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3 Simple Exercises to Start Immediately After Having A Baby

January 2, 2023

You crossed the finish line of your pregnancy journey! Three trimesters of hormone changes and muscles adapting to the changes of load while the baby gradually grows. But what about the "fourth trimester" or postpartum period? Typically our instructions are to rest and let the body recover for 6 weeks after having a baby. However, what if we included gentle exercises as part of that rest and recovery? Our body gradually adapted to changes over the last 9 months then suddenly the baby was born. The body has entered a new phase: the fourth trimester.

Here are 3 exercises you can begin immediately postpartum to establish your foundation:

1. Side-lying breathing

During pregnancy, the rib cage gradually expands to make room for the baby causing the diaphragm to not work as optimally. Breathing exercises are a great way to improve the mobility and position of the rib cage which will ultimately set you up for success for more advanced exercises in the future. If there's one recommended exercise to do postpartum, this is it!

  • Lie on one side with a pillow under your head and a rolled towel or pillow under your abdominals. 
  • Knees and hips are positioned in a 90/90 position. 
  • Inhale through your nose allowing movement to occur in the front, sides, and back of the rib cage. Let your pelvic floor relax as you inhale. 
  • Exhale through your mouth as you begin to perform a kegel and contracting your abdominals (without moving the spine or pelvis). 
  • During your exhale, ribs should come down and in. 
  • Repeat 3 sets, 5 reps on each side. 

2. Hip flexor stretch

This is a two-in-one exercise. We tend to sit for prolonged periods of time initially postpartum so those hip flexors get tight and our glutes begin to lose strength. This exercise allows the front of your hips to free up and activate the glutes.

  • Lie on back, one knee is hugging towards your chest with the other leg straight out. 
  • Squeeze the glute of the straightened leg and hold. 
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in the front of your hip on the side of the straightened leg. 
  • Repeat 2 times each side, holding for 20 seconds.

3. Isometric hip abduction & adduction

This will be the only exercise you will need equipment but you can use anything in your house or your partner. This exercise activates the lateral hip muscles and the inner thigh muscles which help balance the pelvis after birth. 

  • Start on your back with knees bent. Use a pillow, rolled towel, or a Pilates ball between your knees.
  • Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth as you squeeze the ball between your knees and hold for 10 seconds, repeat this 3 times. 
  • Next, use a belt, rope, or extra heavy resistance around your knees. 
  • Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth as you press your knees into the band and hold for 10 seconds, repeat this 3 times. 
  • If you have pain with squeezing the ball, start with the band exercise first then return to the ball. 

These exercises are only the beginning. Contact us to schedule with a pelvic floor physical therapist for additional exercises and education on what to begin or avoid during the initial months postpartum. 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Dr. Chelsea Speegle

Physical Therapist
Chelse Speegle is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) who specializes in pelvic health. She works primarily at Activcore in Littleton, Colorado which is located inside the Womens Health Care Associates OBGYN clinic.
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