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When can I return to exercise after having a baby?

 Welcoming a new baby into the world is an incredible experience that can cause significant changes to your body. As a new mother eager to get back into your exercise routine, it is essential to do so safely and thoughtfully. Here’s a guide to help you navigate your postnatal fitness journey.

Understand Your Body’s Needs

Every woman’s body is unique, and recovery from childbirth is different for each individual. Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, your body needs time to heal. The initial postpartum period, known as the puerperium, lasts about six weeks, during which your body undergoes significant changes as it returns to its pre-pregnancy state.

When can I return to exercise after having a baby?

There are lots of details to consider, to answer this question correctly. Please seek individual advice, as every persons journey is completely unique

Consult Your Health Professional

Before starting any exercise regimen, it is best to consult with your obstetrician, midwife or GP, as they will assess your individual recovery from a medical point of view and give you personalised advice. You may also be assessed by a Physiotherapist at the hospital to give you further guidance. 

See below for the steps you may follow in your journey back to exercise after having a baby.

When can I start pelvic floor exercises after birth?

Generally, women with uncomplicated vaginal or c-section deliveries are able to start gentle exercises (eg. pelvic floor exercises) as soon as they feel comfortable, often within a few days postpartum. Those who had birth complications, or perineal tearing may need to wait longer. Gentle walking may be appropriate for you within the first 2-4 weeks after birth, if your recovery is going well.

When do I get clearance to return to exercise?

At around the 6 week mark, you will likely have a review with your obstetrician, midwife or GP. At this appointment, you will likely be given clearance to return to exercise. This is an assessment on your recovery from a medical point of view. Generally this appointment does not include much guidance on what to do, and how to do it.

Many new mums leave this appointment feeling excited to be allowed to exercise again, but lost on what to do next.

What exercise can I do after having a baby?

After you get clearance to return to exercise, a Physiotherapist with an interest in pre and postpartum care can assess your strength and posture, and provide a tailored exercise plan to complete at home. The focus of your exercises may be on core and pelvic floor strength, or more focussed on stretches to manage any aches and pains you’re experiencing.

You may also consider joining a Mums and Bubs Class (read more about our Mums and Bubs Classes here), or continue with a gentle exercise program at home, under the guidance of your Physiotherapist. At Aspire, we provide whatever format will work best for you and your baby. We understand it can be tricky to attend a class in person, so we’ve always got options to make return to exercise as easy for you as possible.

Tips for a Safe Return to Exercise after birth

The following tips are general advice only, and should be combined with specific advice from your care team. This may include your obstetrician, midwife, GP, Physiotherapist or Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

Gradual Progression

Start with low-intensity exercises and gradually increase the intensity and duration. Avoid high-impact activities or heavy lifting until you have regained sufficient strength and stability.

Listen to Your Body

Even with medical clearance, it’s crucial to listen to your body. You may experience fatigue, soreness, and other postpartum symptoms that can affect your ability to exercise. Start slowly and monitor closely for any signs of discomfort or pain. Remember 2 minutes of movement is still worth celebrating. Small amounts often is a great way to fit some exercise into the demanding newborn schedule.

Stay Hydrated and Nourished

Your body needs adequate hydration and nutrition as your body is working hard on recovery, especially if you are breastfeeding. Ensure you are eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water. You might be surprised how much energy it takes to sustain your postpartum body, so accept any offers from friends or family dropping off food to you.

Include Rest Days

Rest is vital for recovery. Include rest days in your exercise routine to allow your body to heal and adapt.

Monitor for Warning Signs

Be aware of any warning signs such as an increase in bleeding, pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising and consult your obstetrician, midwife or GP.

Focus on Mental Health

Exercise can improve your mood and reduce postpartum depression. However it is important to have a balanced regime that promotes both physical and mental well-being.

 

Getting back into exercise after giving birth is a journey that requires patience, listening to your body, and working closely with health professionals around you. Remember, the goal is to promote overall health and well-being. Celebrate each small step, and enjoy the process of reclaiming your physical strength and vitality.

Above all, be kind to yourself—your body has accomplished something extraordinary, and it deserves time and care to recover fully.

Are you ready to return to exercise after giving birth?

Book in to see one of our Physios at Aspire to be fully assessed. We can provide a suitable exercise plan for you to recover after birth. You can book online here.