Cassandra McCoy Physical Health

5 Exercises You Can Begin The First Few Weeks Postpartum

by Cassandra McCoy MAT, ATC, LAT

*As always, consult your medical provider before beginning any exercises.

During our first month postpartum,  a lot of our attention goes to our newborn baby(ies). Sometimes during this period, our personal health and self care can fall by the wayside. Gentle movements can help you heal postpartum, as well, as improve your mood and so much more. Movement early postpartum doesn’t have to be fancy and by incorporating simple movements throughout your day, you have a better chance of actually getting the movement in. Here are 5 basic exercises anyone can do postpartum and beyond!

Breath Work

Purpose of this exericse: to reeducate the body on optimal breathing mechanics, improve healing, manage intra abdominal pressure, regulate tension, stress and more!

How to do the exercise:

Reconnecting with your breath is key. That is why it is the second step in my P. B. I. T. system that we cover in The Fundamentals of Returning to Exercise After Baby. It helps to reconnect your mind and body and jumpstart the healing process. Start with a basic breathing exercise on your back. Bending your knees with your feet on the floor. As you inhale, focus on expanding through your core and as you exhale, focus on lifting and sending that air up and out through your mouth.

Pelvic Tilts

Purpose of this exercise: to begin bringing movement back into the hips and lumbar spine via a controlled movement, reconnecting with the body and breath.

How to do this exercise:

 This exercise is done on your back with both knees bent, heels slid up towards your bum. Exhale, engage your lower abdominals, maybe with a slight cough to start, and then tuck your bum under like you are a dog trying to hide your tail. Then relax back to start. Important note: Don’t use only your bum muscles, here try to tuck your tail trying to use your lower abdominals as well. This will take time and brain work so don’t get frustrated and stick with it. 

Windshield Wipers:

Purpose of this exercise: To mobilize your lumbar and mid spine and relieve tension and pressure.

How to do this exercise:

This is a great relaxing stretch, think of it as a wave. Laying on your back, feet on the floor, bring your feet and legs together with your arms out like a T to the side. As you inhale, slowly let your knee fall towards the right while keeping your left hip on the ground. Exhale, slowly lift your legs back to start. Now inhale your knees to the left and exhale them back to center. This might not be a very big movement right now and that is ok. Move slowly and try to focus on the middle back and hips feeling a nice gentle release and you moving side to side.

Shoulder Rotations:

Purpose of this exercise: To get the shoulders moving and help improve your posture during this time of increased sitting.

How to do this exercise:

Sitting tall with a pillow or cushion under your bum, you should be stacked over your ribs, take a deep breath in and out. On your next inhale, lift your shoulders towards your ears, and then gently exhale and float the shoulder back and down towards your hips. Inhale, lift the shoulders towards your ears and exhale round them forwards and back down towards your hips. Do this 5 to 10 times.

Neck release: 

Purpose of this exercise: To help with tension in the upper back and neck, help with posture, and relieve tension headaches.

How to do this exercise:

Sitting tall with a pillow or cushion under your bum, you should be stacked over your ribs, take a deep breath in and out. Pull tall through the crown of your head by imagining being lifted up towards the ceiling by your ponytail. On your next inhale, lengthen your neck a bit more, exhale, float the head gently over to the right. Allow both shoulders to melt away from the ears. Take a deep breath here. Return back to center. Repeat on the other side, always growing taller before you move. Do this 5 to 10 times per side, moving with your inhale and exhale.

Find more exercises and important information you need to know immediately postpartum in my Ebook “The Starting Line Postpartum”! Want to receive a free E-book of 15 done-for-you Mama Movement exercises with video tutorials with your purchase? Sign up for updates HERE and be the first to know when the Starting Line Postpartum is available August 17th!