One of the many questions I am asked by new mums is how soon can you exercise after birth. The answer is different for everyone. If you exercised throughout your pregnancy and had a normal vaginal delivery, you can safely do light exercise within a few weeks which is walking based or modified stretching.
Every birth story is different and that’s because every baby has it’s own little plan. Unfortunately this means it is a lot harder for some mums to exercise within six weeks after birth and my advice would be not to push it. Take up gentle exercise as and when you are ready as opposed to putting added stress on your body and mind.
A lot of mums wanting to lose their baby bulge immediately try to do sit ups and crunches. This is a complete no no, particularly if you have suffered any form of Diastasis recti (when your belly sticks out because the space between your left and right stomach muscles has widened or separated from childbirth).
Crunches and sit ups are ineffective because they only work the outer abdominal muscles. You actually need to work from the inside out to strengthen the core abdominals. In fact, without strengthening the underlying ones first, can actually make your stomach much worse.
The best exercises you can do to strengthen the deepest abdominal muscle (also called your Transverse Abdominis) are below for you to try.
1. Heel slide
Your feet should be flat on the floor with your knees bent and legs hip-distance apart. Slowly straighten one leg, sliding your heel along the floor. Slide the leg back in, maintaining your abdominal engagement the whole time. Repeat eight times on each side when you first start to do them and work up to 20.
2. Knee lift.
Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent, feet resting on the floor letting the natural curve in your spine remain. Breathe in slowly and concentrate on pulling your navel towards your spine when you breathe in.
Then raise one leg to table top position (knees bent and in line with hip, shin parallel to the floor). Slowly extend the lifted leg out as close to the floor as you can without your back arching. Return leg to table top position, then bring foot back down to the starting position. Switch sides.
Work up to five repetitions on each side without stopping, building up to 20.
3. Resistance fight
Lie on your back and lift both legs up to tabletop so that your knee is in line with your hip. Place your hands on your thighs and push against them. As you try to push your leg away with your hand, resist by pushing your leg into your hand in opposition. While all this is happening you should focus on pulling your navel toward your spine. You may feel your body shake slightly.
Remember for further guidance and a designed programme specific to your own post-birth recovery, give me a call. I really enjoy helping mums get back into exercise.