Congratulations on your new baby! While your doctor may want you to wait to begin traditional exercise; he/she will probably support you doing the following exercises soon after birth. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. These exercises are gentle and safe and will help you restore the strength and posture that was lost during pregnancy. While they may seem too basic to an experienced exerciser, they are essential at any level. Master these and you will be ready when your doctor clears you for exercise.
These aren’t just for pregnancy! In fact, all women should do Kegels every day! Kegels are exercises that help tighten and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles attach from your pubic bone to your tail bone and act kind of like a sling holding everything up in place. There are many ways to Kegel. To locate your pelvic floor muscles, try to stop your flow of urine while going to the bathroom. Once you have realized the muscle needed, you can Kegel. Contract your pelvic floor muscles. Hold for three seconds and then relax for three seconds. Repeat 10 times. Other versions include changing the tempo and the level of contraction. While kegels won’t change the look of your body, they are essential for improving your strength at the innermost level. You can expect to see results of less urinary leakage, greater sexual satisfaction and reduced problems as you get older.
2. SCAPULAR RETRACTIONS
hese are a great exercise to improve posture. If you find yourself hunching over your new baby all the time, this exercise will help bring your shoulders back! Sit or stand with spine tall and head pulled back in alignment (ears should be in line with shoulders). Squeeze shoulder blades back and together as if cracking a walnut between them. Hold for a second and release. You can also do this exercise with your baby in a front back carrier. Repeat 15 times, 3 times per day.
3. PELVIC TILTS
hese are essential for regaining abdominal strength and re-aligning your pelvis. Picture your pelvic like a bucket. When your baby grew, the bucket tilted forward (called an anterior pelvic tilt). Exaggerate it now and you will see that your tummy pooches out in this position and it puts pressure on your low back. So, you will not only like the way your stomach looks as a result of pelvic tilts; you will also like the way you feel. Lay down on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Draw in your abdominals without squeezing your glutes. Use your muscles to tilt the pelvis back so the small of your back is pressed against the floor. Envision the bucket tilting back if that helps you. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
4. LEG SLIDES
This is another gentle exercise that will help build the foundation for a strong core. Ideally, do them immediately following the pelvic tilts. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring your pelvis into neutral position (your bucket is not tilted). Engage your abs to keep your pelvis perfectly still throughout the exercise. This is the hard part! Slide one leg out so that it fully extends without changing your pelvis. Bring the leg back to start and repeat on the other side. Do this approximately 15 times on each side.
This may be the most challenging exercise on the list, but it’s worth the effort! It’s actually an exercise for the whole body! Start face down on your knees, propped on your elbows. Engage your abs so they are drawn in without holding your breath. You’re your body up so that you are in a straight line from your head, through your shoulders and hips. The idea is to hover in a position that is flat as a board. You can start at your knees and eventually progress to full plank on your toes. Hold this position for 5 seconds and gradually build up to one minute.
The most important thing for a new mom’s exercise program is to start with the smallest step and to build up gradually. If you cannot do the recommended repetitions, then start with less. I promise that baby steps can get you to anywhere you want to go. Beyond these exercises, the best thing for you to do is to walk. Start with a pace and duration that feels comfortable; not challenging. Again, build up gradually and you will increase your strength and endurance. Exercise should be energizing! Respect your sleep deprived reality and nurture your body. You will need the “strength for motherhood”.
This blog post originally appeared at here and was written by Lisa Druxman.