6 Exercises for New Mums

Getting your body back after having a baby is never easy. But it's also not as hard as you might think.What's more, many experts agree that the sooner you start, the easier it may be to: lose the extra "baby fat" tighten and tone muscles that can make it easier to care for your baby. Research also shows that a regular exercise programme started soon after giving birth is not only good for your overall health but may also help reduce the risk of postpartum depression.

To help you get started, here are six exercises that can put you on the road to success.

Keep in mind before you start, though, that every pregnancy and delivery is different. So check with your doctor before engaging in any workout program after giving birth. If you experience any heavy bleeding, excessive soreness, headaches, or other unusual symptoms during or right after exercising, stop immediately and call your doctor for advice.

Exercise #1 – Walking

It may not sound like much of an exercise, but walking is one of the easiest ways to ease into a fitness routine after giving birth. Everything from a leisurely stroll to a pumped-up power walk can do wonders for you and your body. And if you bring baby along in a front pack, you have an automatic extra "weight" that can increase the benefits.

For a variation, try walking backwards or walking in a zigzag pattern to help keep your muscles guessing. You probably should not include a baby in this activity, though, until you've mastered it and are certain of your balance.

Exercise #2 -- Deep belly breathing with abdominal contraction

This exercise is so easy you can do it an hour after giving birth. However, you'll probably have other things on your mind, and it won't hurt to wait for a more convenient time. This second set of exercises helps relax muscles. It also starts the process of strengthening and toning your abs and belly.

Here's what you do:

Sit upright and breathe deeply, drawing air from the diaphragm upward.
Contract and hold your abs/midsection tight while inhaling and relax while exhaling.
Gradually increase the amount of time you can contract and hold your abs.

Exercise #3 -- Shoulder lifts and head lifts

These two movements help strengthen back muscles. They also tone the tummy and abs and burn calories.

Here's how you do head lifts:

Lie on your back with your arms along your sides.Keeping your lower back flush to the floor, bend your knees so that the bottom of your feet touches the floor.Relax your belly as you inhale.As you exhale, slowly lift your head and neck off the floor.Inhale as you lower your head back down.When you can do 10 head lifts with ease, and shoulder lifts.

This is how to do a shoulder lift:

Assume the same position as you did for head lifts.Inhale and relax your belly.As you exhale slowly, lift your head and shoulders off the floor reaching with your arms and hands toward your bent knees. If this strains your neck, fold both hands behind your head instead.Inhale as you lower your head and shoulders back down.

Exercise #4 -- The curl up

When you can do 10 shoulder lifts, move on to the curl up. To increase the benefits you get from the shoulder and head lifts, start by assuming the same position on the floor. Now, instead of just lifting your head and shoulders, lift your torso until it's about halfway between your knees and the floor behind you. Use your arms to reach toward your knees and hold for a count of between two and five. Then slowly lower your torso. Don't forget to breathe. Exhale when you exert. Inhale when you relax.

Exercise #5 -- Kneeling pelvic tilt

Kneel down on all fours -- toes touching the floor behind you, arms straight down from the shoulder line, palms touching the floor. Your back should be relaxed and straight, not curved or arched. As you inhale, pull your buttocks forward, tilting your pelvis and rotating your pubic bone upward. Hold for a count of three and release.

Exercise #6 -- The Kegel

This classic exercise for women will help you tone and control bladder muscles and may reduce risks of incontinence associated with childbirth. This exercise involves contracting and holding the muscles that control the flow of urine. To get which muscles they are, start by doing just that. As you urinate, manipulate your muscles until the stream temporarily stops. Then release and let the urine flow. Remember what that feels like, and when you're not urinating, contract, hold and release those same muscles. The more you do and the longer you hold those muscles, the better control you will have over those leaks caused by sneezing, laughing, or picking up your baby.