Vicky Warr shares some postnatal exercises and techniques to help you recover, build strength, tone your body, improve your energy levels and boost your body confidence after having a baby.
During pregnancy, birth and beyond you and your body are undergoing some significant fundamental changes; physical, hormonal and lifestyle. Growing a baby for nine months is no mean feat for your body, not to mention the change in lifestyle when you become a mother.
If a new mum isn’t allowed to fully recover from the demanding requirements of pregnancy and birth, the effects can last for years afterwards. Finding the strength to deal with your needs as well as the needs of your baby can be a real struggle.
Vicky’s postnatal exercises will help you bring your tummy muscles back together, tone up your body and bring you vitality after pregnancy.
For more energy, to help you feel calmer and help with ‘baby brain.’
This is a ‘must do’ exercise after pregnancy that you can do at any time of the day!
This form of deep, relaxed breathing restores your natural energy, promotes feelings of calm, clears mental fog, (aka the mummy brain) strengthens your core and pelvic floor as well as improving your digestive system.
Sit tall cross legged or with your legs in front of you. Make sure you’re positioned firmly on your sitting bones. Place each of your hands on either side of your upper ribs, just below your bra strap.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose expanding your lungs and rib cage sideways. As you do this imagine you are putting an umbrella up and it is opening out.
- Then open your mouth and through pursed lips release a full, calm breath out. Imagine you are steaming up a window. Feel your rib cage and deep inner most abdominal muscles relax and sink.
Repeat for 10 full breaths in and out.
When you breath you want to use your breathing muscle, the diaphragm, to bring air deep into the body; expanding the tummy, ribs and lower back. This will help strengthen your core and pelvic floor. Your shoulders should remain relaxed and down and your chest only moves slightly and should be the last part of you to move. To become aware of these natural breathing patterns watch your baby or child breath and observe the way their belly rises and falls.
To fully relax and have Vicky’s expert instruction, follow her umbrella breathing video here (it’s just 8 minutes long)
To Improve Postnatal Back Ache
To improve lower back ache, you need to improve the stability of your pelvis and strengthen your core muscles so they can support your back.
The Exercise: The Pelvic Tilt
Lie on your back with your feet shoulder width apart, your knees bent with each arm straight and flat on the floor by each side of your body. You should have a very small gap between the floor and your lower back; imagine sliding a letter between your lower back and the floor as that is the width of the gap to aim for.
Place the fingers of your right hand on to the top of your right hip bone and tuck your thumb around the side of your hip. Do the same with the left fingers and thumb.
- Breathe out, draw your belly button inwards towards your spine and roll your tailbone (base of the spine) away and slightly up, keeping your bottom and hips flat on the floor. Your lower back softly flattens into the floor.
- Then breathe in and roll your pelvis upwards, so there is a small gap between the lower back and the floor.
Repeat 8 to 10 times.
To Ease Tight Hips and Stretch Your Waist
After carrying the extra weight of your growing baby around in front of you for nine months, your hips can become tight leading to back ache. The sides of your waist may feel tight too and there is a risk of hurting your back as you turn to lift or carry your baby. This postnatal exercise helps improves your hip flexibility after pregnancy to reduce back ache and tone your waist.
The Dynamic Stretch: Hip Flexor and Waist Stretch
Kneel on the floor and step forward about 2 feet with your right foot so that your right knee is at a right angle and your right foot is flat on the floor. You’ll be resting on your left knee and then tuck the toes of your left under. Bring your upper body upright with your chest facing forwards and your shoulders in line with your hips. Place your hands on your hips.
- Taking your hands off your hips, raise both your arms slowly upwards in the air over your head and as you do this push your right knee forward, keeping your right foot flat until you feel a moderate stretch in the hip flexor area (front side of leg at the hip level).
- Squeeze your bottom cheeks and keep your pelvis facing forwards.
- Then lower your right arm and keeping your left arm up, reaching the fingertips towards the ceiling and bend over to the right, avoid leaning forwards or back, keeping your body upright. You’ll feel a stretch down the left side of your body. Hold this stretch for 5 seconds.
Repeat 5 times.
- Then change to kneel on your right knee with your left foot forwards. Do the same move reaching your right arm up and over and bend over to the left, feeling the stretch down the right side of your body. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds and repeat this 5 times.
Bonus 10 Minute Video!
Follow this short video to help you tone and tighten your tummy muscles, strengthen your core and sculpt your bottom after having a baby.
Look forward to more postnatal exercise tips from Vicky Warr next month!
FittaMamma Tip for New Mums
Finding time to get to a class or the gym can be a struggle. Postnatal workouts at home are the answer! Pop your baby next to you on a playmat or sit them in a bouncy chair to watch you. Babies can be entertained watching you exercise …. and you’ll be a great role model.
About the Author
Vicky Warr has over 18 year’s experience in the fitness industry, a pregnancy and postnatal fitness specialist and health coach and founder of Bump and Beyond.
Check out her Online Health and Fitness Studio and get started with LIVE postnatal video classes at home, 30 Day Challenges with Videos and healthy, quick recipes the whole family will love at: www.bumpandbeyond.club
These tips and exercises are suitable after a c-section or more straight forward birth. Just be sure to have had your postnatal medical check before doing these exercises.