5 Exercises You Can Do Right After Giving Birth

For Vaginal or Cesarean Birth

New family with baby
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You've probably heard that you need to wait days to weeks giving birth to do exercises. While that statement is true on the whole, there are exercises that you can do within hours of your birth, vaginal or cesarean section. These simple moves can help you start feeling better and regaining strength.

Exercise Right After Giving Birth

  1. Breathing
    After your baby takes his first breath, you can also work on your deep breathing. Your breathing is likely to feel different the first few days after giving birth as your organs return to their former positions. This breathing exercise is a bit deeper than most. Place your hands low on your abdomen and practice slowly breathing in until you can feel your hands move. Then slowly exhale. Repeat this about 5 to 8 times. It can really help you feel better physically and emotionally.
  1. Legs and Arm Circles
    This is as simple as it sounds. Lift your legs up a bit while laying in bed or hanging them over the side and simply rotate each foot around 8 to 10 times. Be sure to do both sides. Repeat this with your arms.
  2. Leg Slides
    Sitting up in bed, bend your knees. Let one leg slide out until it's extended. As you slide it back up, slide the other leg until it's extended. Repeat this 10 to 12 times for each side. This is not a fast movement, but a gentle sliding. This can help you focus on your legs, particularly after an epidural, as well as help to prevent blood clots.
  3. Kegels
    Exercising your pelvic floor is beneficial, even if you had a cesarean birth. It will help increase the blood flow to heal any sutures, but will also help restore the muscles to their pre-pregnancy shape. This includes things like helping with bladder control. Some women report that they can't quite feel the muscles, but it is still okay to do these exercises.
  1. Neck Stretches
    Breastfeeding and baby holding can really make your neck stiff. Be sure to relax your neck a few times each day. First, drop your neck forward and let the weight of your head pull your neck and stretch it, holding it for 5 to 10 seconds for a good stretch. Lift your head and drop your right ear to your right shoulder gently. Let it rest there for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Once again returning to center, relax your head backward, gazing upward and holding it for 5 to 10 seconds. You can repeat this one as often as you like.

    Returning to Exercise

    Slowly you will progress and do a bit more each day. You'll have more and more activity caring for yourself and your baby. You'll be walking more and more, including walks outside with your baby in a stroller.

    How soon you can return to exercise depends on whether you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, a C-section, or a complicated birth. For uncomplicated deliveries, you can start exercising after a few days, as soon as you feel you are ready.

    For C-section and other complications, discuss exercise with your doctors. Before you know it, your six-week checkup will arrive and you will hopefully be given the clearance for regular exercise.

    Source:

    Exercise After Pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-After-Pregnancy.

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