5 Simple Postnatal Exercises For New Mums
A PT (Personal Trainer) talks us through some yoga-inspired moves perfect for helping your body to recover after birth.
12 January 2022
All Credits: PA
Most new mothers would love their bodies to bring back to their pre-pregnancy shape without any effort. But, just like parenting, it’s not that easy.
Fitness trainer Rosie Stockley, the founder of MAMAWELL, an online postnatal fitness video series, stresses it’s important new mums don’t rush their drive to get back into shape.
“Exercise can be a great way to carve out time for yourself, generate a little more energy and keep you strong – for yourself and your baby,” she says. “But don’t rush it.
“You and your body have been on an intense journey carrying and birthing your baby – respect it and listen to it. When the time is right to get exercising again you’ll know.”
She says mums should start small and simple and find a type of exercise they love and are motivated to do. “Whether it’s yoga or spinning, weights or swimming, make this precious time you’ve carved out enjoyable for you.”
Stockley suggests the following exercises to help new mums get fitter and stronger, whenever you feel ready.
1. Hip raises
What it’s good for: Great for activating and strengthening the core, back and glutes. You may also feel your hamstrings activating.
How to do it: Lie supine with your knees bent, legs hip-width apart. Start the movement by tilting your pelvis, then continue by peeling your spine off the mat, vertebrae by vertebrae until your hips are high. At the top of the movement, squeeze your glutes and think of activating your abdominals (the phrase ‘belly button to spine’ helps). Hold for a count of three before coming down through your spine to the mat. Repeat for a count of 10.
2. Supine twist
What it’s good for: This is a lovely stretch for the back and hips, particularly useful for women in an over-inwardly rotated position with their upper back and shoulders due to feeding, holding the baby and pushing the pram.
How to do it: Lie supine (flat, face up) with your legs stretched, then pull one leg into your chest. On an exhale of breath, take this leg across your body, e.g. if your right leg is pulled in, take it over to the left. Stretch out the same arm as leg to the side and turn your head that way. Hold for a least 30 seconds, or as long as you want. Breathe into the stretch and let your body relax in this position before going to the other side.
3. Supported side plank
What it’s good for: This is a good abdominal activation without the intensity of a full plank. Postnatally, you should avoid planking until the gap in the abdominals has closed and you have strengthened these muscles.
How to do it: Kneel and stretch one leg to the side while supporting yourself with the opposite arm on the floor. Stretch the other arm high and elongate the body. Try and engage the stomach muscles so they’re supporting you and are active. Hold for a slow count of 10 before going to the other side. Do this around eight times on each side.
4. Transverse abdominis breathing
What it’s good for: This breathing and core activation are very beneficial for starting to feel the core engaging again in the early days after birth. It also focuses on starting to knit the abdominal muscles back together, so is useful for all postnatal women, particularly those who may have diastasis recti.
How to do it: Lie flat on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Allow your spine to have a natural curve, so don’t imprint your back into the floor. Inhale fully to the diaphragm. On the end of the exhale engage the core – feel like the belly button is connecting to the spine and the sides of the body are drawing in like you’re wearing a tight belt. Hold for five seconds, then relax the core as you inhale fully again. This can also be performed on all fours. Repeat up to 10 times.
5. Dead bugs
What it’s good for: Great for strengthening the abdominals and lower back.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your feet in the air, knees bent at 90 degrees, press your hands together in the air straight above you. Slowly move one arm back behind you until it nearly touches the floor, then bring it back together. Repeat with the other arm for a total of 10. It’s important you try and imprint your whole back into the mat to ensure there’s no arching in the back or doming of the abdominals. Hug your knees into your chest and relax, then repeat again for a total of three sets.