Postnatal Exercise

mom and baby exercising

Level one exercises

Pelvic tilt 

pelvic tilt

To ease backache and strengthen abdominal muscles, lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the bed. Tighten your buttocks and abdominal muscles. Press the small of your back on the floor. Hold for a count of five and remember to breathe. Relax. Repeat 10 times, three times a day. 

Pelvic tilt, standing and sitting 

When you stand or sit, perform the pelvic tilt by tightening your buttocks and abdominal muscles. Press the small of your back into a wall or chair.


Support your upper back and shoulders. Sit with your hips close to the chair and your feet resting on the floor. For backache, elevate one or both feet on a footstool or large book. 

example of target posture

Pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises 

The exercises will help strengthen your pelvic floor and maintain good bladder control and sexual enjoyment. Lie on your back, knees outstretched and ankles together. Pull the muscles in your calves, thighs, buttocks and pelvic floor as if you were trying not to pass urine. Hold for a count of five. Relax. Repeat in sets of 20, four times a day while lying down or sitting. This exercise will benefit you for the rest of your life.


Stand and walk tall. Tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your “tail” tucked in.

In bed 

Avoid sleeping on your stomach for prolonged periods. When you lie on your back, bend your knees slightly. A pillow under your thighs may help. On your side, keep your bottom knee bent a little more than the top. For backache, prevent your spine from twisting by placing a small pillow in between your knees.

Bending, lifting, reaching 

When picking up any object, keep your back straight and bend your knees. Never bend over with straight knees. Lift by straightening your knees. Point your feet in the direction you are moving. Never twist while carrying an object. Hold anything you carry close to your body. When you need to lift something about shoulder height, use a stool rather than reaching. If you have had a c-section, do not lift anything heavier than the baby until you have had your postnatal check-up.

lift with your knees and not with your back

Deep breathing

This exercise is especially important for smokers and those who have had a general anaesthetic. It helps to maintain good air entry into your lungs. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands on your abdomen. Breathe deeply in through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise. Breathe out slowly through your mouth, pulling in your abdomen until flat. Relax. Repeat 10 times, three times daily until you are up and about.

lying on your back, take deep breaths

Foot and ankle exercises 

These exercises promote good circulation in your legs and help to prevent blood clots. They are important if you remain in bed, have varicose veins or a history of blood clots. Repeat each exercise 10 times, three times daily until your are up and about. Lie flat, legs straight.

Make circles with each foot, in one direction and then in the other. 

rotate your foot in circles in both directions

Bend the ankles up and down in each foot.

bend your foot up and down


Level 2 exercises

Do these exercises after your vaginal birth. Wait until after your postnatal check-up if you had a c-section. Repeat each exercise 10 times, three times daily until your abdomen is firm. Always test for bulging and pain before you begin. 

How to test for bulging and pain 

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Do a pelvic tilt, tuck your chin in and slowly curl your body up by lifting your head and shoulder. Reach for your knees with outstretched arms and hold. Slowly return to the starting position and relax. If you notice any pain or bulging in your abdomen, stop and try again tomorrow. 

Head raises 

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Do a pelvic tilt, then lift your head slowly and look at your toes. Hold for a count of 5, then slowly lower your head and relax.

head raises demonstration

Straight curl ups 

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Do a pelvic tilt. Slowly curl your body by lifting up your head and shoulders. Reach for your knees with both hands. Uncurl slowly and relax.  

curl ups demonstration

Diagonal curl ups 

Reach for the outside of your right knee with your left hand. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side. 

diagonal curl ups

Hip rotation 

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your arms out to the side at shoulder level. Keeping your shoulders flat, rotate your knees as far as possible, first to one side and then to another. Stop if you feel pain.

hip rotation demonstration

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.