4 Postpartum Poses to Ease Back into Exercise

Janna Young holistic life coach and Pilates instructor demonstrating the chest stretch. Photo courtesy of Janna Young of Seek to Find.

Doctors might give us the green light to exercise 4-6 weeks postpartum, but that often feels too soon. Parts are still jiggling, joints feel loose, muscles chronically ache, and fatigue is overwhelming.

It might take some time to work up to an exercise routine. But there’s a lot we can do to gently wake up some of our muscles. We can gradually and deliberately ease ourselves back into physical activities with these four Pilates exercises that engage our inner unit. [Learn more about the inner unit here.]

In these instructional videos below, Janna Young of Seek to Find Coaching and Training moves us through four gentle and low-risk exercises. They address typical postpartum issues that come from having our abs stretched out, from carrying the baby, from hunching over to breastfeed, and from chronically sitting.

For more on the physical and emotional benefits of engaging our inner unit after childbirth, check out this interview with Janna Young, a holistic life coach and Pilates instructor.

Pose #1: Chest stretch to combat the baby-carrying shoulder hunch

What is this pose good for?

It combats rounded and hunched shoulders from holding your baby all day by opening your chest and shoulders. This stretch is good for those who have upper cross syndrome (when your shoulders and upper back hunch forward, typical of people who have desk jobs).

How often should we do this pose?

Twice a day. Each arm for 60 seconds at a time.

Pose #2: “Swan” for balancing posture

What is this pose good for?

It works nicely with the chest stretch. It helps combat upper cross syndrome from sitting and carrying your baby, as well as hunching over when feeding baby. It also helps strengthen your back, working on those rounded shoulders and weight shifting to the front due to breasts being heavier.

How often should we do this pose?

Rep of seven, twice a day. Four counts on the way up, hold for four, and four counts on the way down. Do this right after the chest stretch.

Pose #3: “Bridging” to get our asses off the ground, literally

What is this pose good for?

It’s great more spinal mobility. It restores supple spine and helps connect to our inner core. It strengthens the abs, lengthens the back, strengthens the glutes and hamstrings, and opens up the hip flexors, which is good for people who sit a lot. It helps combat an anterior pelvic tilt, which is when the pelvis tips forward typically during pregnancy from the extra weight at the belly.

How often should we do this pose?

Rep of seven, twice a day. Four counts on the way up, hold for four, and four counts on the way down.

Pose #4: “Modified marching” to regain control of our core

What is this pose good for?

It’s a gentle way to regain core strength in a very manageable manner. It strengthens the inner unit and helps to regain strength in a quality way. The inner unit controls lumbopelvic stability (the relationship between your lumbar spine and pelvis).

How do we know we’re engaging the pelvic floor muscles properly when doing this exercise?

When your inner unit is engaged, your abs are drawing in causing your waist to shrink rather than pooching outward. To engage your inner unit, engage your pelvic floor and draw your navel into your spine. For more discussion on the inner unit, click here.

How often should we do this pose?

Reps of seven for each leg, twice a day.

*This video includes progressions for when you master the initial movement.

**Medical disclaimer. The information provided in these posts are intended for those who have been cleared for exercise by her doctor, usually at 4-6 week postpartum. Please check with your health provider before engaging in any of these activities.

**You’ll also want to have a professional check to see if you have separation in your abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) prior to engaging in physical activities.