I’m sure you already know – or have guessed – that it may take some workout to get your body back after pregnancy.
After giving birth, our abdominal and pelvic floor muscles can be significantly weaker. They have been stretched and pulled during the process of carrying and delivering your baby. In addition to still looking pregnant, there are some pretty nasty problems that can (but usually don’t) occur from the weakening of your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles:
Incontinence (the inability to hold your urine while coughing, laughing, or straining), is a common problem that arises from weakened muscles.
Uterine Prolapse is also a possibility (although only on rare occasions). This is a condition where the pelvic floor muscles are no longer able to support the uterus; therefore it dips down and can come out of the opening of the vagina. Good news, though. We can prevent these things from happening with targeted exercises.
Look below for some easy postnatal exercises that will help you get started. But don’t start exercising too early after giving birth. You’ll find information on when and how to start exercising here.
Postnatal Exercises – Get Going!
Pelvic floor exercises
These are a type of very important postnatal exercises. They strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and keep them healthy.
First exercise: Try lying on your back and pulling in tightly with your vaginal and anal areas. This is similar to stopping the flow of your urine. Hold this tightening for 5 to 7 seconds, and then rest. Repeat this about 10 times a day.
Second exercise: Another variation of this exercise is to pull the muscles in quickly, and let them go quickly, like a flicker. Do this as quickly as you can for 10 seconds, and repeat 10 times a day.
Once you have learned how to carry out these exercises, you really don’t have to lie down to do them. Sitting, standing, or walking works fine too. Since you then can do these exercises anywhere, make it a rule to do them for example while feeding your baby, cooking, or whatever makes you remember to do them.
After you have your baby, you will want to begin exercising slowly. Don’t push yourself too hard, and stick with light exercises. After all, your baby needs you to get healthier, not blow a head gasket!
First exercise: Try lying on the floor and sucking in your tummy. To get the right method, imagine that someone is on the inside of your belly pulling it in from the belly button. Hold this for about 10 seconds, and repeat 10 times a day.
Second exercise: Another great exercise is a “lighter” version of crunches. Lie on your back with your knees up, and keep your hands out flat beside you. Suck in your belly and lift only your head off the floor. Hold this for around 5 seconds, and repeat 10 times. This is a great way to strengthen your abdominal muscles.
And until your belly has started to get back in shape, remember to stretch your back and look proud. You’re a great mom! (And your belly will look smaller, too.:-) )
Protecting your back
After you have a baby, it’s important to take care of your back. Back pain is very common among new moms. Here are a few great ways to keep yourself healthy and allow your back to get stronger.
- For the first couple of months after you give birth, don’t lift anything heavier than your baby. This will ensure that you don’t strain yourself.
- If you must lift something, such as picking the baby up from a low place, bend at your knees. Use the strength of your legs to lift, not your back.
- While sitting, try to maintain proper posture. This is keeping your spine straight, and not slouching. This is a great way to strengthen your back.
- When pushing your stroller uphill, don’t use straight arms. This is a very natural thing to do, but it puts unnecessary strain on your back. Bend your arms and keep the stroller close to your body.
- Combining yoga with strengthening your abdominal muscles is another great way to prevent or reduce back pain.
Neck and shoulders
Sore neck and shoulders are also greatly helped by yoga and by stretching those muscles as often as possible.
If you breastfeed for an extended period and don’t sit in a perfect position every time (who does…), don’t be surprised if your neck and shoulders start hurting and get stiff. It’s very common but not very nice.