Have you recently given birth and already wondered…
“How can I get my pre-baby body back?”
Or maybe you were an avid gym go-er before pregnancy and are now wondering how soon after birth you can exercise.
There are many things you need to know about postpartum exercise, but the biggest thing to remember is to be realistic. Your body just went through a major transformation and it takes time to get your body back to your desired shape.
No matter what you do, it is important to consult your doctor before performing any exercise. I am not an expert in postpartum exercise, so please do your own research and contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
The Benefits of Exercising After Pregnancy
There are many benefits of postpartum exercise. If you ever feel unmotivated to workout, remember that exercising can
- Boost your energy
- Promote better sleep habits
- Relieve stress
- Possibly prevent postpartum depression
- Help you lose extra weight you may have gained during pregnancy
These benefits will make those endless nights and stressful days just a little bit easier!
Risks of Exercising too Soon Postpartum
You may feel ready to exercise but it is important to take it slow and be easy on your body.
Just like with any exercise plan, there are some risks to consider when exercising after birth.
These risks include:
- Back pain
- Leaky bladder
- Greater risk of injury due to lingering pregnancy hormones
- Pelvic floor prolapse when exercising too vigorously
Remember that you don’t need to push yourself too hard or have unrealistic body expectations – yours or anybody else’s. Your body needs to heal inside and out, and it is important to be safe, smart, and healthy.
Make sure that you check with your doctor to ensure that you’re safe for postpartum exercise before beginning any exercise routine.
When Should You Contact Your Doctor?
Exercising too vigorously or too soon after birth can have serious repercussions. Contact your doctor immediately if you:
- Experience bleeding
- Have a hard time using the bathroom
- Notice swelling or bulging in your vaginal area
- Have pain of any kind while exercising
It is extremely important to listen to your body and rest when you need to. Slow down, take a break, and stay hydrated.
Will Exercise Affect My Ability to Breastfeed?
Contrary to popular belief, your breast milk will not taste any different because of lactic acid buildup in your muscles after working out. You also won’t automatically lose your milk supply just by working out.
You do need to make sure that you are drinking plenty of water – this helps benefit you while you are working out and your baby!
If you have any worries, try to feed your baby before working out and avoid exercises that can hurt your breasts. If you do feel sore, try wearing a sports bra for extra support.
When to Start Exercising After Birth
When it comes to the question, “how soon after birth can you exercise?” there’s no right or wrong answer.
Every woman’s body, pregnancy, and birth is different, so there are many different factors to consider. However, most doctors agree that you should wait between two to six weeks before engaging in physical activity – and even longer if you had a cesarean section.
Giving birth is a major event for your body. You should always give yourself time to heal before subjecting it to any more trauma.
Postpartum Exercise After a Vaginal Birth
Going for a slow walk is a great way to exercise after a vaginal birth.
Take your baby for a walk in their new stroller or in your favorite baby-wearing apparatus. This is a great way to get some fresh air, bond with your baby, and still maintain physical activity.
As time goes on, you can speed up or take longer walks.
You can also try gentle pelvic floor exercises as long as you are not feeling any pain. Try to avoid any strenuous activity for at least 12 weeks after giving birth.
Postpartum Exercise After Cesarean
Since cesarean births are major operations, the healing time is longer than vaginal birth.
You should take at least six weeks to rest before engaging in any physical activity. However, gentle pelvic exercises should be safe right after birth.
After resting for a few weeks, try going for a gentle walk. You may still be healing but light exercise should be okay as long as you are not feeling any pain around your scar.
Avoid high-intensity workouts for at least 12 weeks after giving birth. And always consult your doctor to make sure that you are healed enough to begin exercising.
The Best Postpartum Exercise Plan
There are many fun and gentle postpartum exercises that are completely safe and healthy for new moms to participate in.
These exercises include:
- Light weight-training
- Low intensity aerobics
- Swimming (after bleeding has stopped)
Pelvic floor exercises are another great workout and simple to do. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles (the ones you use when trying to hold in pee) for at least 8-10 seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise ten times for at least three sets throughout the day.
Deep belly breathing, a.k.a abdominal contraction, is an exercise that helps tone your belly and is gentle enough to do right after giving birth. Sit up and breathe deeply, contracting your abs while inhaling. Relax them while exhaling.
Avoid high-intensity aerobic activities, heavy weights, and sit-ups for at least 12 weeks postpartum.
Getting a Flat Tummy After Delivery
If you’re looking down at your post-baby belly and wondering how you can make your tummy flat after delivery, there are a few things you can do to tone up.
- Eat healthy and do not skip meals. You need the energy!
- Stay hydrated – for yourself and for your baby.
- Breastfeed! Many studies show that breastfeeding can help aid weight loss.
- Light exercise.
No matter what you choose to do, it is important that you be realistic.
It took nine months to grow a person inside of you, and it will take some time to return to your pre-baby body. In fact, you may never truly return to that body, but you can take steps to lose the belly fat.
Take things slowly and listen to your body.
Be Patient With Postpartum Exercise
I know you’re ready to get your body back and still feel like a real person again, but you need to do it in a way that is realistic, safe, and smart.
These postpartum exercise guidelines should help you workout safely and can give you and your new baby some wonderful benefits!
The important thing though is to give yourself a little grace. You’ve just given birth to a beautiful new baby. Just because you don’t look exactly how you did a year ago doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you.
Be patient with your body after pregnancy and learn to appreciate it’s new quirks. Many of them will likely be around for a while.
Let me know in the comments your favorite way to exercise after giving birth! How long did you wait? Did you experience any pain or benefits? Drop a comment or come by the Facebook group and let us know!
Until next time!