Back to articles Exercising after Baby: Simple exercises for the new mom

Categories: Health & Wellness

If you've just had a baby, exercise is probably not your number one priority right now. Diaper changes, bath time, snuggling, shushing and feeding schedules are taking up all of your time and your energy! However, there are a few things a new mom can do to help recover from her birth and make the first steps back towards fitness in the first weeks and months of your new baby's life.

The Immediate Post-Partum Period (Weesk 1-6)

Note: If you have experienced a traumatic vaginal birth or C-section you should speak with your care provider to determine what types of exercises are recommended for you and when you can resume.

The Pelvic Floor/Kegals

If you have had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery then you will likely find it fairly easy to resume pelvic floor exercises, like kegals, as early as 24 hours after the birth. Strengthening the pelvic floor in the early days can help to speed the healing process of the perineum (to encourage blood flow and oxygen to the area) and will also help to reduce incontinence caused by pregnancy. Try 2-3 sets of 20, holding each muscle contraction from 1?2 seconds, increasing the length of time as your strength improves.

Belly Breathing (Isometric Exercise)

Imagine your lungs are in your belly. Expand your belly as you inhale (you will see your belly get bigger) as you exhale, pull your belly button back toward your spine. Hold your abdominals (not your breath) in this position for 3 seconds, increasing to 10. Try 3 sets of 20.

Pelvic Tilt

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Press the small of your back into the floor while simultaneously lifting your pelvic bone towards your belly button. Try 3 sets of 20.

Side Lying Leg Lifts

These are great exercises to do while feeding the baby! Lie on your side with your top leg resting in front of the bottom. Begin by lifting the bottom leg up and down slowly for 3 sets of 20. Repeat with the top leg. Afterwards switch sides.

Shoulder Rotations

The increased weight and size of your breasts coupled with the long periods of holding baby in common feeding postures causes many new mothers to complain of muscle pain and tension between their shoulder blades. Shoulder rotations will remind you to correct your posture and strengthen this muscle group at the same time, and can easily be done in a seated position. Begin by lifting your shoulders up towards your ears and rotate them backwards, then squeeze your shoulder blades together. Drop back to normal position and repeat. Try 3 sets of 20.

After your Post-Partum Check Up (6 weeks and beyond)

Once your care provider has completed his/her exam and you are cleared for exercise you may begin a more challenging fitness program.

  • Walking is a wonderful weight-bearing and low impact activity that many moms do on a regular basis, but it's still important to remember to go slow at first. As you increase your strength and stamina you will be able to increase your intensity and speed. Listen to your body and don't push too fast too soon.

  • Classes are a great way to build a network of support for you and socialization for your baby. An exercise program that is designed just for moms and new babies should address general concerns related to being a new mom as well as fitness-related issues. Make sure your class is led by a certified fitness instructor who has experience with prenatal and postnatal women.

  • Consume quality calories and drink plenty of water. Eating right and staying hydrated will ensure both you and your baby have the right nutrition & energy needs to meet the demands that motherhood brings.

  • Remember to build in time to rest. Try to go to bed early. Being disciplined in this area will help you feel better overall.

Most importantly, be kind and gentle to yourself and remember to take it one date at a time!

Jennifer Rogers is the owner of FITMOM Durham. A pre and post natal fitness specialist, Lamaze Childbirth Educator and mother of 2 busy boys.