“it isn’t just emotional changes that create postpartum strain and fatigue. Amazing physical changes have taken place as well. Your body went through an awesome transformation for nine months, culminating in the traumatic experience of birth. it will take some time for your body to return to its earlier state.” –Peggy O’Mara, Having a Baby, Naturally
Here are some exercises to help you recover after you give birth.
This is a simple yoga posture that you can even do on the floor of a hospital room. It strengthens the buttocks, which relieves lower back tension and also stretches the front of the thighs.
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms out to your sides with your palms up.
Keeping your feet planted, lift your hips off the floor. Stretch them to the left a few inches, then put them back down.
Inhale, take your feet off the floor and draw your knees to your chest.
As you exhale, rotate your knees to your right side and then gently let them down to the floor.
Turn your head to look at your left hand and put your right hand on your right knee.
Relax and breathe for 10 to 30 seconds.
When ready, let gravity pull the top leg up and the bottom leg will follow.
Repeat on your left side.
You can begin these within days after birth.
Lie on the bed or the floor with your legs straight and your hands crossed over your abdomen. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, raise your head while you gently press your abdominal muscles toward the center of your belly. Hold for a three seconds then slowly lower your head down.
Repeat 3 to 5 times each day.
After childbirth, your lower back may sometimes ache because of the temporary loss of muscle tone in your abdomen and the weight of carrying the baby. Don’t worry; your body will get stronger. In the meantime, here is a posture that alleviates lower back pain. It is helpful to the pelvis as it lengthens the psoas muscle, which extends from the lumbar spine to the upper thigh, which commonly contracts during pregnancy.
Lie on your back with your legs straight and the soles of your feet touching a wall. Inhale and bend your right knee. Exhale and bring your knee to your chest as you hold your shin with both hands. If you’re recovering from a cesarean, you may want to hold the back of your thigh instead.
Continue to press your left foot firmly against the wall. Don’t tighten your abdomen. Hold for 3 to 5 deep breaths. As you exhale, release your right leg back to the wall and switch legs.
When you’re finished, inhale and bend both your knees. Exhale and roll over to one side to come out of the pose.
Try this exercise after you have completely stopped bleeding from childbirth.
Lie on the floor, resting your calves on a chair. Keep your feet flexed. You can either cross your forearms over your chest or behind your head for better neck support. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, contract your abdominals and lift your head and shoulders 6 to 8 inches off the ground. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
You can also do this posture to relax. Lie down with your calves resting on a chair. Place a support under your neck and head if necessary. Your arms should be at your sides, with your palms up. Allow your legs to relax and to be supported by the chair.
Rest in this position, focusing on your breathing. Allow your mind to think of a pleasant memory or peaceful place you’ve visited. Breathe slowly as you recall how relaxed you felt.
Here are a couple of quick exercises you can do anywhere, anytime you feel nervous or tense.
Stand up straight
Place one hand on your abdomen
Breathe in deeply and slowly as you expand your stomach muscles.
Drop your shoulders.
Repeat 5 times.
Place your feet shoulder length apart and slightly turned in.
Exhale as you lower your head to your knees
Let your arms dangle.
If your hands touch the floor, you can bend your arms and
hold your elbows with your hands.
Just dangle. Don’t stretch; just hang loose.
Hold for 30 seconds, and breathe deeply from your abdomen.