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Becoming a new mom is a journey filled with joy, love, and challenges. One of these challenges is regaining physical strength and wellness after childbirth.

Postpartum exercises can play a crucial role in this recovery process. They can help new moms rebuild core stability, alleviate discomfort, and enhance overall well-being.

But where should you start? What exercises are safe and effective for postpartum recovery?

In this article, we'll guide you through 10 essential postpartum exercises. These exercises are designed to help you regain strength, improve core stability, and address common postpartum discomforts such as hip pain.

Whether you're a first-time mom or adding another bundle of joy to your family, this guide is for you. Let's embark on this journey towards postpartum recovery together.

Before You Begin: Consultation and Safety

Before starting any postpartum exercise routine, it's crucial to consult with your healthcare provider. They can provide personalized advice based on your health status and recovery progress.

Remember, every woman's body is different. The timeline for starting postpartum exercises can vary depending on factors such as the type of birth (vaginal or C-section) and individual recovery rate.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

  • After a vaginal birth, you may be able to start light exercises as soon as you feel ready. This could be a few days or a week after delivery.
  • After a C-section, you'll likely need to wait until your 6-week postpartum check-up before starting any exercise routine.
  • Always start with low-impact exercises and gradually increase intensity as your body allows.

It's also important to listen to your body during workouts. If you feel pain or discomfort, it's a sign to slow down or modify the exercise.

Lastly, remember that postpartum recovery is not a race. It's okay to take your time and progress at your own pace. Your body has done an amazing job, and it deserves to be treated with care and patience.

Understanding Postpartum Recovery and Exercise Benefits

Postpartum recovery is a unique journey for every woman. It involves physical healing from childbirth, hormonal changes, and adjusting to life with a newborn. Exercise can play a key role in this process.

One of the main benefits of postpartum exercises is that they can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles can be weakened during pregnancy and childbirth. Strengthening them can help prevent issues like incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Postpartum core exercises are also crucial. They can help rebuild abdominal strength, which may have been affected by the stretching of the muscles during pregnancy. A strong core can also support your back, reducing the risk of back pain.

Exercises targeting the hips can alleviate common postpartum discomforts. Many women experience hip pain due to hormonal changes that loosen the joints during pregnancy. Strengthening these areas can improve stability and reduce pain.

Moreover, regular exercise can boost your mood and energy levels. It can help manage stress and may even help with postpartum depression.

Remember, the goal of postpartum exercise is not just to "get your body back". It's about supporting your overall health and well-being during this new phase of life.

Starting with the Basics: Breathing and Alignment

Before diving into specific exercises, it's important to understand the basics of breathing and alignment. These two elements are crucial for effective and safe postpartum workouts.

Proper breathing can support core engagement during workouts. A common technique is diaphragmatic breathing, where you inhale deeply into your diaphragm, not just your chest. This type of breathing can help activate your core muscles, providing stability during exercises.

Alignment is also key. Maintaining good posture and alignment during exercises can prevent injuries and ensure you're effectively targeting the right muscles. Always keep your spine neutral and avoid straining your neck or back.

1. Pelvic Tilts for Core Stability

Pelvic tilts are a gentle way to start rebuilding your core strength postpartum. They target the lower back and abdominal muscles, promoting stability and reducing back pain.

To perform a pelvic tilt, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly tilt your pelvis up, flattening your lower back against the floor, then release. Repeat this movement, focusing on engaging your core muscles.

2. Kegel Exercises for Pelvic Floor Strength

Kegel exercises are crucial for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support the uterus, bladder, and bowel, and can be weakened during childbirth.

To perform a Kegel exercise, imagine you are trying to stop the flow of urine. Tighten the muscles you would use, hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise several times a day.

3. Bridge Lifts to Alleviate Hip Pain

Bridge lifts are a great exercise for strengthening the glutes and hamstrings. They also help to alleviate hip pain, a common complaint among new moms.

To perform a bridge lift, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower back down.

4. Heel Slides for Abdominal Engagement

Heel slides are a gentle way to engage your abdominal muscles. They can help to rebuild core strength after childbirth.

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly slide one heel out until your leg is straight, keeping your back flat on the floor. Slide the heel back in and repeat with the other leg.

5. Wall Push-Ups for Upper Body Strength

Wall push-ups are a great way to build upper body strength. They are a safer option for new moms as they put less strain on the abdominal muscles.

Stand facing a wall with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Bend your elbows and lower your body towards the wall, then push back to the starting position.

6. Side-Lying Leg Lifts for Hip Stability

Side-lying leg lifts are excellent for strengthening the hips. They can help alleviate postpartum hip pain and improve stability.

Lie on your side with your legs stacked and your head resting on your arm. Lift your top leg up while keeping it straight, then lower it back down.

7. Seated Forward Bends for Flexibility

Seated forward bends are a great way to stretch your lower back and hamstrings. They can also help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Slowly bend forward at your hips, reaching for your toes or shins.

8. Modified Planks for Core and Back

Modified planks are a safe way to strengthen your core and back postpartum. They engage multiple muscle groups without putting too much pressure on your abdomen.

Start on your hands and knees. Lower your forearms to the floor, keeping your elbows under your shoulders. Extend one leg at a time behind you, keeping your knees on the floor.

9. Child’s Pose for Relaxation and Stretching

Child's pose is a restorative yoga posture that can help stretch your back, hips, and thighs. It's also a great way to relax and breathe deeply, which can be beneficial for postpartum recovery.

Start on your hands and knees. Sit back on your heels, spreading your knees apart. Stretch your arms forward and rest your forehead on the floor.

10. Walking for Cardiovascular Health

Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be started soon after childbirth. It's a great way to improve cardiovascular health and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.

Start with short, gentle walks and gradually increase your distance and pace as your strength and endurance improve. Remember to wear supportive shoes and stay hydrated.

Incorporating Exercise into Your Postpartum Life

Finding time for exercise can be challenging for new moms. However, it's important to prioritize your health and well-being during this recovery period.

Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. This could be a walk with the baby, a short yoga session during nap time, or a home workout while the baby is playing.

Here are some tips to help you make exercise a part of your postpartum life:

  • Schedule your workouts: Treat them as important appointments.
  • Keep your workouts short: Even 10-15 minutes can make a difference.
  • Involve your baby: Use your baby's weight for resistance during workouts.
  • Make it fun: Listen to your favorite music or watch a show while exercising.

Remember, it's not about perfection. It's about making small, consistent efforts towards your health and recovery.

Listening to Your Body: Signs of Overexertion

As you start your postpartum exercise journey, it's crucial to listen to your body. Overexertion can lead to injury and delay your recovery.

Signs of overexertion include excessive fatigue, increased heart rate, and prolonged muscle soreness. If you experience these symptoms, it's a signal to slow down.

Remember, your body has undergone significant changes during pregnancy and childbirth. It's normal to take time to regain your strength and fitness. Be patient with yourself and adjust your workouts as needed.

Postpartum Exercise FAQs

Many new moms have questions about postpartum exercise. Here are some common queries and their answers.

  1. When can I start exercising after giving birth? It's generally safe to start light exercises, like walking or pelvic floor exercises, a few days after a vaginal birth if you feel up to it. After a C-section, you should wait until your healthcare provider gives you the go-ahead, usually after your six-week postpartum check-up.

  2. What exercises are safe to do postpartum? Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and yoga are usually safe for most new moms. Pelvic floor exercises and gentle core work can also be beneficial. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine.

  3. How can I find time to exercise with a newborn? It can be challenging to find time for exercise with a new baby. Try incorporating exercise into your daily routine, like going for a walk with the baby in a stroller, or doing short workouts during nap times.

  4. I'm feeling pain during exercise, is this normal? Some discomfort is normal as your body adjusts to exercise post-birth. However, sharp or persistent pain is not normal and should be checked by a healthcare provider.

  5. How can I stay motivated to exercise? Set realistic goals, celebrate your progress, and remember that even short workouts can have significant benefits. Joining a postpartum exercise class or group can also provide motivation and support.

Remember, every woman's postpartum journey is unique. Listen to your body and adjust your exercise routine as needed.

Conclusion: Embracing the Journey

Embarking on your postpartum exercise journey is a significant step towards recovery and wellness. Remember, it's not about bouncing back to your pre-pregnancy body, but about embracing the changes and celebrating your body's incredible feat of bringing a new life into the world.

It's essential to be patient with yourself during this time. Progress may be slow, and there may be days when exercise seems impossible. That's okay. What matters is that you're taking care of yourself and moving at a pace that feels right for you.

Finally, remember that you're not alone in this journey. Reach out to other new moms, join postpartum exercise groups, and don't hesitate to seek professional guidance if needed. Your postpartum journey is a marathon, not a sprint, and every step you take towards your health and wellness is a victory worth celebrating.

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