In this post, we’ll have a look at post-pregnancy exercises that could help get you back in sync after giving birth. As we all know the people’s bodies change a lot following pregnancy! And so, post-pregnancy people tend to have:
- A change in posture
- Pelvic floor weakness
- Core strength weakness especially the deeper stomach muscles
- A change in glute/hip strength and stability
And in this post, we’ll discuss 5 exercises you can do after giving birth to help address the above issues, read on!
Post Pregnancy Exercises for Pelvic Floor
Generally, when women come into me for physiotherapy post-pregnancy, I find that the main areas that need to be strengthened are the stomach, the pelvic floor and the glutes. We want our diaphragm, core muscles and pelvic floor to work together and in the correct way to make sure further down the line no issues arise such as developing incontinence or a diastasis rectus abdominus.
Within the first 12 weeks of giving birth the main things we can focus on are, posture correction and pelvic floor muscle strengthening. This should be done by all women post-pregnancy.
Guide to Pelvic Floor Contractions
Here is a guide on how to perform a pelvic floor contraction. Try this exercise in a seating position with your hands under your backside (to make sure we don’t cheat and squeeze the bottom!)
Make very small movements – no external movement should be noticeable. Imagine an elevator – close the doors by drawing together bony sit bones. Then go up in the elevator to 5th floor (do this by trying to imagine the feeling of stopping wind and urine). Hold at 5th floor (goal is 10 seconds). Then go all the way back to the ground floor fully relaxing. You can do a slow hold for as long as you can (10 seconds is the goal) and quick contractions.
In terms of posture, we try to bring your ribcage and pelvis in line and strengthen you in this position. This is the best position to get as much power and stability from your core.
Until your pelvic floor and core muscles are strong again and back working together you should avoid jumping, running or lifting anything heavy. It is important to get guidance from a women’s health physiotherapist if when you return to exercise you experience any of the following:
- Pelvic girdle pain
- incontinence (leaking pee)
- difficulty going to the toilet
- an urgent need to go to the toilet often
- pelvic or muscle pain
- pressure in your pelvis
- a large gap in your tummy muscles
Talk to your GP before starting exercising if you had a caesarean section, a delay in your stitches healing, problems with your wound, infections in your womb or your wound, postpartum haemorrhage – a rare complication during birth.
Exercises Post Pregnancy for Diastasis
Provided you have no pain, diastasis, leaking or issues post-pregnancy and have gained clearance to start strengthening by your health care professional then here are some exercises that might be good to try to start getting our core starting to work together again and some stability back into your hips.
1. 3D Breathing:
- Being able to get air into the back and side of ribs as well as front. Post-pregnancy it’s common to hold in your tummy and have an upward /shoulder breathing pattern rather than a big deep 3-dimensional breath. You need this ribcage mobility to be able to engage your core and keep it working for day to day tasks.
2. 90/90 Breathing:
- Lie on your back with your feet on the wall, knees and hips at a 90-degree angle
- Have a pillow between your knees and walk your feet 1-2 feet width wider than your knees
- You want to get a 3-dimensional breath – this means being able to get air into your back, sides and stomach. You want a long inhale through your nose filling your low back to the floor and your tummy with air
- On your exhale think about drawing your pubic bone toward your ribs and your hip bones together at the front to engage your lower tummy, then continue to bring your ribs down as you finish exhaling through your mouth
- Your exhale should be long and slow through your mouth and empty your lungs totally of air to get your diaphragm and tummy muscles connecting
- On hands and knees have your hips directly over your knees and your shoulders directly over your hands.
- Get a 3-dimensional breath in through your nose and engage your core the same as you did in the first exercise.
4. Side-Lying Knee Lift:
- Lie on your side with your feet on the wall, hips and knees at 90 degrees. Hand a pillow under your head and your top hand on the ground in front of you.
- Have a ball/pillow between your knees.
- Get your 3D breath, then engage your ribs down and lower your tummy to lift your knees. You are not moving your pelvic or centre only moving at your knees while everything else stays steady.
- You should feel your lower tummy working.
5. Lateral Lunge
- The lateral lunge is good for getting your pelvic floor, glutes and inner thighs working together. Once you have mastered the above exercises try your lateral lunge.
- You still need to think about keeping your spine neutral by engaging your tummy at the font. Think about a string gently pulling your pubic bone to your ribs to get the feeling of stability in your stomach.
- Lunge to the side as if you are sitting back into a chair then push yourself back using your hips/ glutes.
- You should keep your knee over the outside of your foot and feel your bottom and inner thigh working.
About Sarah Brandon – Senior Physiotherapist @ ReSync
This blog was written by Sarah Brandon. Sarah is a Senior Physiotherapist at Resync Physiotherapy clinic in Stepaside. She specialises in post-pregnancy rehabilitation and exercise. If you want to book a session in with Sarah you can call our clinic or book online now. If you want to learn more about Sarah check out this interview between herself and Diarmuid here.
Post Pregnancy Exercise Videos
Why not check out the other videos that Sarah has done, in particular this video with some great post-pregnancy exercises you can try.
Post Pregnancy Physio Services
If you’ve noticed that you’re in pain after your pregnancy or think that your body isn’t recovering the way it should then maybe a specialised post-pregnancy physio can help. Give us a call now +35316855181 or schedule an appointment and we’d be happy to get you back in sync!