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Postpartum Exercise

After delivering a baby, exercise is usually pretty low on most women's priority list. Depending on the experience of birth, a few light exercises to help tighten those stretched muscles might be initiated about 1 week after giving uncomplicated, vaginal birth. Those who have had a caesarean birth will need a different set of exercises.

Long term, getting back to a regular exercise routine with a new baby around can be a challenge, but it is important for women who want to regain their shape, lose some weight and regain lost muscle tone and fitness. For several weeks after delivery, limit yourself to the toning exercises on this page and light walking. Once your physician has determined it is safe for you to increase physical activity, begin exercise slowly and gradually build it up to a level that is comfortable for you.

One Week Postpartum

Review this one week postnatal exercise routine with your obstetrician, and follow the doctor's instructions regarding its appropriateness for you. These exercises should be performed slowly and with focus. The number of repetitions is only a guide, so if you feel weak do less repetitions taking breaks as you need them. You will find you are getting stronger and able to complete more repetitions with time. Listen to your body.

Day 1 of Exercise Routine
One week after delivery, and upon approval from your obstetrician,
begin Kegels, pelvic tilt and ankle circle exercises.

Kegel exercises are extremely important for strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles will be swollen and tender after delivery and you will not feel like doing these exercises. You should do as many as you can tolerate to gradually gain back tone of the muscles. The exercises can also help speed up the healing process of an episiotomy.

  • Tighten your urinary passage and vaginal muscles for three seconds, relax the muscles for three seconds.
  • Begin with 10 three-second squeezes twice to three times a day. Increase repetitions slowly.
  • Work up to doing 50-100 Kegels a day.

Pelvic Tilt
This exercise will strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. Move gently.

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on floor.
  • Exhale and tilt your pelvis upward.
  • Tighten your abdominals and squeeze your buttock muscles together.
  • Gently flatten the small your back against the floor.
  • Hold for a count of five.
  • Inhale as you release.
  • Repeat 4 - 6 times.

  • DO NOT arch your back while performing pelvic tilts.

Ankle Circles
This exercise will feel great, and enhances circulation in your legs and feet.

  • Make 10-15 circles with your ankles in a clockwise and counterclockwise direction.

  • Repeat three to five times.

  • You can do ankle circles while sitting or lying down.

Day 2-to-4
Repeat the Kegels, pelvic tilt and ankle circle exercises. Add the leg sliding exercise.

Leg Sliding

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.

  • Do the pelvic tilt (do not arch).

  • Inhale, then slowly slide one heel up the floor or bed, exhale and slowly lower the leg.

  • Keep your back flat at all times and only work within the range that you can maintain a flat back.

  • Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Day 5-to-7
Repeat the Kegels, pelvic tilt, ankle circle and leg sliding exercises.
Add the bridge and modified crunch.

This exercise will strengthen abdominal and back muscles while providing mobility to your spine.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent, feet firmly on bed hip width apart.

  • Raise buttocks slowly off the ground and lift your hips about 2-3 inches off the floor to form a straight line.

  • Place your hands on your buttocks to feel the muscles tighten.

  • You should feel the weight primarily in the legs and buttocks, not your lower back. If you feel in the lower back, then lower your hips slightly.

  • Repeat 3-5 times.

Modified Crunch
This exercise will strengthen your abdominal muscles.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent. Arms can be behind back, out in front, or crossed on chest.

  • Inhale, then exhale and raise head and shoulders off the floor.

  • Inhale, and slowly lower your body.

  • Relax.

  • Repeat 5 times.

Aerobic Exercise After Delivery
Light aerobic activity, like flat ground walking, can usually be resumed about one week after delivery, or as soon as you can tolerate it. Fatigue will also be a factor. Give yourself time to rest, recover, and get used to your new routines with the baby before you do any more. A gradual increase in activity and return to a more general exercise program can be started after your postpartum checkup, but be sure to discuss your body's 'readiness' with your obstetrician before beginning.

Not all exercises or diets are suitable for everyone. Before you begin this program, you should have permission from your doctor to participate in vigorous exercise and change of diet. If you feel discomfort or pain when you exercise, do not continue. The instructions and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. The creators, producers, participants and distributors of this site disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercise and advice provided here.

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