We asked pre-and-post natal fitness expert Jessie Mundell to give us some simple, do-at-home exercises for mums to ease back into a fitness routine. But she had some different advice: take it easy. No, seriously, take it easy.
“The fastest way to get back into your regular fitness routine is actually to do nothing,” says Jessie. “Recovery is hugely important in helping your body truly recover from the amazing thing you just did. There’s no need to rush!”
Rushing back into a fitness routine can have all kinds of repercussions later on, according to Jessie, so there’s no need to feel guilty for giving your body the time it needs to recover.
Two very important areas to re-strengthen after childbirth are your abs, pelvic floor, and glutes. And starting (slowly) to re-strengthen your body is something you can do in your own home.
hip flexor stretch with overhead reach
What it is: Kneel down on one knee in a short lunge stance. Squeeze your back leg glutes tight to feel a stretch in the front of the back leg. With the arm opposite your lunging leg, reach straight up and then over to the opposite side to increase the stretch. Do 10 times each side.
Why to do it: To help stretch the front of the thighs - the hip flexors and quadriceps muscle groups. These can get really tight from lots of sitting while nursing/feeding and holding/rocking the baby, and can cause lower back pain.
What it is: Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder width apart and your feet turned out slightly. Inhale and sit down deeply, your hip shifting back behind you. On your exhale breath, lift your pelvic floor and then squeeze the leg muscles to stand back up strongly.
Why to do it: To help strengthen the lower body and keep good movement through your hips. This also challenges your core to keep stable through both the up and down motion.
What it is: Lie flat on the back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Do your Core + Floor Connection Breath, so that on your exhale breath you lift your pelvic floor and then squeeze your bum (glutes) to raise the hips. Inhale and return back down. Do 10-15 times.
Why to do it: To help strengthen the glute muscles. The glutes and pelvic floor are BFF’s and you need both to be strong to support your pelvis and low back.
What it is: Lie on your side so that your head, hips, and heels are in one line. Knees are bent in front of the body. Do your Core + Floor Connection Breath, so that on your exhale breath you lift your pelvic floor and then squeeze your bum (glutes) to raise the top knee. Your hips don’t move at all! Do 10-15 times per side.
Why to do it: To help strengthen the glutes and stabilizing muscles of the hips. Again, this will support your pelvis and low back.
What it is: In a seated position, put one hand on your belly and one hand on the side of your ribs. Take an inhale breath and feel the air gently expand through your belly and ribcage, and try to soften your pelvic floor. On your exhale breath, think about gently doing a “pelvic floor lift”(drawing your vagina up and into the body). At the same time, think about your belly button gently moving up towards your sternum so you feel tension in your abdominal muscles. Repeat for 10 breaths.
Why to do it: To help re-train the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles to “fire” together to support the pelvic organs, lower back, and belly. Use this breath every time you stand up from a seated position, squat to get the baby, and/or lift anything heavy, (groceries, car seat, etc.).