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 at least six weeks after giving birth to do exercises. While that statement is true on the whole, there are a couple of exercises that you can do within hours of your birth, vaginal or c-section, to help you start feeling better and regaining strength.

  1. Breathing
    Don't laugh, breathing is important. After all of my kids were born, but especially my twins, breathing felt different the first few days after birth as my organs went back to where they were originally. 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 5-8 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 8-10 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 10-12 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 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, it is still okay to do these exercises.
  1. Neck Stretches
    Breastfeeding and baby holding can really make your neck stiff. A few times each day be sure to relax your neck. First, drop your neck forward and let the weight of your head pull your neck and stretch it, holding it for 5-10 seconds for a good stretch. Lift your head and drop your right ear to your right shoulder gently. Let it rest there for 5-10 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Once again returning to center, relax your head backward, gazing upward and holding it for 5-10 seconds. You can repeat this one as often as you like.

    Slowly you will progress and do a bit more each day like walking and caring for yourself and your baby. Before you know it, your six-week check-up is on you and you will hopefully be given the clearance for regular exercise.

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