Exercise is important at any stage of life, so it should come as no surprise that it can help with postpartum health as well.
How Exercise Helps After Delivery
Bringing a new baby home can raise the stress level in your house, no matter how many times you have done it. Regular exercise can help ease this stress. Other benefits are:
Getting Ready to Workout
Talk to your doctor about when it is okay for you to start exercising after giving birth. Women who have had a cesarean section may need to wait 6 weeks or longer to do abdominal exercises. They may still be able to do other exercise as long as they do not do too much too fast. Go slowly and listen to your body. Use how you feel and your energy level as a guide.
Pregnancy and delivery cause changes like stretched pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening these muscles can lower the risk of incontinence or even pelvic organ prolapse. Kegel exercises can make these muscles stronger by tightening and relaxing them. They can be done anytime, anywhere—even shortly after giving birth.
Follow these tips when you start working out again:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Do not exercise in hot, humid weather or if you have a fever.
- Avoid jerky, jumping, or bouncing motions, or sudden changes in direction.
- Cool down after all workouts.
- Stop exercising and call your doctor right away if you have pain, lightheadedness, rapid heartbeat, pubic or back pain, or bleeding.
Making Time for Workouts
You may be excited to get back into shape, but taking care of a newborn may make it hard to find the time. Here are some tips that will help while also improving your workouts:
- Trade babysitting time with other parents.
- Slowly increase your activity level as you are able.
- Buy a jogging stroller.
- Buy home exercise equipment.
- Find online classes you can do at home.
- Find a gym with a childcare room.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Council on Exercise
The Canadian Women's Health Network
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
ACOG Committee Opinion No. 804: Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Apr;135(4):e178-e188.
Exercise after pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-after-pregnancy. Accessed July 5, 2021.
Postpartum management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/postpartum-management. Accessed July 5, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 7/5/2021