Firm Foundations™ – Pregnancy and Postnatal Fitness

Post natal Exercises Level 2
(3 - 8 weeks)

Post natal Exercises 3 - 8 weeks Each exercise should be done at your own comfort level. You should feel no pain or discomfort while doing any of these exercises. Check that your posture and form are in good alignment and breathe easily with each exercise. Holding your breath can put downwards pressure on your pelvic floor. Make sure that with any exercise your pelvic floor is able to lift and hold, otherwise it is too hard for you at the moment. Go back to Level 1 exercises, wait until your pelvic floor control improves and then come back to the exercise a few weeks later.

Disclaimer: This exercise handout is not intended to replace the advice of a health and fitness professional who can tailor your program specifically to your health and fitness needs.

Photos and models by Fitness, Form and Function and Stuart Frost Photography

1Cat stretch

Starting position
Finishing position

Exercise 1
Start on your hands and knees.
Curl your back, arching like a cat. Relax.
Repeat and hold for 3 - 10 seconds.
Slowly release back to the start position.
Change the position of your hands slightly, moving them forwards or backwards to feel the stretch in a different part of your back.
Exercise 2
Gently draw in your stomach muscles in before you start this movement.
Check at the end of the curl that you feel no pressure down on your pelvic floor.
This is an alternative to a curl up, and a safer choice for your pelvic floor.

2Hands and knees abdominal brace

Starting position
Rest position

Focus on your alignment.
Set your shoulder blades into position.
Check your hands are under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
Draw in your pelvic floor and your lower abdominal muscles.
Hold. Keep breathing easily.
Aim to hold this for 2 - 3 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Build up to holding for 10 seconds,with 10 reps.
Rest for 8- 10 seconds between each rep.

Rock back for a rest between contractions.

3Hands and knees arm reach

Starting position
Progress on to arm reach

When Exercise 1 is easy, progress to arm reaches.
Set your position.
Draw in your pelvic floor and lower abdominals.
Keep your back and shoulder steady and reach forwards.
Return to the starting position and then change sides.
Build up to doing 10 on each side.
Reset your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles each time before you start.
Keep breathing easily - if you start to hold your breath, stop and have a rest.

4Pelvic Tilt in Lying

Starting position
Finishing position

Start with your knees bent, so your back feels comfortable.
Slowly flatten your lower back onto the floor and then release.
Focus on and feel your abdominal muscles working as you repeat this.
Keep breathing easily.
To focus further roll one part of your lower back onto the floor at a time.
Hold, then release slowly.
Precautions: No pelvic floor strain should be felt or bulging of your the abdominal muscles noticed.

5Postnatal abdominal bracing with pram

Starting position

Draw in your abdominals while you push the pram.
Be careful to not hold your breath.
Refocus each time you do this.
Check that your lower abdominals are working.
The muscles under your ribcage should not overtighten.
As this becomes easier begin to do this while walking with the pram. Be careful not to pull in strongly or hold your breath while your pelvic floor is recovering as this can cause pressure down on your pelvic floor.

6Bracing and posture check in standing

Starting position

Stand tall with your weight evenly on both feet.
Lift yourself up from your chest.
Position your pelvis with small adjustments to feel your abdominal muscles work.
Hold your tall position.
Breathe easily as you do this.
Aim to feel the natural curve in your lower back.
Feel the natural activity of your abdominal muscles as they switch on.
Add a gentle draw in when you are in your tall position.

7Sitting Pelvic Circles

Starting position
Move to one side then the other

Sitting tall on a ball.
Move your hips and pelvis slowly to one side.
Keep control of the movement.
Stop. Move back to the starting position.
Repeat to the other side.

When you are confident then start to form circles.
Move your hips and pelvis and let the ball move.
Add forming a figure eight with the ball. Change direction.
Make sure that you don't hold your breath or overtighten your upper abdominal area.
Relax back to the starting position to rest as needed.
Precaution: You should feel no pelvic joint pain at the front or back while doing this.

8Sitting Pelvic Floor

Starting position 1
Starting position 2

Sit tall.
Lift your pelvic floor muscles up inside your pelvis.
Keep breathing normally. Hold for 2-3 seconds.
Check that your legs and bottom stay relaxed. 
Relax for 2-3 seconds.
Repeat and build up the hold time to match your pelvic floor ability.
Aim to build up to 10 second holds, doing 10 reps.
Rest for 8 - 10 seconds
Do this 3-4 times a day to build back your muscle control.

9Sitting Pelvic Tilts

Starting position
Finishing position then relax back to starting position

Sitting tall, position your feet to feel balanced.
Roll your pelvis forward to straighten your spine.
Use your abdominal muscles to move you.
Feel your lower and upper abdominals working.
Feel the lengthening of your mid and lower back.
Slowly release and control the movement back to the start position.
Repeat 4-5 times with a short rest between each rep.

10Sitting Resisted Rotations

Starting position
Change sides and repeat

Sit tall on a chair.
Place your opposite hand on the inside of your knee.
Focus first on lifting and holding your pelvic floor muscles up.
Draw in your lower abdominal muscles and hold.
Apply pressure to your inside knee as you turn your body.
Start with light pressure. Make sure that your pelvic floor and abdominals hold.
Hold for 2-3 seconds and relax. Repeat to the other side.
Build up to 10 repetitions each side as your pelvic floor and abdominal holds improve.
Resistance can be increased also, when your pelvic floor is holding well.