I will never forget driving home from the hospital after having our first baby. The shiny new baby seat that had been empty, ready and waiting, now had a little person in it. My husband and I both looked at each thinking, ‘what happens now!’
We survived the car trip home, the sleepless nights to follow, the engorged and leaky boobs, what seemed like 5,000 nappies each day, and we relished in the overwhelming joy of our precious little baby boy.
Three babies later, I have always looked to some gentle postnatal exercise in those first 6-9 weeks after giving birth. When keeping a schedule and getting to a studio class is all but impossible! For me, exercise really is like therapy, but better, and cheaper! Not only do our muscles love the reward of being stimulated and stretched, but the power of those endorphins that exercise releases are like a magic tonic.
New mothers are often told they are not meant to do any exercise until 6 weeks postpartum. Every individual is different of course, and your physical state and ability to exercise will depend on a number of factors. I know for me however, I would have gone crazy without doing some kind of exercise in those first weeks following birth. I don’t mean you should go and jump straight into a bootcamp by any means! But doing some gentle postnatal exercises that are healthy and healing for the body, that you can perform while bonding with your baby or while they are napping, can be extremely empowering and beneficial after giving birth.
Here are some my favourite ‘Baby and Me’ postnatal exercises that you can try with your own newborn.
These images were shot in real time with my daughter Sylvie between 2–10 weeks of age. You can enjoy some longer programs with Sylvie and I on the Xtend Barre on the go app.
- Gentle Plié (shot at 1 week old)
This is a great postpartum abdominal exercise to just start waking up the body again. Learning to reconnect with your deep abdominals, stand up tall, and elongate the spine after the changes it made during the 9 months of carrying your baby. Pop your favourite music on and aim to do pliés moving up and down at different tempos and different ranges. Hold at the bottom of the plié and do some pelvic tilts to really engage and focus on your deep abs.
- Tummy time fun (shot at 3 weeks postpartum)
It’s so nice to open your chest in this exercise after all the time spent bent over feeding, changing nappies, and settling your baby. This is a nice way to stretch the upper back without over stretching any of your healing abdominals. It’s also a great way to spend 2 or 3 minutes doing some tummy time with your darling.
- Baby booty series (shot at week 7 postpartum)
We all want our tushy’s to be tight, baby or no baby! This is a great little series that you can do in the nursery, lounge room or anywhere you can safely pop your baby next to you for some bonding time whilst toning your booty!
- Modified Side Plank Series (shot at 9-10 weeks postpartum)
You are starting to feel a bit more like you now and this is a great stability challenge. You should only advance to the progression if you feel completely confident doing the initial modified plank series.
These postnatal exercises will help to realign, restore, and release your body after giving birth. Like with any exercise, only do what feels right for you and what repetitions feel good for your body. Be kind to yourself and enjoy these first moments with your baby.
Rockell Williamson-Rudder launched the Xtend Barre workout in Australia and is the previous owner of Xtend Barre Sydney CBD. Prior to Xtend Barre, Rockell danced for the Moulin Rouge and toured Australia with Grease the Musical. She has also featured in TV commercials and a TV series for the SBS.
Photo credits – Alicia Lee Photography