This leaflet is to be used in conjunction with advice from your Portland Hospital Physiotherapist and is intended as a guide only.

These exercises are designed to help your body regain its prepregnant state.

Physiotherapy Postnatal Exercises following vaginal delivery or caesarean section.

Day 1 onwards

Roll in and out of your bed as if you were still pregnant.

1) Deep breathing and core stability

  • Put your hands on lower ribs
  • Breathe in through your nose and feel the air fill the base of your lungs.
  • As you breathe out, draw your lower abdominals gently towards your spine.
  • Repeat 3 times.
  • Have a rest and repeat again 3 times.
  • To progress this exercise, hold your lower tummy in while you take 5 easy breaths in and out. Relax and repeat 3 times.

2) Circulation

Foot and ankle movements:

  • Move feet up and down briskly 20 times.
  • Circle the feet from the ankles in both directions 20 times.

3) Static quads

  • Pull your feet up towards you.
  • Press both knees down against the bed.
  • Hold for a count of 4 and relax.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

4) Hip and knee bending

  • Keep your foot on the mattress while you bend one knee towards you. Then straighten.
  • Repeat 5-10 times on both sides.

5) Arm stretches

  • With your knees bent. Stretch your arms above your head as you stretch out one leg.
  • Repeat 3 times on both sides.
  • Lower your hands back down to your side and press your elbows into the mattress to open out your chest.
  • Hold for 3 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

6) Pelvic floor muscles

The pelvic floor muscles line the base of the boney pelvis to support the pelvic contents. It is important to strengthen these muscles after both a vaginal delivery and a Caesarean section because they have been weakened during pregnancy.

  • Keep your buttocks and thighs relaxed.
  • Tighten up around your back passage, birth canal (vagina) and opening from the bladder (urethra). Attempt to draw these muscles up inside your pelvis while you breathe out.
  • Hold all of the openings closed for a count of 4 to 10 seconds whilst breathing gently in and out.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • Now do 10 quick contractions.

These exercises can be done in any position and should be continued throughout daily life (i.e. while feeding your baby, answering the phone, relaxing, stopping at traffic lights etc). Try and repeat them 6 times during your day.

Looking after your pelvic floor muscles

1. Avoid constipation
2. Avoid chronic coughs
3. Always brace your abdominal muscles and tighten your pelvic floor when lifting.

7) Pelvic tilt

Strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps prevent backache.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • As you exhale, tilt your pelvis so that you feel your pubic bone curl up.
  • Try to hold for a count of 3.
  • Relax and repeat 5 times.

To advance this exercise:

  • Contract the pelvic floor muscles as the pelvis curls up.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • Repeat.

8) Pelvic tilt against the wall

  • Stand with your back against the wall and your feet slightly forward.
  • Bend knees and slide down the wall.
  • As you exhale, draw in your abdominal muscles to curl up the pelvis so you feel the spine flatten against the wall.
  • Hold for 3 seconds then release the curl and stand up.
  • Repeat 3 to 10 times.

This can be done when winding your baby.

Please don’t attempt the following exercises without advice from your Physiotherapist. Wait until your six week check-up.

9) Knee rolling

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Draw in your abdominals. Inhale as you lower knees to one side. Exhale as you bring them back to midline keeping the abdominals drawn in.
  • Repeat to the other side.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times.

To advance this exercise:

  • Tilt your pelvis and slowly roll your knees half way to the ground.

10) Hip hitching

  • Lie flat on your back.
  • Bend your right knee and keep the left one straight.
  • Lengthen the left leg by stretching the heel down to the end of the bed.
  • Then still with the knee straight, draw up the pelvis to the ribs using your side abdominals.
  • Repeat 5 times on each side.

To advance this exercise:

  • Include your pelvic floor muscles when drawing your pelvis towards your chest.
  • Try this in standing. Stand with back to wall and knees bent (as in exercise 8).
  • Gently sway your hips from side to side. “Samba”.

11) The head lift

  • Lie flat with your knees bent and slightly apart with your hands by your sides.
  • Take a deep breath in. As you breathe out pull in your lower abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles.
  • Breathe in.
  • Lift your head bracing yourself on your forearms as you breathe out.
  • Lower your head slowly as you breathe in then relax.
  • Repeat 5 times.

12) Oyster

  • Lie on your side with your knees bent and your heels together.
  • Draw in your pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles to stabilise your pelvis (30% only).
  • Gently lift your upper knee and slowly lower it down again. Your pelvis must not rotate.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times each side.

13) Static oblique

  • Sit tall with the back in a neutral position, with the shoulders directly over the pelvis and the legs relaxed with the knees together.
  • Keeping the back tall slowly lift one knee up to approximately 10cms without any hip rotation. ONLY lift as high as the straight back allows. Do not let the pelvis roll backwards or twist. Do not lean back. Keep shoulders level and weight distributed evenly.
  • Gently resist with the opposite hand,feeling the deep abdominal muscles work with approximately 30% effort.
  • Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat up to 10 times each leg.

Daily routine

Try to do these exercises twice a day and progress the repetitions to ten times as you feel comfortable. They should become part of your daily routine for at least 8 to 12 weeks. The pelvic floor exercises should be continued throughout daily life.

Other postnatal services available from the Portland Hospital physiotherapy department:

  • Postnatal exercise classes.
  • Complimentary 6 week check.
  • One to one personal training.
  • Pelvic floor check up.
  • Postnatal group including baby massage.
  • Postnatal massage and reflexology.
  • Bowen Therapy

Please ask for details.


T 0207390 6553 (external)
T Extension 16553 (internal)
F 020 7390 6555