Get inspiration for parents!
Subscribe for parenting tips, family money advice, baby names and more
Getting active after giving birth can be tough and may just feel like the last thing on earth you want to do, but there are so many different benefits to it.
From boosting your mood and energy levels to improving your strength, gentle exercise is great for a new mum. While you certainly won't be heading to the gym for a HIIT workout just yet, it's so important to make sure that whatever exercises you're doing are both safe and comfortable for your body. We've rounded up our top seven exercise suggestions to help your body recover from pregnancy - take a look!
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Having just given birth, you'll know very well that your pelvic floor muscles have been stretched out and are now much looser than they were previously, so a great, simple exercise to start off with is getting them right back into shape.
How do you do this? Pelvic floor exercises involve contracting, squeezing, and lifting - go ahead and try, you'll be able to feel it clearly. One way to do this is to imagine you're bursting for the loo but waiting behind a long queue - the clench you'll be doing is working your pelvic floor!
Squeeze and hold one contraction for ten seconds, relax the muscle, and then do another ten quick contractions every single day, three or four times a day. It may be a couple of months before you start seeing differences, but it certainly works a treat! (Tip: for maximum effectiveness, it's important to ensure that you're not holding your breath while doing these exercises - so make sure you're breathing in when squeezing and exhaling as you lift.)
This may sound super simple, but getting out for a walk each day is a great way to exercise without putting too much stress on the body - plus you can take your baby with you whilst you're doing it. The fresh air will be a great mood booster and will improve your energy. It's important to not push yourself too far (so stay away from any steep hills!) but you can increase the length of your walks as you go on - so start off with just a twenty-minute walk a day, and see what a good job it does for you. Just remember to stay hydrated!
Postnatal swimming has so many benefits for women. Not only is it a great low impact workout, but it also aids in weight-loss and works your lungs and heart whilst taking the pressure from your joints. It's also fantastic for toning your muscles and won't be too strenuous on your body. Not to mention, it can be really relaxing.
Start off with a few simple laps, increasing as the weeks go by - or why not try out an aqua aerobics class? Our only tip is to wait until your body is completely healed from the birth, and that your post-natal lochia has stopped before you get in the pool.
Pushchair Lunges And Airplane Lifts
Two simple exercises that you can easily and quickly perform at home without any equipment are pushchair lunges (great for your lower body) and airplane lifts (great for toning your tummy and will make your baby giggle). How do they work?
To perform a pushchair lunge, you'll need to place your baby in their pushchair and stand about 90cm away - facing them. Place your hands on your hips, and lunge forward with one leg, blowing them a kiss when you're in position before returning to standing. Do this again with your other leg, and repeat ten times for each one.
For an airplane lift, lie down flat on your tummy with your baby opposite you so that you can look straight at them. Then, simultaneously lift both your legs and your arms. Hold for ten seconds, and repeat this ten times. (If you can manage it, you'll love being able to pull silly faces at your little one at the same time!).
Not only is yoga a great way to wind down and relax from the stress of being a mum to a newborn, but it also helps with preventing back pain, strengthening and toning your muscles, and helping your spine and pelvis straighten up again without being too hard on your body. It's also said to help prevent postpartum depression.
There are plenty of great yoga classes online that you can perform in the comfort of your own home, so have a look around and find one that feels good for you. Most are completely free and some you can even practice with your baby!
While you can't exactly be doing sit-ups or high-power ab workouts straight away, there are still plenty of gentle movements and exercises to do that will help re-strengthen and tone your abs.
One great way to do this is heel raises. Begin by lying flat on your back, then bend your knees so that your feet are placed flat on the floor. Now, lift one heel and stretch it out straight, pushing your lower back down onto the floor as you do so. Hold the leg in place for several seconds and then lower it back to the surface. Do this multiple times for each leg - you'll really be able to feel the effect in your lower abs.
Possibly one of the best postnatal exercises that you can take on, pilates is great because it strengthens a lot of the muscles that usually become weak during pregnancy. It also helps to strengthen the pelvic floor, improves posture, your core strength, and your stability. Not to mention, it can really help you to relax and take your mind away from everyday stresses of new motherhood.
It's also very low-risk in terms of injuring yourself and isn't too strenuous compared to some other forms of exercise - the perfect way to start gently getting active again. Again there are plenty of pilates workouts online geared towards new mums.
Give everything a try, be gentle with yourself and find what works for your own body.
Rachel grew up in Switzerland and currently lives in north-west London. She is an avid reader, writer, and a real foodie and loves discovering new hotspots and trendy places to go in the city. She also enjoys planning days out for her family, she especially loves taking her little cousins swimming and to the park. When she has some free time she loves going to concerts, baking, or visiting her family at their home in Essex. She can sometimes be found travelling a bit further than Essex and loves meticulously planning and researching a trip before heading off to explore new places in Europe and further afield.