The joys of being a new mom often come with an uncomfortable recovery period—something that can be remediated with postpartum stretches. Whether you experienced a natural birth or a C-section, your body needs some postpartum TLC and gentle options for pain relief.
As a new mom, you might be dealing with lower back pain, stiff abdominal muscles, and a weakened pelvic floor. Thankfully, there are postpartum stretches that can help alleviate these pains, speed up your recovery, and strengthen muscle groups.
Begin Postpartum Stretches When Ready
Every pregnancy and birthing experience is different. This also rings true for postnatal recovery. That’s why when healing after giving birth, it’s vitally important to:
- Listen to your body
- Take things slowly
- Avoid judging your recovery progress
Developing self-care practices helps alleviate pain and discomfort you might be experiencing after giving birth. These practices also strengthen your body for the busy months ahead. Gentle stretches, postpartum yoga stretches, and simple exercises are all excellent healing tools for new moms.
Benefits of Gentle Postpartum Stretches for New Moms
Stretching exercises aid in postpartum healing, improves posture, increases energy levels, and reduces stress. What’s not to love?
Other benefits of adding stretches to a postpartum care plan include:
- Improving circulation
- Relieving aches and pains
- Lowering risk of postpartum depression
- Strengthening muscles
- Reducing stress
Let’s look at some easy, gentle and effective stretches to try during the postpartum period.
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Stretches for Postpartum Back Pain
Upper and lower back pain is a very common issue for new moms. Recovering from pregnancy and childbirth often results in stiff and sore back muscles. Furthermore, constantly bending over and lifting a newborn puts further strain on a new mom’s back. Take a look at these stretches for postpartum back pain.
The Cat-Cow Pose is a gentle and easy postpartum yoga stretch to release tightness in the lower back. It’s an excellent postpartum stretch for new moms who spend hours hunched over while breastfeeding.
How To Do the Cat-Cow Pose: In your start position, situate yourself on all fours, with your hands and knees shoulder-width apart. As you inhale, drop your belly towards the floor and lift your chin and tailbone skyward, creating an arch in your back.
As you exhale, tuck your chin to your chest and round your back towards the ceiling. Continue moving slowly between these two postures for several breaths.
Child’s Pose is a postpartum back stretch recommended by care practitioners and physiotherapists for anyone with stiff back muscles, including new moms. Child’s Pose is also a popular postpartum yoga stretch for how much it relaxes the body and mind.
How to Do Child’s Pose: Begin on all fours. As you exhale, sit back on your heels and stretch your arms out in front of you, lowering your forehead to the floor. Take several deep breaths here, allowing your back muscles to relax with each exhalation. Child’s Pose is relaxing; try practicing it at the end of your stretching routine.
The Thoracic Rotation is a great postpartum stretch for new moms who spend much of their day holding and nursing their baby. It helps release tension in the mid-back, shoulders, and chest—all areas that can become extremely tight from nursing and carrying your little one around.
How To Do the Thoracic Rotation/Twist: Sit on the floor and bend your knees, feet flat on the ground. Place your right hand behind you and rest it on the floor for support.
Place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. As you inhale, lengthen your spine. As you exhale, twist towards the right, looking over your right shoulder. Hold for several breaths before repeating on the other side.
Postpartum Stretches for Shoulder and Neck Pain
Neck and shoulder pain are also common postpartum discomforts for new moms. If you spend much time hunched over while pregnant or nursing, your neck and shoulder muscles may be very tight.
Shoulder Rolls are a great way to release shoulder and neck tension. They can be done standing or sitting, making them a versatile postpartum stretch for new moms.
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How To Do Shoulder Rolls: Sit or stand with your feet hip-width apart. As you inhale, roll your shoulders up towards your ears. As you exhale, roll your shoulders back and down, drawing them away from your ears. Continue rolling your shoulders back and forth for several breaths.
Simple Neck stretches
Neck stretches are another excellent way to release postpartum tension in the shoulders and neck.
How To Do a Neck Stretch: Sit or stand with your feet hip-width apart. As you inhale, lift your chin towards the ceiling, looking up at the sky. As you exhale, tuck your chin to your chest, looking down at the floor. Repeat this stretch several times. You can also stretch side-to-side, slowly turning your head from one shoulder to the other.
Postpartum Stretches for C-Section
C-section moms will likely experience postpartum pain and discomfort in their abdominal muscles. These postpartum stretches can help to release tension in the abdominals and speed up the healing process. These stretches also help improve your core strength—not to mention your core stability.
Pelvic Tilts are a great postpartum stretch for c-section moms. They help release tension in the abdominal muscles and aid in postpartum urinary incontinence.
How To Do Pelvic Tilts: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. As you inhale, tilt your pelvis towards your ribs, flattening your back against the floor. As you exhale, tilt your pelvis away from your ribs, arching your back off the floor. Repeat this postpartum stretch several times.
Glute Bridge Pose
The Bridge Pose is another excellent postpartum stretch for c-section moms. It helps release tension in the abdominal muscles and can aid in postpartum urinary incontinence.
How To Do the Glute Bridge Pose: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your sides, palms down. As you inhale, lift your hips off the floor, extending your legs and torso towards the sky. Hold for a few breaths before lowering back down to the floor.
Don’t Forget Postpartum Hip Stretches
One of the best ways to improve your hip alignment after birth is with a kneeling hip flexor stretch.
How To Do a Hip Flexor: Simply kneel on a mat and bring one foot forward, assuming a lunge position. Keep your pelvis softly tucked as you shift your weight forward. You should feel a lengthening in the front of your hip. Hold for half a minute.
Postpartum Exercise Warning Signs
As mentioned earlier, no two bodies heal the same. After childbirth, one mom may be ready to engage in physical activity in a couple of weeks after giving birth, while another mom may need several weeks or a few months before they’re ready.
Every situation is okay and should be respected.
The best way to determine if your body is ready for regular exercise is to monitor how you feel and watch for potential warning signs. Signs to watch out for include:
- Excessive vaginal bleeding
- A fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Increased postpartum depression or anxiety symptoms
- Intense pelvic pain
- Increase in muscle pain and stiffness
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to wait a little longer before starting an exercise routine and be sure to speak with your doctor. When you try to strengthen your core muscles, don’t set yourself back through injury.
Recover From Birth with Postpartum Stretches
Consider consulting with a physiotherapist to develop a physical therapy plan that’s right for you and your recovery goals. A physiotherapist can help you identify which postpartum stretches and exercises are best for you based on your individual needs.
Relief is just a phone call away. Contact a physiotherapist today.