There are so many exercises that you are told to avoid during pregnancy, yet there are probably just as many that people swear are a must to get that pre-pregnancy body back after you have the baby. So, how are you supposed to know which exercises will give you the most benefit postnatal, yet keep you and your baby safe and avoid injury during pregnancy? These are the top 4 exercises that will do all of that and more.
PRE & POSTNATAL EXERCISES
As we prepare the pelvis for a successful childbirth, doing postural stabilization exercises daily in order to maintain your core are crucial. This piece of the post-partum puzzle is very important, especially since your body will quickly change shape, weight, and your center of gravity will shift post-partum.
1. The Pelvic TiltThis exercise is one that you can do against a wall, feet on foot-length away from the wall, backs flattened, and tilt your pelvis forward while arching your back and inhaling. While exhaling pull your pelvis back in, flattening the back once again against the wall. You can also practice this pelvic exercise on an exercise ball. The pelvic tilt exercise is going to assist during pregnancy to manage the weight shift from the growing belly against the low back. Post-partum, this exercise is going to help you to quickly regain your center of balance and strengthen the abdominal muscles and core.
This exercise will support a healthy pelvic floor for post-partum. By reinforcing the uterus and bladder after giving birth you can work to prevent urinary leakage or possibly even a prolapsed uterus, not to mention provide a more confident sexual experience. This exercise is a must for pregnant women. Kegel exercises are performed by first identifying the right pelvic floor muscles by stopping midstream during urination. These are the muscles that benefit from exercises and strengthening. Tightening these muscles voluntarily, holding the contraction for five deep breathes, relax for three breathes and repeat throughout the day, minimum of three times.
3. One-Leg Balance
This is another great exercise that will really benefit you postpartum as the Multifidus muscles which hug the spine will be stable and a proper posture will be introduced so once you regain your per-pregnancy body, you will have the muscle memory to have your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over your hips and hips over your knees. The one-leg balance exercise is performed by holding onto a chair, off to one side of your body. This is very important as we do not want to risk you become off-balanced and stumble or fall from standing on one leg. With one hand on the chair, slowly raise the opposite leg, by holding the “belly button to the spine” pelvic tilt hold, keeping the pelvis level and bring the knee up to 90 degrees. Ensuring you’re not leaning backward, forward or off to either side, maintaining 90 degrees at the ankle, knee and hip. Holding this position for five deep breaths then repeating on the opposite side. Repeating this exercise twice each day will help for post-partum comfortability and stability.
4. Neck Retractions
This exercise will help you post-partum specifically while breastfeeding. Helping you while pregnant prepare your body for the new posture of breastfeeding, will allow for better adjustments, decreased pain and awareness of nursing posture post-partum. These can be performed in various ways. First being the interlacing of fingers, placing the hands behind your head, elbows out to either side. As you push your head against the counter-pressure of your hands, your elbows coming forward, isolating the suboccipital and cervical muscles with each retraction, holding for two deep breaths, then exhaling and releasing the retraction. An additional way to do this exercise it to push your head back against the headrest of your vehicle at every red light or stop sign, holding for two deep breaths. Ensure you are moving your head straight back on z-axis, not looking up or down and inducing a curve to the cervical spine. This can help with the common “nursing neck” or upper back discomfort that comes with breastfeeding, as moms are adopting a new micro-traumatic posture and likely not paying attention to their shoulders or neck positioning but rather their new gorgeous baby!
These exercises done correctly and twice a day can be a total game changer for new moms. Remember to consult with your physician before starting any new exercise, stay hydrated and have someone watch you do each exercise to help ensure proper ergonomics.