You did it. You brought the most beautiful baby into this world and we are more than thrilled for you and your family! Now that you’re home from the hospital and have had a couple of days to adjust to your new routine, what’s next? Rehab and recovery.
This postpartum phase is different for everyone, so it’s important not to compare your unique story to anyone else. You may be wondering, when will I be done healing? When can I start biking or running again? When can I get back to my exercise routine? Our first goal for postpartum exercise is to rest and recover, and this resting phase is most important.
The ultimate goal is to heal and regain function so you are able to return to the activities you love most. Your body has been through an enormous amount of stress recently, so remember that there are no shortcuts to this phase. Rest and recovery have no timeline and we do not recommend skipping any steps here to try to heal faster than you are able.
During weeks 0-6, you can focus on improving your mind to muscle connections and improving strength and function of your core and pelvic floor muscles with the following exercises:
THE CONNECTION BREATH
The connection breath teaches a breathing pattern that will help strengthen the mind to muscle connection with your pelvic floor. This will encourage the pelvic floor to go through its full range of motion. This movement is as easy as ABC:
A is for Alignment
Find a neutral alignment (ribs are stacked over the pelvis) in a seated position. You will want to spread your glutes until you feel yourself sitting on top of your sitz bones (the bottom part of your pelvis), not resting on your tailbone or pubic bone.
B is for Breathing
Place one hand on your abdomen and the other hand on your rib cage just above, inhale into your hands and think about inflating your belly and pelvic floor with air. Exhale and notice your hands descend as your rib cage and abdomen deflate (imagine your pelvic floor deflating upward). Along with this quiet breathing, there should be minimal movement in your shoulders, neck, and chest. If you notice movement in the chest, try relaxing your abdominal wall and move into diaphragmatic breathing.
C is for Connection
After learning how to properly align and breathe, you are now able to connect your core and pelvic floor to complete the connection breath. This is a great exercise to continue from pregnancy throughout your postpartum phase.
CORE ACTIVATION AND STRENGTHENING
Gentle bodyweight movements here will help you start to regain function and strength. You may try movements like glute bridges, pelvic floor lifts, bird dogs, heel slides, chest stretches, or abdominal hollowing.
For many women, this may start around days 5-7 postpartum. We encourage you to walk at a leisurely pace on flat ground for short periods, 5-10 minutes, and work up over time.
Walking is an amazing way to promote healing and to get you moving again, but can be too much if overdone. So we suggest not walking too far from home so you are able to rest as soon as your body feels that it needs it.
During weeks 6+ you will progress into phase 2: return to exercise.
As soon as you have had your 6-week postnatal medical assessment and have been cleared by your doctor for exercise, we will shift focus into engaging activity that improves your overall strength and aerobic fitness.
There is no perfect layout for this phase, it will completely depend on your level of function and how you feel throughout the coming weeks. Make sure to listen to your body and rest as needed. We do walk you through much of this in our Strong as a Mother program, but there is no “right” time to progress through each stage. Take it all at the pace that feels good for your body.
Through progressive overload, we recommend starting with 2 or 3 strength training sessions and 1 or 2 moderate cardio sessions. You can also increase your light intensity walking for up to 45-60 minutes per day as frequently as you like. We suggest starting with bodyweight movements and slowly increasing weight as you feel fit.
Full body strength training (bodyweight and lightly loaded) starting at 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps is also recommended with just 4-6 exercises per session. As for cardio, starting out at moderate intensity is key such as riding a stationary bike, swimming, walking, or water aerobics. Ease in slowly to more high intensity movements as you adapt. Make sure to modify any movements you need for your body throughout its healing process.
Take your time, mama!
Remember this is not a race! Healing will take as long as it takes for your body. The important thing to remember is that you are rebuilding your foundation, so please take your time before progressing into harder programming or exercise!
We do not advise skipping any of these steps as it produces risk of slowed healing, injury, or can lead to burnout. If you are itching to get back to an activity you love full force, picture yourself returning to that favorite activity of yours fully healed and healthy in your future months, your time is coming soon!
Want everything planned for you? We’ve got you covered!
Our proprietary postpartum program, Strong as a Mother is available in the app. Join a premium subscription for access (plus access to everything else we have!) or purchase one time for $50. Just download the app to get started.