Postpartum exercise
Postpartum exercise can help you regain strength after pregnancy, but it’s best to take it slow

No matter how fit you were before your pregnancy, the 6-week postpartum period is difficult for any woman. Your body is still healing from childbirth and dealing with changing hormones. On top of that, there are new challenges with breastfeeding, lack of sleep, and caring for your newborn.

During this time, a mother’s physical and mental health needs attention and support. If you are a first-time mother, or if you had a C-section, you may take longer to recover after childbirth. For some women, complete recovery can take 6 months to a year, sometimes even longer.

By the end of 6 weeks postpartum, your uterus will have gone back to pre-pregnancy size. But even before this point, you can begin exercising and resume sexual activity after consulting with your doctor and if you feel comfortable with it. Many women, however, don’t feel ready until much later, and that is completely normal.

What are the benefits of postpartum exercise?

Postpartum exercise can help:

  • Strengthen and tone abdominal muscles 
  • Boost your energy
  • Improve mood and sleep 
  • Relieve stress
  • Help you lose extra weight gained during pregnancy

What are the best postpartum exercises?

During the postpartum period, your main goal should be to get your body moving, eat healthy, and improve your overall health. And while exercise is both safe and healthy in most cases, before starting any postpartum workout, it’s best to talk to your doctor first. 

Even if you were consistently exercising before and during your pregnancy, don’t overexert your body right after childbirth. Start with light exercises that you feel comfortable with for 15 to 30 minutes a day and gradually build up. 

If you have had a healthy pregnancy and postpartum period, you can safely begin with 1-2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, unless otherwise advised by your doctor. 

Here are 9 good postpartum exercises to try:

  1. Walking: Around 30 minutes a day of brisk walking can do wonders for your mood and give you much-needed me time.
  2. Jogging and running: A 30 minute jog with good footwear can help boost your body’s metabolism.
  3. Swimming: Few exercises come close to swimming when it comes to fitness and weight loss. Swimming is especially great if you have knee pain or back pain due to weight gain and cannot walk or run.
  4. Pilates: Exercises that strengthen the core and lower back are especially important during and after pregnancy. Pilates may be especially helpful for those who had cesarean delivery, although you should consult your doctor before trying.
  5. Yoga: Yoga improves flexibility, aids in weight loss, and also helps beat the postpartum blues.
  6. Squats: Squats strengthen the core and buttock muscles. Keep in mind that these need to be done using the correct form, though, or you could end up with knee pain.
  7. Strength training (with weights): Strength training should be done under supervision, since your abdominal muscles and ligaments are often weak after delivery, and you don’t want to risk uterine prolapse.
  8. Low-impact aerobic exercises: Using the stationary bike, elliptical machine, and stair-climber machine at the gym can help you get moving without too much strain on your body.
  9. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels): Kegels help tighten the pelvic floor muscles by flexing them for 10 seconds at a time. This can be repeated throughout the day. If you are up to it, you can do Kegel exercises the day after childbirth for up to 30 minutes a day. 

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Medically Reviewed on 6/22/2021
References
https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-after-pregnancy

https://www.nct.org.uk/life-parent/your-body-after-birth/postnatal-exercise-how-soon-can-i-start-again-after-baby

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/postnatal-exercise-sample-workout

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3279173/

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/260187-overview