Postpartum exercises not only help you to heal and recover faster, but they also help you to get your body back in shape. A postpartum exercise program should focus on rebuilding abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and improving overall health. Postpartum exercises for muscles should also focus on rebuilding core strength, improving posture, and reducing stress. Generally, for major muscle groups, it is best to wait until the baby is at least six weeks old before starting an exercise program.
For postpartum women’s health, it is recommended to start with light exercises and gradually increase the intensity as your body allows. It’s because the post-baby body doesn’t heal as quickly as it used to. In a postpartum period, the main goal should be to heal the body and allow it to recover properly before trying to lose weight or get back in shape. There are a lot of different exercises you can do after giving birth, but some are better than others when it comes to postpartum recovery. Here we’ve outlined some best exercises with step-by-step guidelines, so scroll down to know more.
Best Postpartum Exercises For Women
As we said above, postpartum workouts are specifically designed for women who have recently given birth. These workouts help to improve the health and fitness of new mothers, and they can also aid in the healing process after childbirth. But to perform exercises safely and effectively, it’s important to understand which ones are best for postpartum women. The below list of postpartum exercises will help to get you started on the road to recovery, and they are:
1. Pelvic Floor Exercises
A pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the bladder and bowel. The muscles stretch from the pubic bone to the tailbone and form a sling-like structure. These muscles are responsible for controlling the release of urine and feces. They also help to support the uterus and vagina. During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles are under a lot of strain. This can cause them to weaken and become stretched out. As a result, many women experience urinary incontinence after childbirth. They also help to improve bowel and urinary control. To deal with postpartum depression, some doctors also recommend pelvic or kegel exercises.
How to do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
Step 1 : In starting position, sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the yoga mat.
Step 2 : Tighten your pelvic floor muscles by lifting them towards your belly button. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
Step 3 : Then, make your upper body tall and proud like a mountain. As you exhale, release the pelvic muscles and return to the starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
Step 4 : You can also do this exercise lying down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. This position may be more comfortable for some women.
Step 5 : At last, to make things more challenging, you can try doing the pelvic exercises while standing up but listen to your body and do what feels best for you.
2. Heel Slides Exercise
The heel slides exercise is a gentle yet effective way to help improve postural control and reduce lower back pain. For skin muscle tone and comfort, this is one of the best exercises for postpartum women. This postpartum exercise is very easy to do and can be done while lying on your back with your knees slightly bent and feet flat on the floor.
How to do Heel Slides Exercise?
Step 1: Place your heel as close to your backside as possible.
Step 2 : Only bend your knee to a comfortable place.
Step 3 : It won’t be painful, but there may be some light pressure or a tingly feeling in your knee.
Step 4 : Do 1 to 3 sets of 10 reps for each exercise. Between sets, rest for up to 1 minute. These exercises should be completed at least two times a day.
Step 5 : Make sure your left leg is in straight line with your feet hip-width apart before bringing your right heel towards your left buttock.
3. Toe Taps Exercise
Toe taps are a great way to improve balance and coordination and strengthen your lower body muscles. This eases the tension on your lower back and helps to improve your posture. Also, this exercise is very beneficial to improving the skin tone muscles and making your legs look slim and toned.
How to do Toe Taps Exercise?
Step 1 : First, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.
Step 2 : Step forward with your right foot and tap your toe on the floor.
Step 3 : Return to the starting position and repeat with your left foot. Make sure your right arm moves forward and the feet shoulder-width apart when your left foot moves.
Step 4 : Continue alternating feet and tapping your toes on the floor. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
4. Diaphragmatic or Deep Breathing Exercise
This breathing exercise is very beneficial in strengthening the respiratory muscles as well as the diaphragm. This, in turn, helps in better oxygenation of the blood and also aids in getting rid of toxins from the body. When doing this exercise, ensure your arms straight and place your hands on your stomach just below the navel. Just like spine-neutral exercise, this exercise would also require you to be in a comfortable position.
How to do Diaphragmatic or Deep Breathing Exercise?
Step 1 : Sit or lie down on a flat, comfortable surface.
Step 2 : Relax your shoulders and move them down from your ears.
Step 3 : Put your hand on your chest and your hand on your stomach.
Step 4 : Without pressure or pressure, breathe through your nose until you can no longer breathe.
Step 5 : Feel the air passing through your nostrils into your abdomen, expanding the sides of your abdomen and waist. Your chest remains relatively still.
Step 6 : Pinch your lips as if chewing with a straw. Breathe through your lips for 4 seconds and feel your stomach contract slowly.
Step 7 : Repeat these steps several times for the best results.
5. Cat-Cow Exercise
Cat-cow is a common exercise performed in yoga. As the name suggests, the cat-cow pose looks like a cat arching its back and then a cow bending down to graze. This position is repeated several times and is said to help improve flexibility and relieve back pain. Moreover, this postpartum exercise is also good for strengthening the abdominal muscles.
How to do Cat-Cow Exercise?
Step 1 : Start on all fours with your hands and knees shoulder-width apart
Step 2 : Begin in a tabletop pose on your hands and knees, with a neutral spine.
Step 3 : As you inhale and move into cow pose, lift your hamstrings, push your chest forward, and let your belly sink.
Step 4 : Raise your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and look straight ahead.
Step 5 : Get into the cat pose as you exhale, rounding your spine out, tucking your tailbone in, and pulling your pubic bone forward.
Step 6 : Drop your head to the floor, but don’t touch your chin to your chest. Most importantly, just relax.
6. Double Legs Lower
Though the double legs lower exercise is great for postpartum women, it is also a great way to tone your entire body. This exercise works by toning the muscles in your legs and butt while also helping to improve your balance. Moreover, if you have a certified personal trainer, she/he can help you focus on the right muscles and make sure you are doing the exercise correctly to avoid injury.
How to do Double Legs Lower?
Step 1 : Start by lying on your back with both legs in the air and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. If this is too difficult, you can start with one leg in the air and gradually work your way up.
Step 2 : Place your hands on the floor beside you for stability.
Step 3 : Slowly lower both legs towards the floor until they are about 6 inches away from it.
Step 4 : Hold this position for a count of 2 and then slowly raise your legs back up to the starting position.
Step 5 : Repeat this exercise 10-15 times for 2-3 sets.
7. Postpartum Planks
Postpartum Planks are a great way to strengthen your core muscles after giving birth. The plank exercise is an excellent way to work the entire body, including the abdominals, back, shoulders, and legs. It also helps improve posture and can be done anywhere. Moreover, if you have a vaginal delivery, this exercise will help faster healing as it tones the deep muscles.
How to do Postpartum Planks?
Step 1 : Lie on your stomach on the floor with your elbows under your shoulders. Your feet will be flexed with your toes on the ground.
Step 2 : Engage your glutes and core and lift on your toes, so only your forearms and toes touch the floor. Your body should be a few inches off the ground in a straight line.
Step 3 : Contracting your deep abdominal muscles, draw your navel towards your spine and tighten your glutes and upper body. Breathe normally and hold for 30 seconds.
Step 4 : Repeat 1 to 2 times. As you get stronger, the cooldown increases.
Step 5 : You can also try this exercise by holding a weight in your hands while in the plank position.
Benefits of postnatal exercise for women
Though postpartum exercise has many benefits, some are more significant than others. Here are some benefits of postnatal exercise that you should keep in mind:
It speeds up postpartum recovery
Exercise helps the body to heal and repair faster after childbirth. It can also help to reduce discomfort and promote a quicker return to pre-pregnancy shape. Although recovery times vary, most women feel better within a few weeks of starting an exercise program.
It increases energy levels
Fatigue is common in the early weeks and months after childbirth. Exercise can help to increase energy levels by improving circulation and promoting better sleep. Moreover, regular exercise can help you develop more stamina over time.
Improved mental health
Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Postpartum exercise can help alleviate common mental health issues new moms face, such as depression and anxiety. Moreover, for extended periods, it can help you cope with stress better.
It helps to improve your mood
After giving birth, it’s common to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and even depressed. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It can also help to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Another great benefit of postnatal exercise is that it can help to improve your sleep quality. This is essential for new mothers, as good sleep is vital for recovery and energy levels. However, postnatal exercise can also help you fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
What exercises should you avoid postpartum?
A few exercises should be avoided in postpartum, depending on each woman’s situation. Generally, any exercise that puts stress on the pelvic or core muscles should be avoided until those muscles have had a chance to heal and strengthen. This includes exercises like sit-ups, crunches, and rollbacks.
Pilates and yoga can be a great postpartum exercise, but it’s important to check with a doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine. Every woman’s body is different, so it’s important to listen to your own body and pay attention to any pain or discomfort you might experience. Always stop an exercise if it feels uncomfortable or causes pain.
How soon after giving birth can you exercise?
The consensus seems to be that it is best to wait until your postpartum check-up, typically 9-12 weeks after delivery, before resuming vigorous exercise. Of course, every mother and baby is different, so be sure to listen to your body and see how you feel before making any decisions.
Some other considerations to keep in mind are whether or not you had a c-section delivery, as this can add additional recovery time, and whether or not you experienced any tearing during childbirth, as this may require some extra TLC when it comes to exercises that put a strain on the pelvic floor.
Additionally, while moderate-intensity cardio can help speed up the healing process by getting the blood flowing and helping to reduce inflammation, it’s important to avoid anything that is overly strenuous or puts too much impact on the body. This means things like running or high-impact aerobics are off limits for now, and even gentle jogging should be cautiously approached.
Can I do squats after giving birth?
It depends on how long ago you gave birth. If it’s been less than six weeks, you should avoid doing squats or other strenuous exercises that stress the pelvic muscles. These muscles need time to heal and regain their strength.
If it’s been more than six weeks since you gave birth, you can start doing squats, but be sure to focus on keeping your back straight and your core engaged. Squats are a great way to strengthen your pelvic muscles, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Just be sure to start slowly and gradually increasing your workouts’ intensity and duration over time.
How long till the belly goes down after birth?
It depends on how much weight the mother gained during her pregnancy and the baby’s feeding and elimination habits. Generally speaking, it takes about six weeks for a woman’s body to return to its pre-pregnancy state, although some women may take up to nine months or more. This varies from person to person and also depends on how active the new mother is in exercise.
Some women can lose their baby weight relatively quickly by breastfeeding and eating healthy, while others find that they carry a bit of extra weight around their midsection for quite some time after giving birth. Generally, it’s best not to rush things and focus on taking them one day at a time.
Therefore, postpartum exercises are beneficial not only for postpartum women but also for their babies. Postpartum women must find the time to exercise and be physically active daily to stay healthy and fit. For your abdominal muscles to heal and regain strength, you should avoid high-impact activities during the first few weeks postpartum. Walking, swimming, and pelvic floor exercises are low-impact activities that are safe for most postpartum women. Also, an aerobic exercise class can help you burn calories and tone your muscles. As with any new exercise routine, consult your doctor before starting any exercise. We hope you enjoy incorporating these exercises into your postpartum fitness plan and that they help you regain strength and confidence in your body. Thanks for reading!