I know that everyone is different and you should be getting cleared by your MD, but once they do clear you, what are some good exercises to do to help your body recover? Specifically to help with strengthening your abdominal muscles and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.
After you give birth, it is incredibly important to approach your recovery just as that—recovery. Your body has gone through trauma and needs to heal with time and therapy
What happened to your core?
When we are pregnant, our belly grows, and as our belly grows our abdominal wall thins to allow for enough space for the baby. This creates a weaker core and the muscles begin to drift and separate, known as Diastasis Recti (DR). Everyone has a different experience and a different degree of DR that presents after child birth.
Your pelvic floor is also affected after childbirth. It has been holding the weight of a child for ~9 months and needs to be cared for and strengthened
Rebuilding the Core
It is important to first repair the mind muscle connection with your core. This can be done by practicing 360 breathing. Locating a neutral spine, finding your pelvic floor, and making your body build back the previously natural habit of how and when to engage your core when breathing.
Next you can start to work on your deep core. Start to engage your pelvic floor with your 360 breathing. From there you'll work to engage more of your body. Think of engaging one more item as a time, starting close to your pelvic floor. So, glutes, then lower abs. At this point, all work should be done on your back with your extremities on the ground (like heel slides). Hold your core as you perform your exercises. Make sure your lower back is connected with the floor, your core is engaged, and you have no coning. If all of these aren't happening, take a break and try and later. After you have mastered this, you will start to engage legs, arms (think dead bug), and eventually be able to move off your back and into a quadruped position.
Please do plenty of research. There are a lot of great programs such as Get Mom Strong online if you wish to work on this in your own home. You can also get a referral to a Physical Therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor and DR and will build a program based on your evaluation.
This is a LONG process. Do not rush. Back pain, incontinence, and prolapsed uterus are NOT normal and typically symptoms of a weak deep core. Once your core is strong, this is when you can start to add more full body training such as running, sports, weightlifting, etc.
While I have not been pregnant I would assume exercises such a hip thrusts and RDLs (Romanian Deadlifts) would be most beneficial to strengthen your abdominal muscles as well as your pelvic floor during the postpartum. I would recommend easing into them by using light weights and a bar pad/yoga mat wrapped around the bar just so the bar itself isn't putting pressure on your hips. Take these exercises slowly and focus on your breathing, breathing out as you perform the exercise. I hope this helps.