Everyone can agree that giving birth is difficult. As a result, some moms may feel fatigued and overwhelmed. Others might want to indulge in physical activity and return to their routine, especially if they are active before giving birth.
Additionally, postpartum will fluctuate women’s hormones. So exercise or a workout can keep the hormonal levels in balance. That’s why regardless if you are athletic or not, it is best to start early and pick the right postpartum workouts for you.
Being a new parent and juggling your time for yourself and a newborn can be challenging. But there’s growing evidence that postpartum women can significantly benefit from gradually introducing postpartum workouts. For example, it can improve sleep, increase energy levels, decrease stress, lose weight, and regain abdominal strength.
So continue to read this article to see the strength exercises you can do, relaxation exercises, precautions to take, and recommended workouts for abdominal strength.
Every minute, you need to switch the exercise
Jumping Jacks: To do this exercise, you have to stand straight. Jump into the air bringing both arms above your head together. While doing this, spread your toes shoulder-width apart. Repeat this for 1 minute.
Farmers Carry Lightweight Dumbbells: With two lightweight DBs, carry this with both hands. Walk in a clear straight pathway for 1 minute.
Reverse Lunges: Stand upright with your arms on your side, and take a step backward or a backward lunge. The front leg should be at a 90-degree angle, as well as the back leg. Do this to both legs and repeat this for 1 minute.
Knee Raises: Stand upright, hands on the hips or to the side. Raise your one knee alternately. Repeat as well for 1 minute.
Resistance Training Exercises : Studies suggest that resistance training gives postpartum women a lot of beneficial advantages. In this workout, we will do two exercises, squats and knee-assisted push-ups.
Squat: The squat is an excellent exercise for everyone; it increases the strength of many muscles, including the quads and glutes. You may start with air squats (without any weights) as a beginner.
- So legs should be shoulder-width apart. Slightly point out the toes externally.
- You can clasp your hand or point it straight to counterbalance the movement.
- Then, brace your core (hold out your breath). Make sure you are tight on the center; imagine “stomach out.” After that, go down and squat as if you’re sitting down. Remember, make sure to go down your hips, and knees should parallel each other.
- Do this for 8-12 repetitions.
Knee assisted push-ups: Knee-assisted push up is the beginner exercise of a standard push. This could be your starting point if you need the strength to do the standard push-up.
- Kneel on a mat or the floor.
- Both hands shoulder-width apart. Then try to lower down. Your chest should graze the floor.
- After this, “push up” as if you’re pushing the floor away from your body.
- Do this for 8-12 repetitions.
A study found that over 60% of postpartum women have a partial or complete separation of their rectus abdominis. This condition is called Diastasis Recti. This happens because the stomach should expand to accommodate the growing baby. And this could result in stretched and weak muscles. So core exercises are excellent to help postpartum women to gain back their abdominal strength.
Plank: Plank is one of the most direct effects and all-around core exercises. It strengthens your shoulders, back, and core muscles. It should be an essential postpartum exercise.
- Position the body like the starting point of a normal push-up.
- You can come up on your hands or your elbows. Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Make sure that your arms are directly below the shoulders and that you are rounding your shoulders. This cue helps you avoid injury and engage your back muscles more.
Side plank: Another variation of the plank is the side plank. So just like its name implies, you will plank on both sides.
- Lie on your side. Your right arm should help you hold the position if you are on your right side.
- Left arm on the side, and your left leg is stacked to your right leg. Hold this position again for a 30 sec to 1 minute.
- Repeat this mechanic when you switch to the other side.
Bicycle crunches: Another beginner-friendly ab workout is the bicycle crunches.
- Lie down on the floor. Bent your knees, feet should be resting on the floor, and hands clasping the back of the head to lift it slightly.
- Engage your core and stabilize your spine. Alternately, bend the right knee and armpit while straightening the left leg. As you realize, it is as if you are pedalling on the bike.
- Start by doing 5 repetitions on each side.
Russian Twists: This last exercise differs from the others since you need stability, balance, and a good posture.
- Sit on the floor or mat. Make a V-shape with your body.
- Lean back slightly as your legs are lifting off the ground. Make sure to engage your core, and that your back is straight.
- After you’ve done this, twist your torso to the right and then to the left while maintaining a good V-shape form.
- Start by doing 5 repetitions on each side.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist guidelines, cardiovascular exercise is recommended for its overall physical benefits to pregnant and postpartum women. And light intensity exercises like walking, running, and cycling for only 30 minutes a day could significantly improve postpartum women’s physical and mental health.
And these activities could increase cardiorespiratory health and decrease the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
Cool Down Exercises
Cool-down exercise is necessary after the workout since this could relax the muscles and decrease the feeling of soreness the next day. To relax after the proper workout, you can do these activities below:
Kegel Exercise or Pelvic Floor Exercise
- Lie directly on the floor or use a mat. Put both hands on the side or back.
- Bend your knees with your feet on the floor. Contract your pelvic floor muscles.
- While doing this, hold the contraction for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat this for 15 repetitions.
Gentle static stretching exercises help cool down the body. Here’s the list of gentle stretches that you can do.
Pigeon pose stretch: This stretch is helpful to stretch tight hip muscles because it opens the hip.
- To do this, you should bring your knee to the left side. When you do this, slide your left to your back.
- Extend your spine and maintain a neutral posture. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then switch sides.
- You can repeat this exercise for five repetitions on each side.
Cobra pose stretch:
- Lie prone, with your face on the mat or directly on the floor. As the body is extended out, your hands are directly underneath your shoulders.
- Lift your body with your hands with the help of back muscles also.
- Draw in your belly to a neutral spine.
- Look slightly forward and extend your neck.
- Again, hold this position for five seconds and repeat this procedure 10 times.
Diaphragmatic breathing helps reduce heart rate and blood pressure and is for general body relaxation.
- Lie belly up, take a deep breath, fill the stomach with air, and only after the chest. Aim to do this for 3 to 4 seconds.
- Then release the chest first and the belly after, taking another 3 to 4 seconds.
- Repeat this for 10-15 repetitions.
How many workout sets and sessions should I do per week after I give birth?
If you have just given birth, light exercise is recommended. 1 to 2 sessions of 2-3 sets of exercises per week. However, it is important to always check with your doctor, as recovery will vary from person to person and will depend on the birthing method (for example, caesarean births may take longer).
After 1 month or 2, depending on your recovery, you can start increasing the sessions to 3 or 4 and 3-4 sets of exercises per week. Again, medical treatment should be sought so that a medical professional can clear the activities you will be doing.
How much intensity should be included in postpartum workout sessions?
Even with these guidelines, it is essential to listen to your body during postpartum workout sessions and not push yourself too hard. Every woman’s body will be different postpartum, which should be considered when creating a workout plan. At first, starting with low-impact exercises and gradually increasing the intensity as your body feels ready is vital.
And slow, controlled movements with proper technique are the most critical components of a postpartum fitness routine.
What precautions should you have whilst working out postpartum?
- Start slow: Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.
- Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body feels as you exercise. If you experience any pain or intolerable discomfort, stop immediately.
- Focus on breathing: Proper breathing can help reduce the risk of injury or complications. Focus on deep, slow breaths throughout the entire workout.
- Avoid high-impact activities: As your body continues to heal, avoid high-impact activities, such as running or jumping.
- Drink plenty of water: Dehydration can increase the risk of postpartum complications. Be sure to stay hydrated with water throughout your workout.
- Rest: Rest is an essential component of postpartum exercise.
- Wear a supportive bra: Your breasts are likely to increase in size postpartum, which can impact how you exercise. Make sure you choose a comfortable and supportive bra.
- Wear supportive shoes: Wearing supportive shoes can help protect your feet and ankles during your workout. Make sure they fit correctly and provide good support.
What specific exercises do you recommend for strengthening the abdominal muscles after birth?
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. The foot should be on the mat.
- Move your pelvis upward while tightening your core. This movement should flatten the back.
- Release and repeat this movement for 10 repetitions.
- Lie on your back. Bend the knee to 90 degrees.
- Slowly bring both knees to the shoulders and chest.
- Hold and then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this for 10 repetitions.
- Lie on your back with your knees extended.
- Move one leg or slide one leg close to your buttock. Repeat this to the other leg. Do 5 repetitions to each leg.
- Lie on your back. Both legs are extended.
- Your arms should be at your side. Lift both legs slightly off the floor.
- Cross the right leg over the left. Alternate this movement for 12 repetitions.
- Start with the knees bent under the hips. And your arms under your shoulders.
- Lift up straight your legs and the opposite arm.
- Hold this position for 3-5 seconds and then release. Repeat this motion with the opposite arm and leg.
- Each side should perform 6 repetitions.
What are the best ways to stay motivated and stick with a postpartum workout routine?
- Set realistic expectations: Give yourself time and space to adjust to the new you.
- Break up the routine: Doing your postpartum workouts in shorter and more frequent chunks can help you stay motivated and make them more manageable.
- Reward yourself: Celebrate when you reach mini milestones.
- Connect with others: Look for other moms who are also working out and connect with them, whether online or in person.
- Listen to your body: Make sure to rest when you need to, and stop the workout if you feel any discomfort or pain.
- Start small: Focus on simple exercises and gradually increase your workout routine as you develop strength and endurance.