While it seems overwhelming so soon after birth to be thinking of exercise, learning these core exercises for new moms will be crucial to your recovery. Postpartum core and pelvic floor exercises will help build a strong foundation for recovery, long-term fitness, and the ability to play with your kids! These postpartum core exercises are gentle enough to begin in the days following birth but they can be used anytime.
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). Or you may be overwhelmed about starting and unsure what the safest route of action is.
The first few weeks post-partum are filled with wonder, adrenaline and time spent staring at the baby. But eventually, getting back to exercise crosses your mind and you begin wondering about core 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.
Don't want to learn? JUMP to the exercises.
Benefits Of Core Exercises For New Moms
If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't be! These postpartum core exercises are not a fitness routine. In fact they:
- can be done on your living room floor
- take no more than five minutes and can be broken up or done all together
- are low impact
- will help you resume a fitness routine when you're ready
The point of these exercises for new moms isn't to make you work up a sweat or challenge your muscles in the typical sense. The idea behind it is to help rehab your core muscles, reconnect your breath and prepare you for further activity.
Likewise, as a new mom, a lot of postural shifts happen. Don't forget to look into some stretches to help alleviate tension (like these stretches to ease back and neck pain from breastfeeding!)
What To Consider Before Starting ANY Kind Of Fitness Program
When it comes to exercises for new moms, there's a lot to consider.
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 but often required a multi-level approach. Which is why getting a postpartum check up with a Pelvic Floor Physio is crucial.
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.
What Are Postpartum Core & Pelvic Floor Exercises?
These exercises for new moms are not intense. Likewise, they're not meant to get your body "back". However, they will get you started towards understanding your new postpartum body and help you 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 focus on two primary areas and how they work together.
Click here for the Five-Minute Postpartum Workout that uses the exercises below. You can do this postpartum workout anytime after birth. Low-impact exercises complete with video.
Exercises For New Moms: Breathing
Most new moms breathe through their upper body. Thus, they flare the ribcage and move the chest and shoulders (this is the worst habit of mine!).
This hinders posture (which is already a challenge while carrying around a newborn). It also challenges your core musculature as it's not being utilized properly.
Exercises For New Moms: Core Muscles
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 at this time. You'll need to learn how to use deeper muscles to help recover and move forward from birth.
Targetting postpartum core muscles means looking into the deeper abdominals as well as the glute muscles to help reduce back pain, reset alignment and yes, aid your pelvic floor.
However, the biggest thing to focus on when it comes to postpartum core and pelvic floor exercises is how your breathing and muscles work TOGETHER.
Postpartum Core And Pelvic Floor Exercise #1 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.
How To Do It
- Lay on the floor with your head 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.
One way to progress is by then incorporating a minor pelvic floor lift with the breathing.
Then, you can more 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.
Terryll Bladock, a pelvic floor specialist has some really amazon videos on her YouTube Channel about breathing and how to progress it throughout the postpartum period.
Learning to reactivate some of your deeper muscles will be crucial once you want to jump back into workouts. Once you master it on the ground, this is a core exercise for new moms you can then use standing and in workouts.
How 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 5-10s
- release fully
Perform 8-10 repetitions.
This pelvic 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.
Here's a great video demo of the basic tilt.
PostPartum Core Exercise #3 - Glute Bridge
Ensuring your glutes are firing is an important step postpartum as your glutes will aid in correcting your posture and relieve some of the tension from your low back. Check out my favorite at-home glute exercises for moms.
The most important part of all glute exercises is to ensure activation and engagement. Just going through the motions will cause you to lift with your low back and not your bum muscles so move slow.
How To Do It
- Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat and arms at your sides.
- Perform a pelvic tilt, push through the heels and lift your bum from the floor
- Squeezing your bum placing the hips into extension. Pause briefly.
- Release the squeeze and lower the hips to the floor.
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.
Exercises For New Moms #4 - Clamshells
Again, learning to activate and strengthen your glutes will inevitably 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. The muscles surrounding them are normally feeling pretty weak (and sometimes tight).
How To Do It
- 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.
- Release the squeeze and return the knees to meet each other
You should feel the muscles under your hand contract. Perform 10-15/side.
Tip: once that feels a bit more natural, don't forget to try and work in your belly breathing with the exercises. When it comes to core exercises for new moms, the two are not separate.
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 throughout pregnancy (learn more about the best hip exercises when pregnant). They're also crucial postpartum once you master these basic core exercises for new moms. Learn more about what the glutes can do for you.
Making use of mini loops simply allows you to add some low-impact tension to your at-home glute exercises. This resistance helps keep them strong and you functional. I use mini-bands with every single one of my clients because they are just so freaking effective.
You can grab the bands at prosourcefit.com and use code mamabearfit to save some money!
Core And Pelvic Floor Exercise #5 - Heel Slides
This postpartum core exercise is a great way to combine the exercises you're already learned and put them into action with some movement. It's still low impact, can be done anywhere and it really helps fine-tune the core and pelvic floor connection.
How To Do It
- Lay on your back and place a washcloth (or use socks) under one heel
- One knee should be bent and the other out straight, keep the hip bones squared to the ceiling
- Create tension in the deep abdominals by lifting your pelvic floor "up and in" and using a minor pelvic tilt when you exhale
- At the same time, use that tension to pull the straight leg back towards your hips
- Keep the hips stable as you release the leg back out
Perform 5-8 repetitions per leg
Don't forget to pin these crucial core exercises for new moms!
Further Resources For Core Exercises For New Moms
I've had the pleasure of getting to know a few pelvic floor specialists in my time as a strength coach. If you want some mega help, check out the following people. They're constantly posting tips on how to train the core and pelvic postpartum.
All of these ladies are specialists in their field. They have wicked YouTube channels for visual demos and post frequently to Instagram with helpful tips on managing and strengthening the pelvic floor during pregnancy and postpartum.
Final Tips On The Postpartum Core Exercises
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).
Most of these exercises can be performed as early as a few 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.
Also, keep in mind that you don't need to be rigid or have a master plan. Do the exercises (starting with breathing!!) when you think of it or when you can. Don't make it a "thing).
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 of change in the last year and it needs a little bit of extra lovin'.
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Strengthen & Tone Your Glutes… At Home!
If you’re looking to get strong, reduce back pain, and carry kids easier check out my Stronger Glutes For Busy Moms E-book. This 25-page E-book provides you with everything you need to strengthen your glutes at home.
You’ll learn about the fundamentals of glute training, and have access to my progressive glute training program.
This e-book will take you through:
- No equipment glute workouts to do over a four week period
- Glute workouts that require resistance bands to take your toning to the next level
- My favorite glute finishers (booty burners) to use after you’ve completed the programs
- 5-weeks worth of full-body, progressive workout programs to continue using after you’ve finished the initial programs
The difference between these glute workouts and sporadic, glute exercises you stumble upon is that these training programs are progressive. Meaning, they build on one another!
- Which exercises best target glutes (with added video demos!)
- How often, and when you should train glutes
- How to take your glute training further
Take the guesswork out of your glute training and follow a plan. Learn the best practices to implement when it comes to strengthening glutes and reap the benefits of less back pain and the ability to carry kids easier.
Because being strong isn’t optional when you’re a mom. Grab the Stronger Glutes E-book today.
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