9 Early Postpartum Exercises
Alex Megan of After Baby Fit is a postpartum corrective exercise specialist and has made it her mission to help women rebuild their foundational strength and physical confidence after pregnancy and delivery. She offers a free consultation and quiz about your exercise readiness, along with a self paced 6 week postpartum recovery course. Follow on Instagram @aj.afterbabyfit. Stay tuned for more from Alex this month!
You’ve gotten your “all clear” from your doctor to exercise, but it can be intimidating to jump into an exercise class or get motivated for a workout on your own. You know things in your body have definitely shifted, and you’re not totally sure what it can or should handle. Well, let’s start by saying everyone is different! Just like you were told when you were pregnant, it’s important to be aware of the messages your body is sending you and don’t over do it. Small steps forward will lead to a proper rebuilding of your foundational strength and will allow you to make leaps and bounds later. If you jump into movement of any kind without the proper knowledge you can find yourself with aches and pains that are completely unwelcome at this stage!
These movements are low impact and target the core, specifically lower abdominals, and pelvic floor, plus work the back and glutes supporting total body function.
9 Early Postpartum Exercises
1. Head Lifts
Laying like you were going to do a bridge. As you exhale, simply raise your head, looking towards your legs and lower abdomen. Try to flatten that area rather than bulging, starting with a kegel and pushing the exhale from the bottom up.
Laying with a neutral spine, knees hip distance and feet/toes fully engaged with the mat. Imagine pulling hips up with your pubic bone instead of pushing with your heels and glutes. Keep it low. Exhale on the way up, inhale down.
Start with feet hip distance and pull one leg at a time up to table top. Aim to pull with your lower abdominals NOT your hips (it should be much harder!). Use your exhale to bring the leg up and inhale it down.
4. Bird Dogs
In hands & knees, extend one arm and the opposite leg. Leg should stay at hip height or below – no movement in your low back! Inhale as you reach and exhale as you come back, hovering hands and knee over the mat and starting again.
5. Bear Lift
In hands & knees, tuck the toes under and lift the knees 1-2 inches off the ground. Pull up with your lower abdominals instead of pushing with your feet.
6. Side Lying
Laying down with head on your arm, stacking the hips, creating a straight line from crown of head to tailbone. Don’t let the belly hang on the mat. Clams with both legs bent, Leg Lifts with top leg extended and Rainbow Taps creating a half circle at each corner of the mat. Testing your ability to stay stable as your leg moves in different directions.
Get Alex’s full Postpartum Recovery Series here >
Feet are hip distance apart and the toes are pressed into the ground to force the front of the core to engage. Bending at the hips, sending them back as your knees track towards your second and third toes. Don’t let the chest fall on your legs, keep it proud with a neutral spine. Exhale, engaging the lower abdominals as you stand.
8. Back Lunges
start with a small step and small dip and as you get comfortable, increase the size of the step and the knee bend. The front knee should never go past your front toes. Keep nice tall posture, inhale as you bend, exhale to standing to help with balance and core engagement.
9. Planking Against a Wall
Find a nice angle and test your ability to hold a plank on a wall without bulging. Practice breathing and hugging in your belly. Hips come down, pulling on your pubic bone to maintain a neutral spine. You should have a nice straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Add in: shoulder taps, rotation to a side plank, marches, knee to elbow crunch. Once you are ready, move to a desk or chair and then eventually into a half plank on the ground.
Now, let’s put this into practice! Tabata workouts or timed interval workouts are great postpartum (or anytime for that matter!). It allows you to work at your own pace and move correctly versus trying to keep up with a rep count. 12 minutes is a perfect busy mom amount of time. You will feel the results but in an achievable amount of time. Pick 3-6 movements above and create your own 12 minute workout, repeating the circuit as needed/wanted. Try this one below and see what you think!
12 Minute Tabata Workout
40 seconds of work / 20 seconds of rest
- Squats x2 (progression: hold the bottom of the squat for the rest)
- Back Lunges x2 (progression: add in a knee lift as you stand and/or hold the bottom of the position during rest)
- Shoulder Taps (progression: start with wall plank or on hands & knees and move to ½ plank)
- Low Side Plank (progression: start with bottom knee down, begin adding hip dips)
- Bridges x2 (progression: pulse at the top, without arching back)
- Marches x2 (start with feet on the ground moving up to table top and progress to starting in table top)
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if these aren’t clicking or you would like a more personal assessment. Someone listening to your specific needs and adjusting movements for you could be life altering. It doesn’t mean that you are signing up for months of training, it’s learning cues that make sense to you and the way your body moves to help you get through your day (30lb car seats come to mind…) or workouts pain free!
Get Alex’s full Postpartum Recovery Series here!