Simple Post Partum Exercises

New moms want to return to their pre-pregnancy weight ASAP.  We see the images and hear the stories of the celebrities that have returned to their prebaby clothing size after only 4 weeks.  In addition to making the average mom feel terrible about her body, these headlines also give false hope and unrealistic expectations for the post partum journey.

Newly post partum moms simply need a place to start with their exercise routine.  Often, there is little guidance from the OBGYN on what to do to heal the abdominals and restore good alignment.  (At least this author didn’t get any direction on exercising post-delivery from her doctor.)  So, many new moms make the logical choice and do crunches to start strengthening their abs.  And though the abs are super important to work on, crunches aren’t the best choice and there are other muscles that need attention as well.  Let’s dive in and discuss appropriate post partum exercises.

As a result of posture changes during pregnancy -or even before pregnancy- the rib cage can flare out.  This changes how your diaphragm is positioned and how it functions.  Breathing correctly may not seem important, but it is an essential component to restoring core function.  The movement of your diaphragm while breathing is directly related to the movement of your pelvic floor muscles.  Together, your diaphragm and pelvic floor move like a piston.  Watch this video for more explanation.

Next, your hip flexors become tight when your pelvis tilts forward in typical pregnancy alignment.  Stretching them is a good idea, but the stretch is typically performed incorrectly and therefore becomes ineffective.  Tucking your tailbone is crucial during the half-kneeling hip flexor stretch. Watch in the video below.

Crunches and planks place undue stress on the already overstretched abdominal muscles.  That’s not to say that you can’t ever do crunches again!  Just for right now as you recover, strengthen your core with stability exercises like the Dead Bug.

Bridges are another fantastic post partum exercise for anyone really, but especially post partum moms.  When your pelvis tilts forward, your glutes become lengthened and weak.  You stretch the front of the pelvis (hip flexors) and strengthen the back with the glute bridge exercise.  Strong glutes not only look good, but also pull the pelvis back into alignment.  Many people miss the critical technique of actively engaging the glutes before and throughout the exercise.  Don’t skip that step!

Walking is great as well for cardio, but don’t forget resistance exercises (dead bug and bridge.)  As a new mom, you don’t have much time or energy so prioritizing these exercises over exercises such as bicep curls will give you the most benefit for healing your post partum body.  You don’t think of breathing as an exercise, but it’s important for the appearance of your belly.  These four exercises don’t take much time or any equipment to do.  So include them as you restore your post partum body.

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