Once your doctor gives you the thumbs up, usually at your six-week postpartum checkup, you can ease back into physical activity. Not only will working out help you get back into shape, it will amp up your energy level and help keep postpartum depression at bay.
Note: Exercises where baby is in a carrier should only be done once your child has full head and neck control and has reached the minimum age for your carrier’s front-facing carry, often around five months.
Be a multi-tasking mama with this exercise that strengthens both the quads and biceps.
How to: Stand with your back against a wall and slide down until you feel the front of your thighs working. (Be sure to keep your feet directly under your knees to avoid straining your knees.) Keeping your elbows against the wall, hold the seated position while doing your bicep curls. Inhale with your core breath and exhale while you lift.
Bridging is a good exercise to help strengthen your deep gluteus medius muscles (in your butt and down your outer thighs), as well as your pelvic floor. This move is also an inversion, which aids in circulation and healing.
How to: Lying flat on your back, bend your knees with your feet firmly on the floor. Close your eyes and imagine you are holding a coin in between your butt cheeks. Inhale using your core breath and as you exhale, gently “squeeze the coin” without clenching your butt cheeks, slowly lifting your hips towards the ceiling. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
This is a sneaky one because it looks easy – but it's challenging! This one works your hips and outer thighs.
How to: Standing tall with your left side parallel to a wall, place a stability ball against the wall at thigh level. Place one hand on the wall for balance only. Stand as close to the wall as you can so you are holding the ball in place with your left leg. Now bend your left leg (the one closest to the wall). Keeping your left knee back and legs parallel, inhale. As you exhale, press the ball into the wall with your left leg. Try your best not to lean into the wall. Repeat with the right leg.
TIP: Bring your babe to the store and try him in different carriers to see which one best suits both of you.
This is the best exercise to retrain the way you use your entire core: diaphragm, transverse abdominis, multifidus and pelvic floor. How to: Sitting tall on a stability ball or chair, place your hands around the sides of your ribs. Keep your shoulders down and neck relaxed. Close your eyes and bring an awareness to your pelvic floor. Breathe into your side ribs and expand them like a fan. As you exhale, let the fan close and pull your pelvic floor up into your belly while pulling your belly button in toward your spine. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Here’s another great exercise for your pelvic floor, glutes, pelvis and hips.
How to: Lying on your side, bend both knees with one stacked one on top of the other. Keep your feet together. Starting with your core breath, inhale to expand; then exhale while slowly lifting the top bent leg toward the ceiling. Inhale and return to starting position. Ensure that you are rotating only at the hip and not at the spine. Repeat on the other side.
The push-up is a classic way to get a full-body workout. Start small to ensure you have proper form.
How to: Starting on all fours, place your hands under your shoulders, knees under hips and tuck your chin in. Engage your abdominal muscles for support. Take all of your upper-body weight into your hands while you bring your chest toward the floor. Exhale and push back up. (If you have a diastasis, avoid push-ups until it’s been treated.)
Squatting is probably one of the best exercises to start as soon as you are able, as it's a movement you do many times each day. It’s also great for your pelvic floor.
How to: Standing tall, reach your arms out in front of you for stability. Starting with your tailbone, stick your bum back and lower yourself as if to sit in a chair. Your knees should remain behind your toes so the power comes from your thighs and you don’t strain your knee joints. Exhale, engage your pelvic floor and return to standing.
Holding and carrying your baby can cause rounded shoulders, tight muscles, and neck and upper-back pain. This exercise encourages the shoulders to retract and opens up the chest.
How to: Hold exercise tubing above and in front of your head. Inhale using your core breath. Keeping your arms extended and elbows slightly bent, exhale while stretching the tubing out and downwards until it touches the top of your chest. You can increase or decrease the resistance by adjusting the placement of your hands. Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position.
This one works your triceps, shoulders and core.
How to: Hold a stability ball against a wall so the top of the ball is at eye level. With both hands on the ball, extend your arms so they are parallel to the floor. Step back, engage your abdominals and lean into the ball so your body is in a straight line. As you inhale through your core breath, bend your elbows toward the floor and bring your torso toward the ball. Exhale and return to starting position. Try not to let the ball move! This will require more stability on your part and you’ll get more of a payoff.
TIP: If you don’t already have a carrier, bring your babe to the store and try him in different types to find the one you like best.