Ready For Postpartum Exercise? Try This 5-Minute Workout

"It’s a great time just for you."
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In the heavy throes of new motherhood, exercise is likely to be the last thing on your mind. And – it must be stressed – that is absolutely okay. We’re not here for any of that “get your body back” nonsense.

But there may come a point when you start thinking about getting active, especially if a regular fitness routine was something you enjoyed before becoming a parent.

So this week, we’ve got a five-minute workout from Rosie Stockley, the women’s fitness specialist who has trained the likes of Vogue Williams, Lauren Pope and Binky Felstead during and after their pregnancies. Most recently she’s launched The Mamawell Method – a bespoke workout programme for pre- and post-natal women.

“Once you feel ready to move a bit, exercise can be so energising for new mums. There are so many benefits both for mental and physical health,” she says. “Having a new baby is very intense, tiring, consuming – exercise can give a real boost of energy, help to strengthen and bring a lot of confidence – plus it’s a great time just for you.

“The body has made a few adaptations through pregnancy and childbirth, so this needs to be respected with your exercise choice. Building up intensity gradually on the pelvic floor and abdominals is important to avoid possible setbacks down the line.”

Below, Stockley has shared a step-by-step five-minute, postpartum workout – just remember to get the thumbs up at your six-week check before doing anything strenuous.

1. Glute bridges

Rosie Stockley

Lie flat on your back with a neutral spine (don’t press your back into the mat) and place your arms by your side. Take a full inhale.

On the exhale lift your hips up to the ceiling and hold in this position for a couple of seconds before lowering. Don’t arch your back in the hip raise but focus on keeping it really straight with your glutes activated. Repeat 10 times.

2. Single leg marches

Rosie Stockley

Come into your glute bridge position, but place your hands on your hips so you have the support of your elbows on the floor.

Focusing on keeping your hips steady, lift one leg off and bring your knee towards your chest, then replace the foot gently. Repeat with the other leg then do two more before lowering your hips and repeating. Aim to keep your hips high and level whilst performing this move, and don’t hold your breath!

3. Bird dog (elbow to knee in four point kneeling)

Rosie Stockley

Use this movement in the earlier postpartum days to build up strength before taking your leg off the floor.

Start on all fours, hands under shoulder, knees under hips. Find a little activation in your abdomen and then stretch your arm and leg long while taking a full inhale. On the exhale bring the elbow towards the knee, sliding the foot in along the mat. Inhale and stretch again. Repeat this about 8 times on each side, resting in between as necessary.

4. Bird dog – unsupported

Rosie Stockley
Rosie Stockley
Rosie Stockley

The same as the previous exercise but with your leg stretched off the floor.

5. Child’s pose

Rosie Stockley

A really restorative, grounding position. Use this to stretch your upper back and shoulders and breath deeply.

If comfortable, sit with your toes together, knees wide. Alternatively, have your knees together. Stretch forward through your legs and let your arms flop over your head onto the mat. Breathe deeply to the centre of your back and belly for around 10+ breaths.

Addition: move your arms to the right and feel the left side of your body, elongating, and breathe for 10 in this position before moving gently to the other side.

6. Modified push up

Rosie Stockley

These are great to start to build up strength on the arms, shoulders and back without stressing the abdominals too much.

Get into a plank position with your knees down. Move your knees closer to your arms for more support in the torso, and further away to make it more challenging. Do 10 push ups – lowering as far as you can while still being able to complete the move 10 times. There’s not much point going all the way to the mat, but not being able to do more than one movement, so start small and build up your strength.

7. Squat

Rosie Stockley

Squats are a great full body movement. When performed quickly, they can raise your heart rate and they are good for leg strength. It’s important to start with bodyweight only before adding weights postpartum to build up the correct movement patterns, technique and strength.

Start with your legs hip width apart, sitting your hips back and bending your knees. Don’t let your knees go further forward past your toes, instead focus on the weight going backwards. Exhale as you come to standing and make sure you come all the way up and squeeze your glutes to finish the movement.

8. Thoracic rotation / thread the needle

Rosie Stockley

This is a brilliant one for new mums who are spending so much time holding and feeding the baby. The upper body (chest and back) can feel so stiff and this movement is the perfect antidote.

Come to all fours as before. Take a full inhale and reach one arm up to the ceiling – don’t worry if it doesn’t go very far, just focus on the chest opening. On the exhale, thread the arm through and come to the mat with your ear, shoulder and elbow. Stretch the other arm long above your head on the mat. Breathe into where you feel the stretch – the back, armpit, arm – it should feel wonderful! Hold as long as you want and then repeat on the other side.

Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features encouraging you to add movement into your day – because it’s not just good for the body, but the mind, too. We get it: workouts can be a bit of a slog, but there are ways you can move more without dreading it. Whether you love hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.

HuffPost UK / Rebecca Zisser