Exercise

Pelvic floor and deep abdominal exercises will help you return to your pre-pregnancy shape and assist with healing around any stitches you may have.

They can be safely started one to two days following the birth of your baby, provided there is no increase in your pain.

On this page:

  • Getting into and out of bed
  • Your pelvic floor
  • Deep abdominal muscle exercise
  • Tips for back care and correct lifting technique
  • Returning to exercise

Getting into and out of bed

Support your stomach muscles as you get into and out of bed. The most comfortable and best way to do this is to log roll.

How to log roll:

  • Bend your knees and roll onto your side.
  • Keep your shoulders and hips in line.
  • Slide your feet over the side of the bed and push yourself up using both of your hands in front of your body.

Your pelvic floor

Every woman who has ever had a baby is encouraged to do pelvic floor exercises. If you have any leaking it will not go away if you ignore it.  In fact, if you start doing your pelvic floor exercises regularly, the leaking is likely to stop.  You can start in the first few days after baby is born and make them part of your daily routine.

 Watch this video on how to find and exercise your pelvic floor muscles.

Deep abdominal muscle exercise 

Your deep abdominal muscles help you with good posture and back support. During your pregnancy, as the baby grows, your abdominal muscles stretch and don’t work quite as well as they did.

After the birth, it’s important to exercise these muscles regularly to avoid back pain and build regain their strength.

Exercise 1

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet supported on the ground. Or kneel on your hands and knees.
  2. Breathe in, then breathe out and as you do so gently tighten your lower abdominal muscles by pulling your lower belly in towards your spine. Try to keep your upper abdominal muscles relaxed throughout the exercise.
  3. Hold for three to five seconds as you breathe normally.
  4. Repeat six to ten times, four times a day.

Exercise 2

During your pregnancy the curve in your lower back deepens. This can lead to lower back pain. After your baby is born, the exercise below can correct this curvature.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Tighten your lower tummy muscles, flatten your lower back onto the bed or the floor by gently rolling the tail bone and tilting the pelvis towards your ribs.
  3. Repeat this exercise as many times as you find comfortable.

Tips for back care and correct lifting technique

  • Bend your knees, keep your back straight and always tighten your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles as above. Hold the object firmly and close to your body.
  • Do not lift anything heavier than the weight of your baby for the first six weeks.
  • Avoid sudden and repetitive bending and twisting movements. 
  • Make sure your working surfaces are at waist height (e.g. for bathing & changing the baby).
  • Create a supportive position for feeding. Place your bottom back in the chair, make sure your feet are supported and use support to help lift the baby up to your breast.

Returning to exercise

  • Start with gentle walking when your pain and discomfort allows.
  • Gradually increase your walking distance and speed (at your own pace).
  • A 30 minute walk each day has been shown to improve your general health and well-being.
  • Avoid other strenuous and high impact exercises during the first 12 weeks (such as  weights, sit-ups or running).
  • Before attempting high impact exercises you should check your pelvic floor strength by coughing with a full bladder or jumping with a full bladder. You are ready for more high impact exercise if there is no urine leakage. 
  • If your baby is more than three months old and you have urine leakage, you may need some further advice from a women’s health physiotherapist or a GP. 

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Disclaimer

The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.

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