These are designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are weakened by pregnancy and the birth process even if cesarean. Start gently.
- Squeeze the pelvic floor muscle for three seconds, relax the muscle for three seconds, then squeeze again.
- Begin with 10 three-second squeezes, three times a day. Increase repetitions gradually.
- Work up to doing 50 to 100 Kegels each day.
Note: Do not do all of the kegels in one session, as these muscles fatigue quickly. Each week, reassess your holding time and increase your hold until you are able to perform a 10 second hold.
3. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing is essentially abdominal tightening on outward breath. Laying on your back place your hands over your abdomen, inhale, and allow your belly to rise as it fills with air. Exhale through your mouth as you tighten your abs, pulling them in towards your spine. Your stomach should flatten, not bulge, as you exhale.
4. Pelvic Tilt
While it may seem basic, this simple exercise can be quite difficult if you have lost strength in your core. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Exhale, engage the abs and tilt your pelvic upward, flattening the small of your back. Return to neutral and repeat.
5. Ankle Circles
While this exercise won't help you get your pre-pregnancy body back, it is important to prevent thrombosis. Ankle circles increase circulation and prevent swelling. Do 10 circles on each foot, 3 to 5 times.
6. Leg Slide
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Engage abdominal wall. Slide one leg out away from body. Slide back and repeat. Do 10 leg slides on each side, 3 to 5 times.
While you may be eager to get back to traditional exercise, it's important to take it slow. Most doctors will recommend you wait 6 to 8 weeks for traditional exercise. They are waiting for the uterus to resume to normal size and for your incision to heal. When the time comes, progress slowly.
Lisa Druxman, M.A., the creator of Stroller Strides, is a nationally recognized speaker, author and highly regarded expert in the field of pre/postnatal fitness.
Stroller Strides is a total fitness program for new moms that they can do with their babies. It includes power walking and intervals of body toning, using exercise tubing and the stroller. Taught by trained instructors, it's a great workout for any level of fitness. For information on classes or franchising, visit www.strollerstrides.com or call 866-348-4666.