Exercises for post-pregnancy, post-partum recovery

5 Most Effective Post Pregnancy Exercises

Post-pregnancy physio exercises hold paramount importance in a new mother’s journey toward physical recovery and overall well-being. Childbirth, while a beautiful process, places significant strain on the body, especially on areas like the pelvic floor and the abdominal muscles. Following delivery, many women experience the weakening or even separation of abdominal muscles, known as diastasis recti. Targeted physio exercises can help restore core strength, mend this gap, and enhance pelvic stability. Moreover, the altered body mechanics and added weight during pregnancy often lead to postural imbalances, which can result in chronic back and shoulder pain. Physio exercises assist in rectifying these postural issues, alleviating pain, and preventing long-term musculoskeletal complications. On a broader spectrum, these exercises offer mothers an avenue to manage their weight post-delivery and build the much-needed stamina to care for their newborns. Furthermore, the act of engaging in regular physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, which can combat postpartum mood swings and depression. Lastly, with a robust post-pregnancy physio routine, women can not only expedite their overall recovery process but also set a strong foundation for any subsequent pregnancies. Given these multifaceted benefits, post pregnancy exercises emerge as an essential component of postnatal care.

Here are the 5 most effective exercises for post-pregnancy recovery.

1. Deep Abdominal Breathing with Pelvic Floor Activation (Kegels):

Deep Abdominal Breathing combined with Pelvic Floor Activation, commonly referred to as Kegels, is a foundational exercise for core and pelvic floor strength post pregnancy. Here’s a breakdown of how to perform it:


Begin by lying down on a comfortable flat surface with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your lower abdomen to feel the rise and fall during breathing.

Deep Abdominal Breathing:

Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise as it fills with air. You should feel your diaphragm expand and move downwards. Exhale through your mouth, emptying your lungs completely and feeling your diaphragm move upwards.

Pelvic Floor Activation (Kegels):

As you exhale, gently contract your pelvic floor muscles. Imagine you’re trying to stop the flow of urine or prevent passing gas. It’s a subtle lift and tightening sensation. Hold the contraction for a few seconds (start with 3-5 seconds and work your way up).

Release and Relax:

As you inhale again, relax the pelvic floor muscles completely, allowing them to descend and recover.


Continue the pattern of deep breathing combined with pelvic floor activation for several repetitions. Start with 10 and increase as your strength improves.

Benefits for Post-pregnancy Recovery:

  • Pelvic Floor Strengthening: Pregnancy and childbirth can stretch and weaken the pelvic floor muscles, leading to urinary incontinence and decreased sexual sensation. Regular Kegels can strengthen these muscles, helping to prevent or alleviate such issues.
  • Core Engagement: Deep abdominal breathing stimulates the deep core muscles, promoting healing and helping to restore core stability after childbirth.
  • Enhanced Recovery: Combining these techniques can aid in faster recovery post-delivery, especially after a vaginal birth.
  • Reduced Risk of Prolapse: Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can decrease the risk of pelvic organ prolapse, a condition where the pelvic organs descend due to weak supporting tissues.
  • Relaxation and Stress Relief: Deep breathing in itself is a relaxation technique and can be helpful in managing postpartum stress or anxiety.

2. Bridges:

Bridges are a valuable exercise for post-pregnancy recovery as they target several crucial muscle groups impacted during pregnancy and childbirth. Here’s a detailed breakdown:


Lie on your back on a comfortable flat surface, such as a yoga mat. Your knees should be bent with feet flat on the floor, positioned hip-width apart. Arms should rest by your sides.


Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button in towards your spine. Press through your heels and lift your hips off the floor, aiming to create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Ensure the movement is smooth, and you’re squeezing your glutes (buttock muscles) at the top. Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position.


Start with 1 set of 10 repetitions and gradually increase as your strength improves.

Benefits for Post-pregnancy Recovery:

  • Strengthening: Bridges primarily target the gluteal muscles, hamstrings, and lower back, all of which can become weak or strained during pregnancy due to the increased load and altered posture.
  • Core Activation: This exercise requires engagement of the core, aiding in the restoration of abdominal muscle function and strength.
  • Pelvic Stability: Bridges can help in stabilizing the pelvis, which is crucial after childbirth. It can also aid in the recovery of the pelvic floor when combined with proper breathing and pelvic floor activation.
  • Improved Posture: Regularly performing bridges can help counteract the postural changes that occur during pregnancy, such as anterior pelvic tilt and increased lumbar lordosis.
  • Functional Benefits: Strengthening these muscle groups helps new mothers in daily tasks, from lifting the baby to getting up from sitting positions.

3. Modified Plank:

The modified plank is a beneficial exercise for post-pregnancy recovery, offering a less intense alternative to the traditional plank. It helps engage and strengthen the core without placing excessive pressure on the abdominal muscles, which is particularly advantageous for mothers recovering from diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles).


Start on all fours, with your hands positioned directly below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Ensure your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are in a straight line. Keep your spine neutral, not allowing the back to sag or arch excessively.


Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button gently towards your spine. Extend one leg straight back with toes on the ground, followed by the other leg, so you’re supporting your weight on your hands and toes. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels, ensuring that your hips aren’t sagging or piking up. Maintain a neutral neck by looking down at the floor, a few inches in front of your hands.


Aim to hold the position for 10-20 seconds initially, gradually increasing the duration as your strength improves.

Benefits for Post-pregnancy Recovery:

  • Core Strengthening: The modified plank targets the entire core, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis, promoting muscle recovery and toning after pregnancy.
  • Pelvic Floor Engagement: Holding the plank position requires simultaneous engagement of the pelvic floor, fostering its recovery and strength.
  • Enhanced Posture: The exercise helps counteract postural imbalances that may arise during pregnancy, like anterior pelvic tilt.
  • Upper Body Strengthening: Supporting body weight on the arms also strengthens the shoulders, chest, and back, which is beneficial for new mothers in lifting and holding their baby.

4. Wall Push-ups:

Wall push-ups are an excellent choice for post-pregnancy recovery as they provide an upper body strengthening exercise that’s gentler than traditional push-ups, yet effective. This modification is particularly useful for new mothers as it offers less strain on the abdominal muscles and back while still targeting the arms, chest, and shoulders.


Stand facing a wall, roughly an arm’s length away. Place your palms on the wall at shoulder height, fingers pointing upwards. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.


With your feet remaining stationary, bend your elbows to lower your body towards the wall in a controlled motion. Ensure your spine remains neutral, and your core is gently engaged. Press back, extending your elbows and pushing your body away from the wall to return to the starting position.


Begin with 1 set of 10 repetitions, gradually increasing sets and reps as your strength improves.

Benefits for Post-pregnancy Recovery:

  • Upper Body Strengthening: Wall push-ups target the pectoral (chest) muscles, deltoids (shoulders), and triceps (back of the arms). Strengthening these areas assists new mothers in daily tasks like lifting and holding their baby.
  • Core Engagement: Although it’s an upper body exercise, maintaining a straight body line during the movement requires subtle core engagement, promoting core muscle recovery and strength without excessive strain.
  • Posture Improvement: By strengthening the upper body, especially the chest and back, wall push-ups can help in rectifying the forward shoulder posture that often develops from activities like breastfeeding or carrying the baby.
  • Versatility: This exercise can be done anywhere with a sturdy wall, making it convenient for new mothers.
  • Safety: Wall push-ups are a safer alternative in the early postpartum phase, offering less strain on the abdominal area, especially important for mothers who experienced diastasis recti or had a C-section.

5. Heel Slides:

Heel slides are a foundational exercise in the early stages of post-pregnancy recovery, primarily focusing on enhancing mobility and gently activating the abdominal muscles without placing undue stress on them.


Lie on your back on a comfortable flat surface, such as a yoga mat. Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Place your arms by your sides.


Engage your core muscles lightly by imagining you’re pulling your belly button towards the spine. Slowly slide the heel of one leg forward, straightening the knee as you go. Once the leg is fully extended, slide the heel back, returning the knee to its bent position. Repeat with the other leg.


Start with 1 set of 10 repetitions for each leg, gradually increasing sets and reps as you grow stronger and more comfortable.

Benefits for Post-pregnancy Recovery:

  • Gentle Core Activation: Heel slides activate the lower abdominal muscles without demanding aggressive contractions. This is especially useful in the early postpartum period or for mothers recovering from diastasis recti.
  • Improved Hip Mobility: The sliding motion helps in regaining and maintaining hip joint mobility, which can be affected due to pregnancy-related biomechanical changes.
  • Pelvic Floor Awareness: As a low-impact exercise, heel slides allow mothers to focus on the simultaneous engagement of the pelvic floor thereby fostering its recovery.
  • Safe Rehabilitation: Given its gentle nature, heel slides are particularly suitable for mothers who have had a C-section, offering a safe way to initiate abdominal muscle reactivation without causing strain.
  • Functional Benefits: As a foundational movement, heel slides pave the way for more advanced exercises by establishing core control and hip mobility.

To get the best results, always consult a physiotherapist before beginning any postpartum exercise regimen, so that these exercises can be customized to your health condition and your body framework. At Curezone Physiotherapy, our highly trained Women’s Health Physiotherapists are ready to support you get back to your best shape and form!

Click below to book an appointment with one of our expert physiotherapists to assist you with these post pregnancy exercises.

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