5 for Friday: 5 Exercises You Can (and Should) do Postpartum
That being said, if you're anxious to start moving, it is entirely possible to return to light exercise as soon as two weeks after giving birth. The goal at this point is NOT fat loss- I'm sorry, there's just no need for that this soon, especially if you are expecting to breast feed. The goals should be: feeling good, rehabilitating/restoring function to the core/pelvic floor, speeding up recovery, bettering alignment, and getting out of the house and feeling like you're human again.
The focus will be on breath-work, walking, and bum-centric (glutes) movements. If you've had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery you can begin as soon as two weeks post-delivery, three weeks, if you've have a C-section and are recovering well.
You can do these exercises daily. Aim for one set of 10-15 repetitions for about 4 weeks.
1) Dynamic Core Breathing
Sit in a neutral position with the ribs stacked over the hips, feeling pressure on the sits bones and perineum. The bum should be untucked (not sitting on the tail bone) and the low back arch should be natural (not sitting on pubic bone).Place one hand on the low belly and the other hand on the ribcage. On an inhale, feel the breath fill the belly, the fingers slide away from each other as the ribs open to the sides. On an exhale, the fingers fall back together and ribs return to start. Repeat for three rounds of breath.
On the next inhale feel the area between the tail bone and pubic bone soften- these are the pelvic floor muscles. Notice the sensations of the perineum with each breath- there should be a sense of fullness and sensation against the surface of your seat. Take 3-4 breaths here.
With the next breath, notice what happens to the pelvic floor on the exhale, the sense of fullness and sense of the surface should dissipate. Take 3-4 rounds of breath here.
On the next breath, animate the pelvic floor by slightly contracting- 30% of our maximum contraction. You can imagine that you are picking up blueberries with your vagina and anus (a cue I learned from Jessie Mundell). As you inhale place the blueberries back down. You should be able to complete these dynamic core breaths with each of the following moves.
2) Heel Slides
Start as you did in the glute bridge- on the back, knees bent, heels under the knees. As you inhale extend one knee so that the leg begins to come parallel to the floor. The hips should remain neutral and low back arch should remain natural. On an exhale, pull the leg back to starting position.
3) Glute Bridge
Lie on your back- knees bent, feet flat with the heels under the knees. On an exhale, place pressure through the feet, engage the glutes (squeeze the bum) and inner thighs (adductors) and without pressing into the low back (think of pressing your ribs toward the top of your hips), lift the pelvis. Maintain pressure in the outer edge of the heels and middle of the arches.
4) Body Weight Squats
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hands next to your hips. Bend your knees as you sit the hips back as you would sitting into a chair, keep your head and chest up, pushing your knees forward. Continue as far as you can until you start to tuck your bum- this will be your stopping point until you can lower further without the tuck. As you exhale perform a pelvic floor lift as you rise back to the top.
Begin lying on one side, rest your head on your bicep (triceps on the floor). Bend the knees about 45 degrees bringing your foot about one foots-distance away from your bum. Starting with the inner feet kissing, lift the top knee away from the bottom- the heels should remain together. The hips should remain stacked.