No time to go to the gym? Can’t bear to leave Baby behind while you head out to work out? No problem, new mum, you can do these postnatal exercises cot-side, at home!
It is natural for all mothers to gain weight during the course of their pregnancy. Even after giving birth to their child, many mothers face the problem of having to shed all the weight that they gained and start including more rigorous activities in their lifestyle.
For many, getting back into shape post-pregnancy is not easy. After carrying a baby in your womb for a good nine months, your abdominal muscles will be stretched and weakened. Rebuilding your core strength is key to getting back to your pre-pregnancy physique and fitness level.
Here are five post-pregnancy workouts you can do in the comfort of your bedroom to help you get back in shape. Do note that these exercises should only be done after consulting your doctor. Starting rigorous exercises too soon after your pregnancy may have negative impacts on your physical health, especially if you were not active before or during your pregnancy.
#1 Floor Bridges
Target areas: glutes, hamstrings, hips, back, abdominal muscles
Floor bridges are a very common exercise done by yoga-enthusiasts. For this exercise, it is recommended that you use a yoga mat or any other padded surface. Baby optional!
How to do it:
1. Lie flat on your back with your arms at your side.
2. Keep the soles of your feel flat on the floor with your knees bent at about 90 degrees, shoulder-width apart.
3. Lift your hips off the ground using your feet for support and triggering your glutes. While doing this, your shoulders should be firmly planted on the ground to support your body. Your knees, hips and shoulders should be in a straight line.
4. Hold this pose (with your knees about 45 degrees bent) for a few seconds. Slowly lower your hips to the ground.
5. Repeat above steps 10 times for 3 sets.
#2 Sumo Squats
Target areas: quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, hip flexors and calves.
Most people are familiar with doing regular squats, with or without weights. A sumo squat is slightly different from a regular squat. In a sumo squat, your feet are placed in a wider stance and there is more focus on your inner thighs.
How to do it:
1. Stand on a flat surface with your feet your feet further apart (wider than hip-width) and angle your toes outwards.
2. From standing position, bend your knees to squat downwards while keeping your back straight, almost like you are sitting down onto a chair. Your arms should be straight up next to your ears.
3. After reaching the bottom of the squat (at 90 degrees), stand up while putting pressure on your heels.
4. Repeat above steps 10 times for 3 sets. To challenge yourself, you can add weights to this exercise by holding dumbbells while doing your sumo squats.
Target areas: quadriceps, glutes, abdominal muscles, hamstring, calves.
Lunges are a good exercise to work out several muscle groups at once. This exercise mainly helps you to tone your lower body.
How to do it:
1. Start by standing straight with both feet close to shoulder width apart.
2. Step forward with one leg while lowering your hips perpendicular to the ground. Both knees should be bent at 90 degrees.
3. Look straight ahead and make sure your front knee does not edge further than your toes. Keep your back straight to avoid any strain on your back.
4. Repeat with the other leg.
5. Repeat above steps 10 times each leg for 3 sets. You can do this exercise on the spot or do walking lunges. To challenge yourself, you can add weights to this exercise by holding dumbbells while doing your lunges.
Target areas: abdominal muscles, glutes, obliques, back
When performing this exercise, do not overwork yourself by holding the position for too long, especially when you are just starting out. Slowly get your body physically used to doing planks before you extend the duration of each set.
How to do it:
1. Using your forearm and elbow flat on the floor as well as your toes to support your weight, lift your body off the ground to get into plank position. Remember not to lift your buttocks too high to avoid straining your back.
2. Hold this position with your shoulder to toes in a straight line for 30 to 60 seconds.
3. Lower your body to the floor and take a short breather.
4. Repeat above steps for 3 sets. To challenge yourself, you can do side planks after doing normal planks.
#5 Yoga Boat
Target areas: abdominal muscles, lower back, spine
This is another yoga pose that centres on building your core muscles while strengthening your lower back. Lower back strength is important to help you maintain a good posture, especially when carrying your baby for long durations.
How to do it:
1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent.
2. Lift your legs off the floor and lean backwards while keeping your spine straight. Your entire weight will be resting on your buttocks. Your shins should be parallel to the ground and your hips at a 90-degree angle.
3. Extend your arms forward with your palms facing each other.
4. Hold this position for 30 seconds before lowering your legs to the floor.
5. Repeat above steps for 3 sets.
The first step is often the most difficult. However, each step that you take brings you a little closer to achieving your pre-pregnancy physique and fitness level. Moreover, these activities can be done without any equipment, in the comfort of your home, so there’s no need to be away from Baby at all!
The sooner you start these exercises, the sooner you can get back to shape and fit into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe. Isn’t that great motivation to start moving today?
This article was contributed by AIA Singapore, whose wellness programme AIA Vitality, motivates members to stay healthy with exclusive discounts at selected gyms, fitness facilities, and insurance premiums.
Feature image: Dakota Corbin on Unsplash