When I found out I was pregnant with our first
child, I set out to train for this birth like it was
a marathon. I respected my body by cutting out
high intensity training and kept my heart rate in
a safe zone, but I was determined to prepare my
body like it were a competition. And the prize at
the end. . . my sweet bundle of joy!
My goal was to be flexible, strong, and agile
enough to make it through this season of my life
with as few battle wounds as possible.
I was surprised though that despite my work to
stay strong through pregnancy, I shared the
same experience as all new moms. My muscles
felt weak in my midsection, I acquired bad
posture, my body aches, and I experienced
There are three strategies I recommend new
moms incorporate into their exercise routines to
regain strength, an optimal level of activity, and
remain pain free.
The "12 weeks to a Rockin' Post Baby Body"
(or whatever plan you can find on Pinterest) can
wait until you master these areas first.
1. Gently work your core and pelvic floor
For many moms, the first sign of lack of strength
comes when your back starts to ache while
holding that tiny baby. Since the abdominal
muscles aren't providing support, your back is
working overtime to keep your body upright.
Before hitting the floor for crunches or planks,
we must first work on abdominal bracing. Lying
on the floor with knees bent and feet flat,
contract your stomach muscles while pulling
your belly button in toward your spine.
The hard part. . . don't hold your breath!
From this same face up position on the floor, try
a pelvic tilt by pressing your low back into the
floor. Hold this position for five seconds and
These may sound "too simple" but they are the
best way to tighten, tone, and strengthen the
weak core muscles.
2. Retrain Your posture
It’s natural and normal for your posture to
change during pregnancy. Post partum feeding,
changing, and holding a baby affects your
posture as well. So be sure to incorporate
exercises to strengthen the back and postural
To find a good sitting position, sit with your feet
flat on the floor using a stool if necessary. It is
helpful to use a rolled towel or pillow across your
low back to help hold the natural curve of your
To improve standing posture, work on gentle
wall or ball squats with a straight upright
posture. This is also the posture you want to
maintain when lifting your baby. Improved
sitting and standing posture will improve
aches and pain, as well as decrease injury.
3. Involve breathing in exercise
I know we breath during all exercise, but I am
talking about intentional breathing. Belly
breathing involves allowing your stomach to
expand and contract while you actively inhale
and exhale as deeply as possible.
This is a great exercise in itself. It sends
relaxing hormones to tense muscles and can
help manage stress.
In addition, the diaphragm is the top of your
abdominal cavity and plays a role in assisting
core and pelvic floor muscles to do their job
Progress Your Training
As your body recovers and you progress your
training, don't forget about these basics. You
can continue to utilize these techniques as
part of a warm up or cool down for a strength
or cardio session.
When cleared to exercise, I recommend new
moms consider yoga, Pilates, or Barre classes
that often address all three of these areas. If
you experience pain during a class, or any
post partum exercise please know this is
NOT a normal part of recovery.
Back, hip and pelvic pain can often be easily
addressed by a physical therapist to allow you
to continue with your favorite exercise program.
Your efforts will be more effective and you will
feel results more quickly.
Speak with a physical therapist TODAY about
any of your post partum exercise, pain, or
movement questions. Just click HERE.