You may start the following exercises within days of the birth as long as they are pain-free and do not cause strain. Aim to do the exercises twice a day.
Lie on your back with your knees bent;
This exercise can also be done, while sitting and standing, once you have mastered it in lying.
With your head on a pillow, lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the bed:
Once you have mastered this exercise, it can be practised in any position, side-lying, sitting or standing.
Lying on side with knees bent:
Initially after having a baby your tummy muscles remain stretched and lengthened down the centre of your abdomen leaving a gap in the middle which may take some weeks to close. Before progressing with the exercises, you need to ensure that there isn’t a gap or hollow in your tummy muscles. This can be done as follows:
Increase the number of repetitions as you feel able:
If you need advice about increasing activity or to determine if you are ready to resume sporting activities, please ask your GP, or contact your Chartered Physiotherapist in Women’s Health.
The World Health Organisation Guidelines recommend that babies should be placed on their backs for sleep to reduce the risk of cot death. It is very important to follow this advice. However, it is extremely important that babies spend some time on their tummies every day.
Why should babies have tummy time?
Babies should be placed on their tummies from day 1, for just a few minutes three times daily initially, gradually building up the length of time. Initially, you can place your baby on your chest, facing you. This is a great way to play with your baby, and to make eye contact with him, which is one of the first steps in communication with your baby. Your baby may not like being on his tummy initially, so start slowly, but persevere! The benefits to your baby are worth the effort.
Your baby should NEVER BE LEFT ALONE while on his tummy.
Too much time on their backs can cause a delay in babies acquiring movement skills, and can also cause flattening of the side of their head. To avoid this, alternate which end of the cot you place the baby’s head at night; babies will naturally turn towards the light or coloured objects in the room which will change the area of pressure on the baby’s head.
The best piece of equipment you can invest in for your baby is a colourful mat to place on the floor, so that he can enjoy his tummy time on it while exploring his environment in your company!
It is very important to engage with your baby by using eye contact. With your baby lying on a flat surface, or on your tummy as in the image above, encourage your baby to make eye contact with you in mid-line (ie. when your baby’s nose is in line with your baby’s belly button).
Encourage your baby to follow your face from side to side and up and down, coming back to mid-line after each movement. This is the start of communication and head control.
Floor time: The floor is the best place for your baby to spend his awake time. This may be difficult if you have young toddlers, but a playpen can overcome this difficulty. Your baby needs time on the floor, completely unsupported and with as little clothes on as possible to become familiar with their bodies and their ever developing movements. Between the ages of 0 and 2, if your baby is not asleep, he should be moving. This is how he develops and begins to learn.