NEW MOTHERS EXERCISE GUIDE

Don’t despair if your tummy is soft and floppy after baby is born as all the abdominal muscles have been stretched to their limits. All of a sudden, you have gone from muscles tightly stretched over an expanded uterus, to a softer abdomen with weaker control. Be assured your tummy will strengthen and shrink back with commitment to the right exercises.

There are so many different exercise programs available to encourage new mothers getting back into shape, but just like building a house, you need to start with getting your foundations strong first. Developing pelvic floor and core abdominal muscle support starts this strengthening process from the inside out. Practicising pelvic floor and core exercises (Shrink the jellybelly program) reduces abdominal muscle separation, controls bladder and bowel, supports pelvic organs against prolapse and regains sexual sensation.

Challenging abdominal exercises and army style training are likely to overwhelm the smaller pelvic floor muscles in the base of the pelvis. Take a bit longer after a caesarean or complicated vaginal birth and start the easy exercises when you’re comfortable. Report any pain experienced during exercise. Repeat the exercises slowly with an emphasis on using and controlling the pelvic floor and core muscles, as these are gentle, not forceful exercises.

Exercise Tips

  • Focus on regular walks - they may take a bit longer as people like to stop and admire your baby.
  • Meet another mum and walk together on a regular basis.
  • Choose a stroller height that keeps you standing tall (to engage the pelvic floor and core muscles).
  • Rebalance your posture so the trunk and pelvic muscles strengthen in correct alignment. Check with a physiotherapist or fitness professional for postural advice.
  • Seek treatment of post baby loss of bladder and bowel control, prolapse or pain before starting any exercise program.
  • After 16 to 24 weeks post partum, try gentle exercise classes, swimming, water aerobics, tai chi, belly dancing and post natal yoga with experienced teachers.
  • After 24 weeks post partum, try modified yoga, basic pilates, fitball classes or group low impact aerobics with experienced teachers.

Exercising with baby

Try these fun activities as you and baby exercise together

  • Kneel over baby, bend elbows and do upper body push-ups.
  • Lie on your back - place baby on your lower legs, hold onto their body and lift baby slowly up and down with your legs.
  • Lie on your back (knees bent) and push baby away from your body and slowly lower towards your chest.
  • Stand, hold baby close to your chest and squat as though you are sitting down into a chair. Straighten and repeat.

Running

High impact activities in the first 4 to 5 months stress the pelvic floor and leg and pelvic joints. Start with low impact activities such as walking, swimming and deep water running while building pelvic floor and core strength. Stretch to maintain muscle length but avoid stretching to increase flexibility until 16 to 20 weeks post baby, when the effects of pregnancy hormones are minimal.