Returning to Your Prepregnancy Shape

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Harvard Medical School
Chrome 2001
Chrome 2001
Returning to Your Prepregnancy Shape
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Returning to Your Prepregnancy Shape

Exercise And Pregnancy
Returning to Your Prepregnancy Shape
Returning to Your Prepregnancy Shape
Find out how to get your body back after delivering your baby.
InteliHealth Medical Content

Like most new mothers, you're probably anxious to have your body return to its prepregnancy size and shape. A program of moderate exercise and sensible eating can help speed the process along.

Eat well. Discipline yourself and stick to healthful foods. Remember that fiber will help regulate your postpregnancy system and prevent constipation. Good nutrition will be key to regaining your strength and endurance during this transitional period. If you are nursing, you will need to consume extra calories and drink plenty of fluids daily.

Stick with a daily exercise routine. This can be as simple as a brisk walk outdoors or bending and toning exercises approved by your physician. The important thing is to take some action to get yourself physically fit.

Postpartum exercises

Below are just a few of the many good exercises you can do to regain your shape after giving birth. As with any exercise program, seek your doctor's approval before beginning these exercises. It is important to start an exercise program slowly and to wait at least a few weeks following delivery. Your actual start date may depend on the type of delivery you have; therefore, it is important to check with your obstetrical provider first.

Start-up stretch

To loosen up arms, shoulders and lower back. Stand with feet slightly apart and knees bent. Placing your hands on your upper thighs, turn your right shoulder toward your left shoulder. Repeat with left shoulder. Repeat 10 times on each side.

Abdominal curls

To strengthen your abdomen and lower back. Lie on your back on floor. Cross arms over your ribs. Curl your body slowly upward, raising shoulders just off floor. Slowly return to starting position. Repeat five times and increase as able.

Knee lifts

To stretch gluteal and hamstring muscles. Standing with feet slightly apart and arms stretched out to sides, lift right knee, pointing toe. Repeat with left leg. Next, lift knees to the side, alternating right and left. Repeat series four times.

Leg lifts

To strengthen inner and outer thighs, lower back and buttocks. Lie on your side with lower arm stretched over your head. Bend your lower leg slightly. Raise upper leg and lower it, repeating 10 times. Turn to other side and repeat.

Arm circles

To strengthen upper arms. Standing with feet apart, extend arms to sides and make small circles five times. Increase the size of circles, repeating five times. Repeat the circles, this time moving arms backward.

Calf stretches

To strengthen calf muscles for walking. Standing facing a wall, stretch arms out and place palms flat against the wall. Step toward wall with right leg, bending knee, while stretching your left leg. Hold 15 seconds, then repeat with other leg.

Kegel exercise

In order to tighten the pelvic floor in preparation for birth and following birth, tighten the muscles that stretch from your pubic bone to your tailbone. Do this by contracting the muscles or squeezing them as you do when you stop urinating. This exercise can be done in any position — sitting, standing or lying down. It can be done almost at any time and should be continued throughout your life to strengthen the muscles that support your pelvic organs and to improve your bladder control.

Hip roll

To trim hips, waist and thighs. Lie on your back with arms stretched out to sides. Bringing knees to your chest, roll to the right. Return knees to center and repeat roll, this time to left. Repeat 10 times, alternating sides.

Back strengthener

To strengthen legs, abdomen and lower back. Stand with your back against a wall. Bending knees, slide down the wall into a chair-sitting position, with thighs parallel to the floor. Pressing your lower back against the wall, hold for 20 or more seconds. With hands resting on knees, slowly slide back up the wall to your original position.


Last updated June 22, 2009

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