Four Crucial Exercises For New Moms
As a new mom, you may be eager to jump back into activity once you’ve finally met your little one- especially if you were a fit mom prior to pregnancy (read about my fit mom pregnancy struggles here). Even if you weren’t a fit mom, maybe you just want to feel good moving again. Regardless, there is some rehabilitation work (aka crucial exercises for new moms) you should do before attempting any kind of workout routine (though here’s how to get back into routine and a program once you’re ready!)
After months of waiting for your little bundle of joy she is finally here! The first few weeks post-partum are filled with wonder, adrenaline and time spent staring at the new addition. But eventually, getting back to exercise crosses your mind and you begin wondering about exercises for new moms.
Almost immediately you’re overwhelmed, confused and have no idea how to “get back at it”. Do you join a gym? A bootcamp? Will you feel out of place? Can you keep up? So many thoughts spiral through your mind that the thought of activity becomes petrifying.
And to tell you the truth, there are a lot of ways to go about it! Much of it depends on your prior fitness level, how your pregnancy went and what kind of birth you had. So many things play a part in getting back into movement and there are two major things to remember when you do:
The first is that your body just went through an extreme change. Pregnancy and birth changes your body drastically. Don’t forget that it needs time and a lot of love. Your body just did something insanely awesome- don’t undervalue it.
The Second is not to compare yourself to others regarding fitness and abilities. The same can be said about any time of your life but especially post pregnancy. What someone else may be able to do may not be what you’re capable of (which is ok!),
The Third is to get checked out by a pelvic floor physiotherapist. A PFP will be able to assess you internally as well as externally and give you some guidance on what the strengthen. Remember: peeing your pants is completely fixable. Read more about why you should get a postpartum check up here.
So where the hell do you start?
Well, before starting any fitness program or activity there are a few rehabilitation exercises for new moms you can & should you can do to start prepping your body.
Note: my recommendation is to also visit a local pelvic floor physiotherapist. With this visit you can check on any degree of abdominal separation or pelvis floor weakness/prolapse. These are things that will need to be corrected first before a fitness routine takes place.
These exercises are not intense nor will they get your body “back” but they will get you started towards understanding your new post-baby body and help it work towards starting an actual fitness routine.
After going through the experience of birth, your body needs exercises like this in order to train it to be functional again as well as help it recover from pregnancy and labor. Before you ever jump into a full workout program your body needs to retrain both your breathing as well as your core muscles.
Most new moms breath through their upper body flaring the ribcage and moving and moving the chest and shoulders (this is the worst habit of mine!). This hinders posture -which is already a challenge while carrying around a new born- and your core musculature as it’s not being utilized.
Stretched, pulled, under activated. Pregnancy and birth do so much to your core that it’s hard to know where to start. But start you have to. Since your core doesn’t consist of just your abdominals, exercises like crunches and planks will only impede your process. You’ll need to learn how to use deeper muscles to help recover and move forward from birth (you can check out some of my favorite core exercises here for when you’re ready!)
So what exercises should you be doing? Below are four exercises for new moms that can be worked into your days before jumping into a fitness program:
Exercise #1 TVA/Pelvic Floor Activation
Learning to reactivate some of your deeper muscles will be crucial once you want to jump back into workouts.
To do it, lay on the floor on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Think of lifting up the lower half of your bum so you feel as if you’re drawing your belly button into the floor. Think of tucking your pelvis under or bringing your hip bones towards your ribcage. Your upper body shouldn’t move, you are simply tilting your pelvic to stabilize. Hold for 5-10s and perform 8-10 repetitions.
This tilt is a crucial step and as you progress you can easily build on it by lifting the legs, moving the arms and performing exercises like deadbugs/hollow bodies etc.
Exercise #2 Diaphragmatic Breathing
Retraining your body to breathe properly will help take some of the pressure off your upper back and aid your core muscles to recover.
To perform, lay on the floor with your hear supported on a pillow. Place one hand on your belly. When you inhale, you want to feel your belly rise under your hand. Your upper chest muscles should remain relaxed and unmoving (though you might feel the lower ribcage expand slightly). When you exhale, your belly returns to normal. Practice your breathing daily for 10-15 breathes.
Once you feel comfortable with the technique, you can progress from laying down to sitting and then standing as well as exercises like piston breathing. Making sure that it comes more and more naturally over time.
Exercise #3 Glute Bridge
Ensuring your glutes are firing is an important step post- baby as your glutes will aid in correcting your posture and relieve some of the tension from your low back. Check out six of my favorite exercises here.
To perform glute bridges, lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat and arms at your sides. From there perform a pelvic tilt, push through the heels and lift your bum from the floor while squeezing your bum placing the hips into extension. Release the squeeze and low. Really make sure you are using your pelvic floor muscles and glutes as opposed to arching your low back to get higher. You can do 10-15 repetitions.
Exercise #4 Clamshells
Again, learning to activate and strengthen your glutes will inevitable help your posture and any low back pain. In the case of your hips though.. they’ve been through a lot. Regardless of your delivery, your hips have stretched and widened to carry a baby. They muscles surrounding them are normally feeling pretty low and weak.
To perform a clamshell, lay on your side with your legs stacked and knees slightly bent. Make sure your shoulders, hips and heels are in one line. Place your top hand on your top hip. Keeping your heels together, squeeze your glute while opening up at the knees. You should feel the muscles under your hand contract. Release back to starting position. Perform 10-15/side.
One of my favorite recommendations for new moms is to snag a set of mini bands, the glutes are one of the best muscles to train post pregnancy (and during pregnancy… and all the time. Read more about why here).
These mini bands allow you to add a bit of non-intense resistance to your at home glute exercises. This resistance helps keep them strong and you functional. I use mini bands with every single of one of my clients because they are just so freaking effective.
Don’t forget to pin these crucial exercises for new moms!
Make sure as you perform the exercises for new moms that you incorporate your breathing techniques every step of the way. Traditionally, you want to exhale on the hardest part of the exercise and inhale on the easiest (exhale on the lift in a bridge and inhale as you come down).
Note: most of these exercises can be performed as early as fourteen days postpartum so long as you had an uncomplicated delivery. However it is advised you check with your medical practitioner first. If you had a c-section, rest first before jumping into anything. Your incision will take longer to heal so check with your doctor before anything.
Working out after having a baby can be daunting and most new moms are unsure of where to start. While jumping into an intense “fix my body” routine may seem like the best way to go.. it’s not. Take the time to perform these crucial exercises for new moms and then work your way up to a fitness routine slowly. Remember that your body has been through a lot o change in the last year and it needs a little bit of extra lovin’.
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