Are there any exercises I can do to start strengthening my core within the first 6 weeks of having my baby?
It’s great that you’re making plans for taking care of yourself after your baby comes. First and foremost, before beginning any exercise after pregnancy and childbirth, be sure to check with your doctor. Whether you have a vaginal delivery or cesarean section, both require time for healing.
Depending on where you live, you may have access to exercise groups that specialize in working with new mothers. Fit4Mom is one that comes to mind. Not only do they focus specifically on fitness for new moms but they help you build a supportive community with other new parents. Fitness + a social outing = WIN! Oh, and classes include your wee one so no need to worry about finding a babysitter.
You might also find yoga classes in your area or online that focus on the postpartum period, and a prenatal yoga instructor would be a good contact for those.
I reached out to Nicole Norris, owner/instructor of Fit4Mom in North Carolina. She said, though most doctors recommend waiting 6 weeks after delivery before beginning moderate intensity workouts, there are several things you can do to strengthen your core within those first 6 weeks.
“Walking is the best exercise to perform immediately postpartum,” Nicole said. “It can help redistribute the fluid in your legs, improve your circulation and strengthen your muscles and joints.”
Nicole also recommends Kegel exercises postpartum as a way to rebuild the pelvic floor. “The pelvic floor is an important component for core recovery,” Nicole said. “Many women that I have worked with have found that consulting with a pelvic floor therapist was critical to their recovery.”
Loretta Jo Schlatzer, founder of Yoga-Mojo in Cary, NC, said, “Once they have the go-ahead from their doctor, a gentle yoga practice is a great option but still with caution. Within the first six weeks after birth, core muscles have been stretched so it’s critical to go slow and incorporate yoga poses that support the core as well as postpone more core-focused poses like boat pose or crunches.”
With that said, Loretto Jo recommends easy pelvic tilts (supine) and happy baby pose as two poses that are considered safe and helpful to a woman after having a baby. “In addition, baby bridges and supine one knee to chest hugs are great. Small baby cobras can be helpful, too,” she said.
Gentle yoga not only aids the postpartum body in recovery but also supports overall well-being – both mentally and emotionally – for the new mama.
Hopefully this gives you ideas but please be sure to consult experts and your physician before getting started.