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Postnatal Exercises – a step by step guide

Mar 7, 2023   •   
Postnatal Exercises – a step by step guide

What are the best exercises to do in the early postnatal period?

Returning to exercise can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially when considering your body in its early postnatal stage. AND remembering that every woman’s postnatal journey is unique. So what are the foundational postnatal exercises you need to know?

Working with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist is key to understanding your body through pregnancy and your post-natal journey

In this article we have put together a range of exercises that you can do at different stages of your postnatal journey.

No matter what your situation, we’ve got you covered.

Top 3 Early Postnatal Exercises (First 6 weeks of motherhood):

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing

This is one of the most underrated exercises. Connection with your body through breath is so beneficial.

Lying down on your back knees bent feet flat on your mat, shoulders nice and relaxed, spine in neutral and knees lined up with your ankles. Inhale ribs expand, exhale ribs descend.

Breathing and Transverse Ab activation

  • Pelvic tilt

Lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your fleet flat on the floor. Tilt your pelvis back by flattening your lower back against the floor. Rotate the other way creating a small gap in your lower back. Keep rotating backwards and forward.

Performing a Pelvic Tilt

  • Glute Bridge Raises:

Lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, heels a few inches away from your bum. Squeeze your glutes and push through your heels to lift your hips off the floor.
Pause and squeeze your glutes at the top, then slowly lower your hips to return to the mat.

Postnatal is forever so understanding these exercises can really be beneficial to building and maintaining strength throughout motherhood.

Glute Bridge

Top 3 exercises after a C-Section:

  • Transverse Abdominis and pelvic floor Contraction

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Inhalation to prepare. On the exhale start to imagine you and trying to draw both hip bones together creating a little 5% transverse contraction and same time slight lift through your pelvic floor, this can be performed by imagining you a sucking up a blueberry through a straw or holding in a tampon.

  • Wall Sit

Find a stable wall and stand with your feet 1 to 2 feet away. Slowly lean back toward the wall, then lowering down the wall so your knees and hips are at 90-degrees.

Postnatal Exercise. Wall sit

  • Standing Cobra

Standing with feet should width apart. Hinge forward pushing your hips to the back of the room. Keeping your chin tucked, face the thumbs outwards and lift your arms and squeeze the shoulder blades together.

Postnatal Exercise. Cobra

Top 3 exercises for abdominal separation:

  • Leg Lifts

Lying down on your back knees bent feet flat on your mat, shoulders nice and relaxed, spine in neutral and knees lined up with your ankles.
Exhale and lift your leg up keeping the knee bent, inhale slowly placing the foot on the floor and changing sides.

Postnatal Exercise. Leg Lifts

  • Chair Squats

Feet should be just outside of shoulder and toes slight slightly turned out.
Your spine should be neutral, shoulders back and down, chest open and tall. Make sure you keep your heels down and planted throughout the entire move – inhale squat down onto a chair exhale pushing your feet into the ground and stand back up.

  • Bird Dog

Start on all fours in a tabletop position. Place your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Main a neutral spine. Raise opposite arm to leg. Right arm and left leg. Lengthen the back of your neck and tuck your chin into your chest to gaze down at the floor.

Postnatal Exercise. Bird Dog


If you’re looking for a circuit that will work several muscles, give this a go.

Try 12 Reps of each 2-4 Rounds: Video Demo of Home Workout

It’s essential to return to exercise safely after having a baby and doing this in a safe controlled way is crucial to your recovery. FREE Safe Return to Exercise® for New Mums Program

Emma Bunting runs Motivate Mums in Queensland, . Learn more about Emma and Book your Trial today.

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