Exercises You Can Do Right After Giving Birth

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

Breathing

After your baby takes their first breath, you can also work on your deep breathing. Your breathing is likely to feel different for the first few days after giving birth as your organs return to their former positions. This breathing exercise is a bit deeper than most.

  1. Place your hands low on your abdomen and practice slowly breathing in until you can feel your hands move.
  2. Then slowly exhale.
  3. Repeat this about 5 to 8 times. It can really help you feel better physically and emotionally.

Leg and Arm Circles

This is as simple as it sounds.

  1. Lift your legs up a bit while laying in bed, or hang them over the side, and simply rotate each foot around 8 to 10 times.
  2. Be sure to do both sides.
  3. Repeat with your arms.

Leg Slides

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.

  1. Sitting up in bed, bend your knees.
  2. Let one leg slide out until it's extended.
  3. As you slide it back up, slide the other leg until it's extended.
  4. Repeat this 10 to 12 times for each side.

Kegels

Exercising your pelvic floor can be beneficial, even if you had a cesarean birth. It will help increase the blood flow to heal any sutures, and will also help restore the muscles to their pre-pregnancy shape. This includes the muscles that help with bladder control. However, not everyone should do Kegels immediately after birth. Talk to your doctor to find out if they are okay for you.

Neck Stretches 

Breastfeeding and baby holding can really make your neck stiff. Be sure to relax your neck a few times each day.

  1. Gently 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.
  2. Lift your head and drop your right ear to your right shoulder, again taking care to be gentle in your movements. Let it rest there for 5 to 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Once again returning to center, carefully relax your head backward, gazing upward and holding for 5 to 10 seconds.
  5. Repeat as often as you like.

Returning to Exercise

Aim to progress slowly, doing a bit more each day. Many moms are able to take walks with their babies 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 those who had healthy pregnancies and uncomplicated deliveries, you should be able to start exercising after a few days, as soon as you feel you are ready.

For those who had a c-section or other complications, ask your healthcare provider when it is safe to resume exercise. This may happen at your six-week postpartum checkup.

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