I often get asked “what exercises are recommended for the early postpartum days”, and while every individual is different, these are five exercises that I loved to do after having my daughter, and still continue to do whenever I have a few minutes to myself.
Before we get into it though, I just want to remind you that we're all beautifully unique. We’re not meant to “bounce back” to our previous bodies after giving birth. Think of it as a new chapter of your life - because it is! When reading a book, you wouldn’t flip the pages backwards, so why would you do that with your life and body?
1. Deep abdominal breathing
Also known as a 360 breath, a piston breath, or kegels.
Deep abdominal breathing will encourage your “core 4” deep abdominal muscles (your pelvic floor muscles, multifidus, diaphragm, and transversus abdominus) to work simultaneously. Knowing how to perform a deep abdominal breath is crucial for your pelvic floor health - which is super beneficial for all stages of your life, but especially while pregnant and postpartum.
I always encourage my clients to book an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist (you don’t need to have any concerns/issues, or be pregnant or postpartum for this). They will be able to guide you through this exact breath and have you really feel the movements of the working muscles.
If you’d like some more information on a deep abdominal breath and how your breath plays a pivotal role on your pelvic floor health, feel free to watch this video by Andrea Plitz at Bloom Integrative Health & Movement: https://youtu.be/iCvDXMfVJ3k
2. Child’s Pose
A classic, but a goodie! I just love how relaxing this exercise is. It gently stretches your spine, hips, and thighs, making this a great exercise to do in those early postpartum days.
Tip - grab a yoga bolster or pillow and place it under your chest/belly to feel an even deeper sense of relaxation.
3. Wall Chest Stretch
Everyone can benefit from this stretch! It helps to improve your posture as it stretches your chest and shoulders, and as a result, may also help to relieve upper back pain (something many new mamas suffer from).
To do this stretch, simply place one side of your body against a wall and extend that arm that is closest to the wall out behind your body. Your palm should be touching the wall. The further you rotate your body away from the wall, the more you’ll feel this stretch, so feel free to adjust accordingly. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
4. Modified Dead Bug Exercise
Laying in a supine position and making sure to keep a neutral spine (small gap under your low back and floor), raise your legs into a table top position. Place your hands on your thighs, with very minimal force or pressure. Hold this position for the duration of five deep abdominal breaths, or for however long feels good for you in the moment. It is key that you listen to your body.
I love this exercise for the fact that it works so many muscles at once. The obvious ones being your glutes and hamstrings, however you’ll also be working your deep abdominal muscles, as well!
For some variety, try performing the bridge with your toes lifted, and then with your heels lifted.
It’s crucial that you listen to your body in these early postpartum days, and fuel it with the right things!
As a bonus, here’s one of my favourite breakfasts... It’s quick, easy, delicious and nutritious -
Peaches & Cream Oatmeal
1 serving of cooked oatmeal
⅓ cup plain yogurt
1 peach, cut into thin slices
Salted Caramel MORE Granola
Optional: a sprinkle of coconut sugar
Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl, and enjoy!
Gillian is an Ottawa-based, certified barre instructor, who specializes in pre/postnatal fitness. She is passionate about educating her clients, and emphasizes the importance of mindful movement. Check out Barre with Gill here!