5 Exercises for the Newly Postpartum

The Mother Hood: It’s the newest workshop I was lucky enough to present at SCW Personal Trainer Apex. It was such a great way to bring together multiple hats I wear: Conference presenting & FIT4MOM Senior Director of Instructor Development. I was totally geeking out.

Whether you are a fit pro who works with pre and postnatal clients or a recently postpartum mama yourself, here is a quick overview of movements appropriate for the “4th trimester”.

First off, a giant congratulations is due! These women have made it through pregnancy and childbirth. Now, it’s time to guide them to give themselves a lot of grace, rest, and proper time to heal. Keep in mind, it does not matter how in shape they were prior to pregnancy or how much they worked out during pregnancy, everyone needs time to heal. You should advise that she return to exercise with caution and at a much lower intensity, duration, and frequency compared to pre-pregnancy.

When her body (& doctor) says it’s okay for her to start easing back into movement, start slow & toss aside expectations. She has permission to nurture and listen to her body; some days she will feel like getting #AllTheThings done and some days, she will sleep every time your baby closes his or her eyes. It’s ok. It all balances out.

Did you know The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG, recommends exercise for new moms because it can:

  • boost energy levels,
  • promote better sleep,
  • relieve stress and,
  • prevent postpartum depression.

When she starts feeling the urge to incorporate more movement into her daily life, here are the 5 exercises recommend for newly postpartum mamas.

For the strength training movements, start with 8 repetitions for 2 sets 3 times per week. Each week, slowly increase the number of repetitions.

1. Bridge
This is a great strengthening exercise when done correctly. Avoid arching your back as your press your hips (pelvic and pubic bones) upward. Focus more on lifting your tailbone to the sky, not your rib cage which should stay zipped together. Once at the top, think about squeezing your pelvic floor inward and upwards. Roll down to full release.

2. Heel Slides
The heel slides exercise will help you develop control of the lower part of your torso. Remember to relax your spine into the ground & move slowly. Focus on stopping your pelvic bones from rocking. Your rib cage should stay connected in the center of your body.

3. Bird Dog
Bird dog is an excellent exercise requiring the body to stabilize the core while moving the upper and lower extremities. Remember to only lift the arm and leg as high as you can without letting the lower back drop-down or sway. If you have a known severe DRA, focus on core contractions in quadruped without any additional movements & see a pelvic floor therapist.

4. Squat
A squat is an important movement that we use for multiple tasks throughout the day. When you start back into movement, squat with a small range of motion. Put your focus on your weight being in your heels & finding a strong posture as you return to standing with your joints aligning & core zipped together.

5. Walking
Start slowly, mama. Walk for 10-minutes at a time, when you feel comfortable. Slowly increase your duration and intensity little by little.