Postnatal Core Strengthening Exercise Guide
Considerations for new mumsAfter pregnancy, you’re probably eager to get your post-baby body back in shape. But before you jump into your usual ab workouts, there are some special considerations that new moms need to take into account:
1. Start small and slow
2. Monitor your bleeding or better yet wait for it to stop
3. Monitor your pelvic floor
4. Check if you have diastasis recti and repair it first
5. Allow your c-section incision heal (if you had one)
6. Be aware of wobbly joints as the prenatal hormone Relaxin is still within your system for 8 weeks postpartum
7. Always stay hydrated
8. Rest, rest and rest
9. Stop if you feel any pain and, if in doubt, call your GP or nurse
Light restorative exercises for the postpartum period
For the first 6 weeks postpartum, you should focus on very light movement such as walking, stretching and restorative exercises for your pelvic floor. Try these simple exercises to start healing your core:
To activate your pelvic floor, imagine you are stopping the flow of urine. Hold muscles for 10 seconds (don’t hold your breath) and slowly release. Do 20 holds 5 times a day. This exercise can be done while sitting or standing—even when nursing!
Lie on your back with your knees bent as in a glute bridge stance. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling in and imagining your belly button moving toward your spine. Hold your bridged position for a couple of seconds before easing back down.
Abdominal bracing is simply tensing (contracting) the abs as if you are about to be hit in the stomach. Bracing involves contracting your deep abdominal muscles by gently drawing in the abdominal muscles below your belly button toward your spine and up slightly, holding this position for as long as you comfortably can. Make sure not to pull in the muscles too hard. If you notice yourself holding your breath, check your technique and ensure you keep breathing comfortably during the exercises.
Abdominal bracing in a chair
One exercise that places minimal strain on your back is to sit on a chair, bracing your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles as you slowly lift one leg (not too high). Try not to move your hips or body and be sure that you feel no downward strain on your pelvic floor. Breathe normally as you do this, and then lower. Build up to 10 repetitions on each side, making sure you do each one well.