Supporting Women's Health and wellbeing
Regular exercise after childbirth offers a range of health benefits. For example, exercise helps you return to your
pre-pregnancy shape and gives you increased energy to cope with the demands of new motherhood.
Consult with your doctor or midwife before starting any postnatal exercise program.
You may need more time than you think to heal from childbirth. This is especially true if you had a caesarean delivery. However, you can begin exercises to tone your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles as soon as you feel ready.
If you had an episiotomy (a cut in the perineum to widen the opening during delivery) or tore your perineum during birth, pelvic floor exercises can help to speed your recovery. See your doctor, midwife or physiotherapist for more information.
Gentle tummy exercisePregnancy splits your abdominal muscles down the middle. It is important to make sure your muscles have healed before you do any vigorous abdominal exercises, such as abdominal crunches.
In the meantime, you can tone your tummy by performing an exercise that strengthens the deepest muscle layer (transversus abdominus). You can perform this exercise lying down, sitting, standing, or on your hands and knees.
Be guided by your doctor, midwife, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist, but general guidelines include:
Once the gap in your abdominal muscles has closed, you can progress to more demanding exercises. General guidelines include:
Tummy exercise – stage two
Exercise for the lower abdominal muscles
The pelvic floor muscles are tightly slung between the tailbone (coccyx) and the pubic bone, and support the bowel, bladder, uterus (womb) and vagina. Childbirth can weaken these muscles and cause problems, such as incontinence, later in life.
Pelvic floor exercisesTo exercise them, you must first direct your attention to these muscles. To help you identify these muscles, they are the ones that you tighten to stop urinating (weeing). These exercises can be performed lying down, sitting or standing.
Try to relax your abdominal muscles. Don’t bear down or hold your breath. Gradually squeeze and increase the tension until you have contracted the muscles as hard as you can. Release gently and slowly. Then perform the exercises, which include:
Types of postnatal exercise
General suggestions for aerobic exerciseBe guided by your doctor or midwife, but general suggestions include:
Warning signs to slow downDon’t overexert yourself. Your body gives out warning signs if you are exercising too hard, and these signs may include:
You should gently exercise your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles every day.
Things to remember
Reference: Better health Victoria
Q & A
Contraindication for a postnatal / postpartum massage?
A massage will not be performed with: