Mums go through several physical, mental and emotional challenges after giving birth. And with our newborns’ needs now being our priority, it’s hard to squeeze in a postpartum workout plan to our to-do list. But then, little stretches here and there can work wonders for our mind and body. So, find time to fit in fitness! You’ll be one groovy mummy with these simple postpartum exercises.
Why and When to Start Postpartum Exercise
We all know that staying active has a myriad of health benefits. But the positive effects are slightly levelled up post-pregnancy, especially for new mums. After going through several body changes, you now have to dedicate more of your time and energy to care for your little one. These shifts happening all at once tend to make mums feel extra tired and disconnected.
But with a postpartum workout routine, you’ll be giving some time and energy for yourself. In turn, it gives you that much-needed energy boost and feeling of being in control. Losing the extra weight and toning your abdominal muscles are plus points for your confidence, too! Remember, self-care for mums is not selfish. We need to take care of ourselves, too, if we want the best for our babies.
Before you start creating your postpartum workout plan, however, make sure to consult your doctor or health professional first. Generally, doctors suggest waiting for 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. But it varies, depending on the risk factors like complicated birth and actual birth experience.
What to Include in Your Postpartum Workout Plan
Once you have the green light, these light postpartum exercises are the perfect starters!
1. Deep Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing is one way to stay calm, do a mind and body reset, and drive stress away. Exhaling also activates your abdominal muscles, which, in turn, improves your core strength. Good thing this exercise is perfectly safe to do even after a few days post-pregnancy. Now we all know how to breathe, but here’s how to do it correctly:
- Sit or lie flat on the floor. Keep your body relaxed. Then put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your tummy.
- Next, take a deep breath. Expand your stomach while your chest remains still. Breathe in for about 2 seconds, then exhale slowly. Imagine bringing out the tension from the toes to your head.
- Continue breathing in and out for up to 3 minutes.
If you’ve been doing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, then it should not be a problem to continue doing them after giving birth. It’s a versatile move for your postpartum workout plan that applies to either vaginal or caesarean delivery. It can reduce urinary and anal incontinence, plus encourage blood flow to help heal C-section suture, too. Here’s how to do the Kegel exercise:
- Activate your pelvic floor muscles by drawing your pubic and tailbone up towards the centre, as if you’re trying to hold urine flow.
- Hold this position for about 10 seconds, then release. Repeat nine more times to make one set.
- You can do up to three sets in a day, depending on your fitness level. But remember not to do this exercise when urinating.
3. Neck Stretches
A mum’s day usually includes holding, nursing, feeding and picking up the baby. These, however, can take a toll on your body, especially the neck. And neck pain can even travel down your arm and wrist, which affects your range of movement. So, make sure to stretch and give your neck some TLC.
- Start by gently bowing your head forward. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Next, lift your head, bend it towards your right shoulder and hold for 10 seconds. Return your head to the centre, then repeat the same stretch-and-hold move on the left side.
- Finally, bend your head towards your back with your eyes gazing upward.
4. Cat-Cow Poses
Beginner yoga moves like the cat-cow stretch are excellent for your postpartum workout plan. These strengthen your muscles and improve mobility without putting so much pressure on the body. They can also help you relax and relieve back pain.
- Start by getting on the floor on all fours. Your back should be flat with your gaze down.
- Next, take a deep breath. Then round your back upward as you exhale. Hold your cat pose for 2 seconds.
- After which, inhale, arch your back, then lift your tailbone and head as you relax your belly towards the ground.
- Repeat these alternating poses for 1 minute.
5. Wall Planks and Push-Ups
Here are excellent postpartum exercises if you are trying to recover from a C-section. And all you need is a sturdy wall! Both can help strengthen your upper body as well as tone your arm muscles.
- Face the wall and stand about 60cm away from it. Next, rest your forearms against the wall. It’s the same position for a standard plank, only this time you’re standing up.
- Then, lift your left forearm as you rotate your body to the right. Hold the side-plank position for a few seconds before returning to the centre and repeating the same move to the other side. Repeat as needed.
- For wall push-ups, keep the same starting position for wall planks, but your hands should be against the wall this time.
- Bend your arms as you would when doing regular push-ups, then push back to straighten your arms. Repeat as needed.
6. Quadruped Arm-Leg Lifts
You can add this body exercise to your postpartum workout plan, especially if you’re constantly feeling pain around your lower back. It will also work your glute, hamstring and core muscles.
- Start by getting on the floor on all fours. Your back should be straight and your abdominal muscles tight.
- Next, lift one arm to the front and the opposite leg away from you. Hold this position for about 5 seconds.
- Lower your arm and leg to return to starting position, then switch sides. You can repeat this alternating move up to 10 times on each side.
Alternatively, you can perform leg lifts, too. While lying down, raise both legs towards the ceiling, forming a 90-degree angle. Then lower them down. For an easier variation, you can lift one leg at a time or bend your knee.
Baby, check. Baby in stroller, check. Sunny weather, check. Now, you’re all set for a postnatal exercise! Walking or mild jogging should be excellent after the first few months of giving birth. Try to look for a walking route with slopes or uphills to give your glute muscles a good workout.
When you’re ready, stop walking every 15 minutes, then perform a few squats while holding your little one. You’ll burn a few more calories with the resistance. Plus, it gives you the chance to bond with your newborn.
Postpartum Workout Reminders
If you used to do vigorous exercise before being pregnant, keep in mind that your postpartum body will take some time to regain its strength. Don’t worry if you feel weaker than usual. Be patient! Stick to a postpartum workout plan with low-impact exercises, then progress gradually. What’s important is to find the time to get back on track and keep at it. Do it out of love for yourself and your baby!