December 13, 2020
The When, How & Why of Working Out After Pregnancy

Congratulations you are a new mama! This is no easy feat and no matter how you gave birth you’ve achieved something pretty incredible. Now it’s time to honor your body by carving out time to begin the healing process. From the outset, I want to reassure new moms that there is no time limit on how long you are considered postnatal. It’s not just the first six weeks or even the six months. You are postnatal as long as your body is feeling the effects of pregnancy and childbirth. I have clients who have four years old and who I work with as postnatal clients. It’s not a competition or a race – you do you, as they say! I want to now help you navigate your postnatal recovery so you get the best results possible as soon as possible – look good, feel better!

Postnatal core exercise


You are no doubt feeling sleep deprived, physically exhausted from labor and caring for a newborn, and sore in places you didn’t even know you could be sore but the sooner you begin your recovery the speedier it will be and the better you will feel – now & later. I began my postnatal journey the day after I gave birth. I started with 10 minutes of gentle deep core breathing exercises and continued this for the next 6 weeks. (The After Birth Training Program) The muscles of your Postnatal Core that we are targeting are called your Transverse Abdominus (TVA) and Pelvic Floor Muscles (PFM). By breathing and connecting to these muscles you are sending oxygenated blood flow to them, and this blood flow begins the healing process.

Download 5 top moves for healing your Abs After Baby


When you have a new baby you are basically running a marathon every day. The best thing you can do is strengthen the right muscles that support your body during this time and release the ones that cause pain. The muscles you want to target are mentioned above, muscles of your deep core called your TVA and your PFM. During your pregnancy, the superficial layer of your abs called your Rectus or 6-pack muscles group has divided to make room for your growing belly. This separation is called Diastasis Recti. Closing the separation is the crucial first step in your recovery and this is a job for your TVA. Your TVA is like the Spanx of the abdominal muscles – cinching, lengthening & importantly pulling the two sides of the abs that separated during pregnancy closer together. It also attaches to your spine so by targeting your TVA you will be providing much-needed support for your low back. Your Pelvic Floor has taken a load of your growing baby for 9+ months and it has just experienced the trauma of childbirth – it deserves some real TLC. They are not the most exciting muscles in the world to work on but if you want to cough, sneeze, jump in your future without doing a wee, or worse, show your PFM some love asap! If you gave birth vaginally you may not feel the activation of your PFM at first but the PFM are thinking muscles if you are able to connect your mind to the action of the PFM they will engage.

TIP – Spinal mobility, stretching, and lower & upper body strengthening are also important parts of your physical recovery – but first your core!

Learn how to self-assess your Diastasis Recti to track your progress!


The best thing you can do for your body after childbirth is to be kind, don’t rush your recovery and be mindful of what you really need to do to feel good. Your deep core needs your attention asap. As mentioned above, the reactivation of your TVA and PFM will start healing the changes that occurred during your pregnancy, while also supporting your body as it experiences the challenges of being a new mama. Try and carve out 10 minutes a day to focus on your core – I promise you this will make a huge difference. It’s all about consistency. You don’t need to put on workout gear, you can sit in your PJs and do the work. With a new baby, the best compliment to your core work is walking. It’s great for you and baby to get outside, get endorphins flowing, fresh air in, and baby sleeping and all without putting too much strain on your already tired body!

Start your healing today – begin the After Birth Training Program.

This article was originally written by BodyLove Pilates founder Ali Handley for Bottles&Heels.