If you see a new mother out and about, chances are that she’ll have a slump to her shoulders. But don’t assume that it’s just those sleepless nights that are leaving her too drained to stand up straight.
Childbirth can leave your pelvis out of whack and abdominal muscles weakened, not to mention that bending over to pick up a baby doesn’t exactly do good things for posture, either. This is where postpartum stretches and exercises come in.
“Good posture is a struggle for most new moms,” says Aaptiv trainer Jaime McFaden. “During your baby’s whole first year of life or so, most of what you’re doing is bending over—the constant breastfeeding, leaning over the changing table, picking up baby.” The result? Mom posture, a stance where your shoulders are rounded forward and your pelvis is tilted forward. This leaves you with an arched back and butt sticking out.
It’s not just an aesthetic problem. Standing with this posture can create imbalances “and can lead to other aches and pains throughout the body,” says McFaden.
Just because this stature is so common among postpartum mothers that it has a nickname doesn’t mean that you have to accept it as your new normal. McFaden advises strengthening your back muscles and using postpartum stretches to open your chest to counteract the slump.
Postpartum Stretches for Postures
Try these six postpartum stretches and bodyweight exercises (which are also great for anyone who sits a lot during the day, baby or no baby) to get rid of your mom posture. You’ll be standing taller before you know it.
Standing Chest Opener
Stand with arms extended at sides, then bring them behind your body and interlace fingers. Gently pull your arms away from your body until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
Door Frame Stretch
Stand in the middle of a doorway with arms raised at shoulder height at sides, elbows bent 90 degrees. Press forearms against the sides of the doorway and hold for 30 seconds.
Roller Reclining Stretch
Sit on one end of a long foam roller and lie back until your body is resting on the roller from head to hips. Extend arms out to sides and rest them on the floor. Hold for a few minutes to let your chest unwind.
Lie facedown with arms extended overhead on the floor. Lift your legs, arms, and head off the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, lower, and repeat.
Start on all fours. Slowly raise left leg behind you and extend the right arm in front of you until both are parallel to the floor. Bend left knee and right elbow and bring them to touch your torso, then extend both again. Return to start, then repeat on opposite side. Continue, alternating sides.
Lie faceup with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise hips until your body forms a straight line from knees down to shoulders. Hold for a second then slowly lower to start. Repeat for ten to 15 reps.
For more stretching or yoga workouts, check out the Aaptiv app.