All Men (and Women) Were Created Equal - Exercise during pregnancy and postpartum

A fitness program can be continued with modifications during pregnancy. After pregnancy, the new mother can gradually resume—or start—a fitness program. In both cases the physician's advice should control both the intensity of participation and the types of activities.

Expecting the Yoga Way

Expecting the Yoga Way

Clearly, the growing fetus interferes increasingly with strenuous activity. Activity of any kind may become difficult and tiring. After delivery, the problem may become one of “getting your figure back.” The Complete Book of Good Health , by Phoebe Phillips and Pamela Hatch, contains exercises that your physician may approve for pregnancy and postpartum.

During Pregnancy

1. Start by sitting on the floor with legs spread wide. Placing your hands on your knees, lean forward gently. Let your head sink forward as far as you comfortably can. Let your hands slide toward your toes, stretching down; then bounce two or three times, gently.

2. While lying flat on your back with your feet anchored under a bed or chair, extend your arms straight up. Then pull yourself up to a sitting position, moving slowly.

3. This one is designed to relieve the backaches commonly encountered in pregnancy. Lying on your back with your knees bent, your soles flat on the floor, arms resting on the floor, press the small of your back against the floor. Hold that position for a slow four-count and release. Breathe deeply. Repeat four or five times.

Postpartum Exercises

The postpartum exercises can start the day after you deliver if your physician approves. Care should be taken to avoid overexertion or strain, but on the other hand, delaying too long can make it more difficult to get back in shape.

As a separate relaxer, try the back bend. Standing erect, feet slightly apart, let your head fall forward, dragging your upper body with it. Let your hands hang free. Take a deep breath and hold it while straightening up slowly. Once back in the erect position, exhale slowly. Breathe normally. Remember that as you straighten up your lower back muscles should do the work.


Here are eleven more after-the-baby exercises for slimming. The first four can start almost immediately after delivery. Three or four days later, try Nos. 5, 6, and 7. Leave the remaining exercises until about two weeks after delivery.

1. Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat, and breathe in as deeply as you can. Let your stomach inflate. As you breathe out, draw your stomach in as far as possible. Repeat four times, three times a day.


2. Lying on your back still, with legs straight out, bend and stretch your ankles. Point your feet upward. Keeping your ankles as still as possible, wiggle your toes, then rotate your feet at the ankles. Repeat as in No. 1 above.

3. Again lying down with your legs straight, press your knees and thighs down as hard as you can. Relax between presses. Repeat as above.

4. To strengthen the pelvic muscles, lie on your back with your knees bent and slightly apart. Tighten the pelvic muscles slowly, with the pressure centering at mid-pelvis. Relax, then repeat as before.

5. While lying on your back with one leg bent, keep that leg still while trying to shorten the other leg. To “shorten,” draw that straight leg up at the hips and waist. Then stretch it down in the same way. Repeat four times once a day.

6. While lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat, tighten your stomach muscles and draw them in. Press your waist down with your hands. While keeping your lower back flat, lift your hips slightly. Repeat four times, relaxing between exercises.

7. Again lying on your back with your knees bent and arms stretched out at your sides, twist from the waist only. Swing both knees over to the left, then repeat toward the right. Your feet and shoulders should remain in position. Repeat four times, once a day.

8. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and lift your head slightly. Let your shoulders follow your head up. While raised, bend over to one side and reach down with your arm. Repeat on the other side.

9. Lying on your back, place your hands on the top part of your chest. Keeping your waist and back on the floor, raise your head and shoulders. Keep your eyes on your knees. Lower and relax.

10. Start as you do No. 9, but your hands should be at your sides. Lift your head and shoulders slightly. Bring your right arm up and over and touch the floor on the left side. All movement should come from the upper body.

11. In a final exercise, fold your arms under your head. Relax your neck muscles. Lift the right leg and bring it down. Relax and repeat with the left leg.

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