By now you are (somewhat) used to your new little one and are adjusting to your new life. Maybe your bleeding has (finally!!!) stopped and you just want to move already!! Or maybe you just want to sleep some more (what mama doesn’t?!).
I’m definitely always in both camps depending on the time of day.
Hopefully you have been doing the exercises listed in Exercise After Baby Part 1: 0-4 weeks. If not, now is a good time to start! (Reminder: Please consult with your doctor or midwife before beginning any exercise.)
For the next couple of weeks, the exercises are just a tad bit harder. The focus continues to be on improving your mobility and re-activating muscles which got lengthened during your pregnancy (see Exercise After Baby Part 1: 0-4 weeks for more info). Getting a good foundation of strength and mobility is paramount before you amp up your exercises!
Keep in mind this is a “long game.” You may get fit fast while seemingly being injury and pain-free shortly after post-partum, but months or years down the road your body will likely eventually let you know going fast wasn’t a good thing (think: more pain, injuries, pelvic floor dysfunction due to overuse, compensation, and weakness). And remember...leaking is NOT normal!
REMINDER: If you have had a c-section, you may be a couple of weeks behind in your ability to move. You may find the first series more beneficial even though you are 4-8 weeks post-partum. Listen to your body and do what feels good for you. If your scar has healing and you are about 6 weeks post-partum, it is a good time to begin scar tissue massage. Here is a good video from Dr. Sarah Duvall on C-section scar tissue massage.
Even as you progress with your exercising, continue to work on 360 breathing and side lying breathing as seen in Exercise After Baby Part 1: 0-4 weeks. Keep doing side lying breathing until you feel your core connect to your pelvic floor. What does that mean? As you inhale, imagine inflating a long balloon from your nose all the way down PAST your pelvic floor. By doing this, you are lengthening your pelvic floor muscles and allowing for a good breathing internal pressure system. When you exhale slowly, you can do a kegel which contracts your pelvic floor. It is so unbelievably important to connect your breathing with your pelvic floor! DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP! This allows you to maintain a good pressure system, reduce pelvic floor dysfunction, improve posture, improve neck and back pain, and so much more! This is definitely a good topic for another blog post, but for now I want to keep it short and simple.
Also continue to do the side lying rotations as seen in Exercise After Baby Part 1: 0-4 weeks because they help to promote mid-back mobility and feel soooo good to do after holding and feeding a baby all hours of the day and night!
**** Keep in mind these exercises are a sample and suggestion; not an “end all, be all.” For more and personalized exercises catered to you and your capabilities, schedule an appointment with Dr. Davida!*** Don’t hesitate to modify any exercise based on your needs and abilities.
NOTE: Always work on good breathing during any and all exercises. Exhale on the parts of the exercise which require more effort.
1. 360 breathing
2. Side lying breathing
3. Side lying rotation (both sides)
Goal=3x5 each side
4. Half kneeling hip flexor stretch with a twist
Come tall in a half kneeling position. Squeeze buttock muscles (glutes).. Don’t overarch back. Turn slightly from mid-back while keeping glute squeezed. Do both sides.
Goal= 2x30 seconds
While lying on your back with knees bent, draw in abdominal muscles BELOW your belly button. Squeeze your buttocks and then raise your buttocks off the floor/bed as creating a "Bridge" with your body. Make sure to primarily feel this in your buttock muscles (glutes). Drive knees over toes. Hold a couple of seconds and then lower yourself.
6.Corner pec stretch
Find a wall corner in your home and stand within the corner facing the wall. Tighten core to not overarch back. Lean in, keeping shoulders down, stretching the front of your chest. Start at 90 then move up.
Goal= 2x30 seconds
7. Arm slides on wall
Sit up tall with back against a wall. Press head back, keeping a long neck. Raise and lower arms on wall without overarching back or letting ribs flare. Doing this in standing is a progression, as it’s harder to do without overarching back or letting ribs flare. (Exhale as you go up)
(Start: 1x8. This is harder than it looks, y'all!)
8. Door/counter squat
Keep your core tight. Hip hinge (don't bend from back). Sit back into your buttocks (glutes). Keep chin tucked. Knees inline with toes. You are using the door or counter to help support your weight in order to make the squat easier.