Please talk to your medical provider before exercising after having a baby.
By now you are (somewhat) used to your new little one and are adjusting to your new life. Maybe your bleeding has (finally!) stopped and you just want to move already! Or maybe you just want to sleep some more (what mama doesn’t!?!) After having three babies, I’m definitely always in both camps depending on the time of day.
Hopefully, you have been exercising after having your baby as outlined in Exercise After Having a Baby Part 1: 0-4 weeks Postpartum. If not, now is a good time to start!
For the next couple of weeks, the exercises I am suggesting are just a tad bit more difficult. The focus continues to be on improving your mobility and re-activating muscles that got lengthened during your pregnancy. Getting a good foundation of strength and mobility is paramount before you amp up your exercises! Keep in mind these exercises are suggestions and not an “end all, be all.”
Keep in mind getting back into exercising after having a baby is a “long game.” You may seemingly get fit fast while being injury and pain-free, but months or years down the road, your body will likely eventually let you know going fast wasn’t a good thing (think: more pain, injuries, pelvic floor dysfunction due to overuse, compensation, and weakness). And remember… bladder and/or bowel leaking is NOT something you should have to live with.
Reminder: If you had a c-section, you may be a couple of weeks behind in your ability to move. You may find the first series- which is geared toward the weeks following birth- more beneficial even though you are 4-8 weeks postpartum. Listen to your body and do what feels good for you. If your scar is healing and you are about 6 weeks postpartum, it is a good time to begin scar tissue massage. Check out this great video from Dr. Sarah Duvall on c-section scar tissue massage:
As you progress with your exercising after having a baby routine, continue to work on 360 breathing and side-lying breathing as seen in Exercise After Having a Baby Part 1: 0-4 weeks Postpartum.
Keep doing side lying breathing until you feel your core connect to your pelvic floor. What does that mean? As you inhale, imagine inflating a long balloon from your nose all the way down PAST your pelvic floor. By doing this, you are lengthening your pelvic floor muscles and allowing for a good breathing internal pressure system. When you exhale slowly, you can do a kegel in order to contract your pelvic floor. It is so unbelievably important to connect your breathing with your pelvic floor! DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP! This allows you to maintain a good pressure system, reduce pelvic floor dysfunction, improve posture, improve neck and back pain, and so much more! This is definitely a good topic for another blog post, but for now, I want to keep it short and simple.
Also, continue to do the side-lying rotations because they help to promote mid-back mobility and feel soooo good to do after holding and feeding a baby all hours of the day and night!
Note: Always work on good breathing during any and all exercises. Exhale on the parts of the exercise which require more effort.
Exercises to continue from postpartum weeks 0-4:
- 360 breathing
- Side-lying breathing Goal=2-3×6
- Side-lying rotation (both sides) Goal=3×5 each side
Exercises to add:
- Half kneeling hip flexor stretch with a twist
Squeeze buttock muscles (glutes). Don’t overarch back. Turn slightly from mid-back while keeping glutes squeezed. Do both sides.
Goal= 2 repetitions of x30 seconds each
While lying on your back with knees bent and feet planted on the floor, draw in abdominal muscles BELOW your belly button. Squeeze your buttocks and then raise your buttocks off the floor/bed as creating a “bridge” with your body. Make sure to primarily feel this in your buttock muscles (glutes). Stack your forward knee over your toes. Hold a couple of seconds and then lower yourself.
Goal=3 sets of 12 repetitions
- Corner pec stretch
Find a corner in your home and stand within the corner facing the wall. Tighten core to not overarch back. Lean in, keeping shoulders down, stretching the front of your chest. Start at 90 degrees, then move up.
Goal= 2 repetitions x 30 seconds
- Arm slides on wall
Sit up tall with your back against a wall. Press head back, keeping a long neck. Raise and lower your arms against the wall without overarching back or letting ribs flare. Doing this standing is a progression, as it’s harder to do without overarching back or letting ribs flare. (Exhale as you go up)
(Start: 1×8. This is harder than it looks, y’all!)
- Door/counter squat
Keep your core tight. Hip hinge (don’t bend from the back). Sit back into your buttocks (glutes). Keep chin tucked. Knees in line with toes. You are using the door or counter to help support your weight in order to make the squat easier.
After doing this series of exercise after baby workouts for a couple of weeks, it’s time to assess how you are feeling and how the routine is going for you.
During the performance of the exercises:
- Are you able to keep your core tight?
- Are you able to maintain 360 breathing?
- Are you leaking urine?
- Do you have any pain?
- Do you have good back and hip mobility?
- Do you still feel pretty tight in some areas, but not in others?
- Are the exercises still hard or are they pretty easy?
- Are you ready to move back into more regular exercise?
Remember, listen to your body and step back if you need to! Now is your time to heal!
If you want help making sure you are doing the right movements and performing the correct exercises or if you want a more personalized home exercise program to accelerate your return to exercise and return to all of your mommy duties comfortably and energetically- please contact your pelvic floor physical therapist.
Please note: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Not every program or exercise is right for every person, and you must consult a healthcare provider before doing any exercise listed here. This article is not a substitute for professional medical care or advice. You must consult a medical care provider for advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Vermont Mom and New Moon Physical Therapy and Wellness are in no way liable for any issues that arise from using information contained within this article. Please consult your medical care provider before starting any exercise program.
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