When Can I Start Exercising After Giving Birth?
Every woman’s journey through trying to conceive, pregnancy and giving birth will be different! While regular exercise is an important part of being healthy, if you're a new mother, you may need to take into account the experience your body has been through during pregnancy and birth as you plan your return to exercise.
Once you have clearance from your healthcare provider to start exercising, you should take a gradual, progressive approach to rebuild your strength and fitness and ensure you return to exercise safely.
Tips for getting started with exercise after giving birth
New mothers can experience a number of challenges that may make it hard to begin exercising again.
Whether you struggle to find time to exercise or you don’t know where to start, getting the right guidance and support can help you to rebuild your fitness with confidence.
Work with your healthcare team to determine when to start
When - and how - you can return to exercise depends on a range of factors including whether you had a cesarean birth or vaginal delivery, or any complications that may have arisen during your pregnancy or birth.
Your healthcare provider will clear you to return to exercise, but when this happens might differ from woman to woman.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that for women who had a healthy pregnancy and normal vaginal delivery, it's usually safe to begin exercising a few days after you give birth.
However, it's important to remember that if your birth wasn't straightforward, it will take your body longer to heal (after all, a caesarean is a major operation!) so be patient as you wait for your doctor to give you the all-clear.
Your pregnancy and birth can impact when you can start exercising again, and what exercises you should start off with as you begin a gradual return to fitness.
Take it slowly
When you first start to exercise post-pregnancy, you may find that your body feels very different than it did before pregnancy.
Start with kegel exercises and short walks — even 10 minutes of walking is a great way to start out!
Listen carefully to your body and only increase the volume and duration as you start to feel physically fitter and stronger.
Follow a progressive program
If you don’t know where to start with rebuilding your fitness after giving birth, try following a program designed for postpartum women that will give you the guidance that you need.
There are two post-pregnancy programs available in the Sweat app and both take a gradual approach to help strengthen your body, focusing on the common concerns women face after pregnancy.
Be kind to yourself
As a new mum, you are going through a lot of change! During this time, you may feel a range of physical changes and fluctuating emotions, and this is normal. Remember that your body has just done an incredible thing!
Give yourself time to adjust to the changes you've been through and make time for self-care - this could be a few minutes of stretching or relaxing with a cup of tea!
Being mindful of your body will help you to ease back into fitness at a pace that is best for you at this time.
Exercise doesn’t need to be long
Let’s face it, you’re probably sleep-deprived and struggling to find the time to wash your hair, let alone schedule a workout.
Even if you only have 10 minutes spare to exercise, that’s okay! Just 10 minutes of walking, stretching or strengthening can still make a difference to how you feel.
Kayla’s Post-Pregnancy program includes 10-minute postural workouts that focus on common problem areas post-pregnancy, including lower back, hip strength and upper body strength.
Becoming a mother is a significant change in your life! Many new mothers find that joining a mother’s group with other women who gave birth at a similar time can help provide support and connection to you and your baby.
The Sweat Community is another fantastic place to meet other women who might be juggling exercise with early parenthood. Connect with women around the world on the Sweat Forum or via social media.
Which post-pregnancy program should I do?
There are two post-pregnancy programs in the Sweat app. Once you’ve been cleared to exercise by your healthcare professional, you can follow the program that best suits you and work out from the comfort of your own home and with minimal equipment.
Post-Pregnancy with Kayla Itsines
Kayla’s Post-Pregnancy Program was designed to help women restart their fitness journey after pregnancy, and is suitable for women with Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation).
It has 16 weeks of workouts and you can choose to begin with four Foundation Weeks for women who’ve had a C-section or other complications during birth.
This flexible program contains short workouts that take 15-25 minutes, and focus on rebuilding foundational core and pelvic strength before progressing to larger, more complex movements.
There are also optional 10-minute postural workouts that you can do when you're short on time. These workouts focus on common problem areas after pregnancy, including your lower back, hip strength and upper body posture.
The circuits are lap-based, so you’ll complete each of the exercises in your own time.
PWR Post-Pregnancy with Kelsey Wells
PWR Post-Pregnancy is a program by Kelsey Wells that aims to help women improve their self-confidence and love for their body after pregnancy and birth.
There are 24 weeks of exercises, with the first eight weeks focusing on healing and restoring your body as you rebuild core strength and improve your posture. The focus then shifts to regaining muscle tone and strength. Each session is 28-minutes long, with time-based circuits.
This program is also suitable for women who’ve experienced Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation).
Either of these programs can be used as a stepping stone to starting a new exercise program! We recommend you consult your healthcare provider before increasing the intensity of your exercise after completing any post-pregnancy program.
You can start exercising again after birth to rebuild your fitness!
As a new mother, there are many demands on your time. so remember to go at your own pace and make modifications where necessary. You've just made the first step in restarting your fitness journey by selecting the right post-pregnancy program for you, so take a moment to congratulate yourself!
Sweat's post-pregnancy programs can provide you with the guidance to gradually rebuild your strength and fitness, and you can connect with other mothers and share tips, advice and motivation within the Sweat Community on our forum and on social media.
Have you returned to fitness after having a baby? Share your tips for other new mums in the comments!
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.