When Can I Start Exercising After Birth: A Mom’s Guide to Postpartum

by Ella

The postpartum period is a crucial phase for new mothers as they recover from childbirth and adapt to their new roles as caregivers. Among the many questions that arise during this time, one common concern is when it is safe to resume exercise after giving birth. Proper postnatal exercise is not only essential for regaining pre-pregnancy fitness but also for promoting overall well-being. This article will explore the factors that influence postpartum exercise, guidelines for safe and effective workouts, and the benefits of postnatal exercise for new mothers.


1. Understanding the Postpartum Body

Before jumping back into exercise routines, it is vital to understand the changes that occur in the body during pregnancy and childbirth. The female body undergoes significant transformations to accommodate the growing baby, such as hormonal fluctuations, stretching of ligaments, and abdominal muscle separation (diastasis recti). After giving birth, the body needs time to heal and recover from these changes, making it essential to approach exercise with caution.


2. The Healing Process

The healing process after childbirth is different for every woman and can vary depending on the delivery method (vaginal birth or cesarean section). Generally, it takes approximately six weeks for the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size, and the postpartum bleeding (lochia) to subside. During this time, the body is also working to repair stretched abdominal muscles and pelvic floor tissues. As such, healthcare providers often recommend waiting for at least six weeks after a vaginal birth (or longer after a cesarean section) before starting any strenuous exercise routine.


3. Consulting Healthcare Providers

New mothers should always consult their healthcare providers before resuming exercise after childbirth. Each woman’s postpartum recovery is unique, and medical professionals can assess individual health factors, provide personalized advice, and clear any potential medical concerns. Women who experienced complications during pregnancy or delivery might require more extended rest periods or specialized exercise programs.


4. Start Slow: Gentle Exercise in the Early Weeks

In the initial postpartum phase, light exercises and movements can aid in improving blood circulation, reducing swelling, and enhancing overall well-being. Gentle activities such as walking, pelvic floor exercises (Kegels), and deep breathing can be beneficial during this time. These low-impact exercises help strengthen the core and pelvic floor without putting excessive strain on healing tissues.

5. The Pelvic Floor and Core Connection

The pelvic floor and core play a crucial role in postpartum recovery, as they are significantly affected during pregnancy and childbirth. Strengthening these muscle groups helps improve stability, prevent issues like urinary incontinence, and support the lower back. It is essential to focus on targeted exercises for the pelvic floor and core, under the guidance of a qualified fitness professional, to avoid potential complications.

6. Diastasis Recti and Exercise

Diastasis recti, a condition where the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy, is common among new mothers. Special care must be taken when exercising to avoid exacerbating this separation. It is crucial to refrain from traditional abdominal exercises like crunches and sit-ups until the condition has been properly assessed and healed. Instead, engaging in diastasis recti-specific exercises can aid in closing the gap and restoring abdominal strength.

7. Gradual Progression

As the postpartum recovery advances, and with the approval of a healthcare provider, new mothers can gradually progress to more challenging exercises. Incorporating light resistance training, stretching, and aerobic activities can help rebuild muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness. However, it is essential to listen to the body and avoid pushing too hard too soon, as overexertion can lead to setbacks in the recovery process.

8. Exercise Modifications

Every woman’s postpartum journey is different, and modifications may be necessary to accommodate individual needs. New mothers should pay attention to their bodies and make adjustments to exercises if they experience discomfort or pain. Additionally, breastfeeding mothers should be cautious about exercises that involve lying directly on the chest to prevent discomfort or pressure on the breasts.

9. Postnatal Exercise Classes

Joining postnatal exercise classes can be a great way for new mothers to engage in safe and effective workouts under the guidance of certified instructors. These classes are tailored to the specific needs of postpartum women and often incorporate exercises that address diastasis recti, pelvic floor strength, and overall fitness.

10. Benefits of Postnatal Exercise

Regular postnatal exercise offers numerous benefits for new mothers, both physical and mental. Some of these advantages include:

Improved energy levels and mood

Stress reduction and better sleep

Enhanced postural alignment and core strength

Increased cardiovascular fitness and endurance

Promotion of healthy weight loss

Bonding opportunities with other new mothers in exercise classes


Postpartum exercise can be a valuable tool for new mothers to regain physical fitness, promote overall well-being, and aid in the recovery process. However, it is crucial to approach exercise with caution, consult healthcare providers, and listen to the body’s cues throughout the postnatal journey. By starting slow, focusing on pelvic floor and core health, and gradually progressing, new mothers can safely and effectively reintroduce exercise into their lives and enjoy the numerous benefits it offers. Remember, every woman’s postpartum experience is unique, so it’s essential to prioritize individual health and well-being when embarking on a postnatal exercise routine.


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