An Australian fitness expert has shared the eight exercises she recommends for new mothers who want to strengthen their core abdominals and relieve muscle pain from carrying around a newborn or breastfeeding.
Jaime Lake-O’Dea is the founder and lead trainer of Sydney Pilates studio The Spring Collective, which opened its doors to clients in September 2019.
‘Returning to exercise after having a baby can be daunting. Pilates is the perfect way to rebuild your body from the inside out giving your core the strength it needs to rebuild your body post-birth,’ Jaime told FEMAIL.
Jaime Lake-O’Dea is the founder and lead trainer of Sydney Pilates studio The Spring Collective , which opened its doors to clients in September 2019
Before starting any exercise post-birth it is important to get checked first by your GP or obstetrician to make sure you are physically ready to start.
Jaime’s postpartum Pilates workout is the perfect way to return to exercise.
‘It will work on both strengthening your muscles, as well as relieving tight and sore muscles you might have from feeding and carrying a newborn,’ she said.
‘We will focus on moving the body gently to encourage a restorative state for your body.’
Exercise 1: Leg Slides
Start by laying on your back, allowing your head to feel heavy on the mat.
Bend your legs up at your knees towards your hips and place your feet flat on the floor. Gently slide one leg along the mat until straight, and then return it. Then do the same on the other side.
As you send your legs away, stretch through the knee and squeeze through the thigh. You will feel your lower abdominals and obliques start to engage.
Complete 16 reps of this, eight on each leg.
Leg slides: Start by laying on your back, allowing your head to feel heavy on the mat
Exercise 2: Leg Circles
Stretch your body out now along the mat, creating as much space as possible between your head and toes.
Pick up your right leg, lengthen it directly above your hip, stretching as much as you can.
Take the leg across the body in a circular motion and bring it around and back up. Take the circle as wide as you would like allowing some movement in through your hip joint.
Complete six circles in one direction and then reverse back the other way.
Leg circles: Stretch your body out now along the mat, creating as much space as possible between your head and toes
Exercise 3: Book Openings
Laying on your back, bend your legs up towards your hips.
Take your hands behind your head, interlacing your fingers, cradling your head with your hands.
Gluing your knees together, roll them over to one side. Bring your elbows to join on top of each other on the same side as the legs.
Inhaling, then exhaling slowly open your top elbow out so your shoulders come to the mat and your head comes to neutral. Feel a gentle release through your low back.
Repeat the movement four times on one side, then set up on the other side.
Book openings: Take your hands behind your head, interlacing your fingers, cradling your head with your hands
Exercise 4: Toe Taps
Bend your legs up at your knees bringing your legs in to table-top (legs at right angles at the knees and hips, calves parallel to floor).
Alternatively tap one toe down on to the floor, and then return to table-top.
To make this movement more challenging, take the leg further away in the toe tap, challenging the lower abdominals more.
If you are unable to hold legs in table-top, and would like a similar exercise, slightly less intense, try working from the floor up, alternately lifting the leg from the floor to table-top, then placing back down.
Complete 10 reps on each leg.
Toe taps: Bend your legs up at your knees bringing your legs in to table-top (legs at right angles at the knees and hips, calves parallel to floor)
Exercise 5: Superman
Coming into a four point kneel, bring your knees underneath your hips and your hands underneath your shoulders.
Extend one arm long out in front of you, hand in line with the shoulder. Extend the opposite leg behind, foot in line with the hip.
Try and make as big a distance as possible between the fingers and the toes.
If you would like to make this exercise easier, slide the arms and legs along the floor, instead of lifting.
If you would like the exercise to be harder, hold the arm and leg long, and then angle them out to the side.
Complete around six reps each side.
Superman: Coming into a four point kneel, bring your knees underneath your hips and your hands underneath your shoulders
Exercise 6: Swan
Laying on your stomach, bring hands underneath the shoulders, elbows bent.
Spread the hands across the mat, pressing through the heel of the hand, extend the arms up straight, to lift the torso off the mat.
As you lift the upper body, start the movement from the upper spine and gradually grow up through the back.
Try and get as much movement as possible through the upper spine, exhaling out through the lips as you lift upwards.
Complete around five reps. When you have done, push the body up through child’s pose.
Swan: Laying on your stomach, bring hands underneath the shoulders, elbows bent
Exercise 7: Glute Burn
Bring yourself back into a four point kneel shape.
Take your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
Bending one leg up at the knee and pointing the toe up towards the sky press the toe up and down towards the sky, squeezing through the back of the leg and butt.
Press the leg up and down in a straight line towards the sky. To make this exercise harder, after you have completed the straight press up to the sky, start to angle the leg, taking it behind the other knee, then finishing with some short pulses.
Complete 15 reps on each side.
Glute burn: Take your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips
Exercise 8: The Mermaid
This stretch feels wonderful. It opens the whole side body, reaching into the shoulder and up into the hand.
Sit with the legs in a z-sit, with one leg angled to the side and the opposite foot up against the inner thigh.
Pull the ankle in towards you as you reach up and over towards the opposite knee.
Create as much space in through the rib cage as you can by breathing fully in through the nose and out through the mouth. Reverse the stretch the other way, before changing legs.
The mermaid: This stretch feels wonderful. It opens the whole side body, reaching into the shoulder and up into the hand
Complete three full reps on each side.
This workout will take around 30 minutes. All you need is a mat and some space.
Remember to sip on water throughout your workout and stop if something doesn’t feel right.