Postpartum exercise – When to start, the benefits, what to avoid

postpartum exercise

How early can you exercise after giving birth?

Exercise has many benefits for postpartum women, it is good for new moms and their families too! 💪🏋️ As a new mom, I started exercising just two weeks after I gave birth. However, there is no specific timeline for when to start. Let yourself take time for a workout once you have recovered and according to your needs. Don’t have crazy expectations of what post-baby body and fitness should look like. I know it is not always easy when we are bombarded with photos of celebs or influencers in perfect shape just a few weeks after delivery! Accept that postpartum brings emotional changes too, which is normal. General postpartum mood swings may lead to a lack of interest in exercise, however, working out will help you improve your mood and self-confidence. Whenever you decide to start working out, be gentle to yourself and with realistic expectations. Keep in mind that every woman has her own needs and priorities, so focus on your status and avoid comparing yourself to what other women do.

If you had a straightforward birth, you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel up to it. This could include walking, gentle stretches, pelvic floor, and tummy exercises. It’s usually a good idea to wait until after your 6-week postnatal check before you start any high-impact exercise, such as aerobics or running. Before you start any high-impact exercises, cough or jump with a full bladder to see if you leak any urine. If you don’t, you’re probably ready to exercise. If you had a c-section, extensive vaginal repair, or a complicated birth, talk to your healthcare provider about when to start an exercise program.

What exercise should you avoid postpartum?

Avoid heavy lifting and vacuuming for at least six weeks. Wait at least six weeks before starting exercises like running, sit-ups, or leg lifts unless your healthcare provider says you can start earlier.

The structural and hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy don’t just disappear as soon as your baby is delivered, and overdoing it after pregnancy can result in urine or feces leakages, pelvis discomfort, joint pain, and even injury.

Can exercise affect milk production? 🤱

Exercise does not affect breast milk quantity, quality, or your baby’s growth. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle handy during your workout, and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.

Some research suggests that high-intensity exercise might cause lactic acid to accumulate in breast milk and produce a sour taste a baby might not like, but this is likely rare.

Breastfeeding burns calories, but it’s not a workout! Breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding, can make you burn hundreds of calories daily, so it may help you lose weight.

Benefits of exercise for postpartum women:

  • strengthen and tone abdominal muscles
  • boost your energy and your self-confidence
  • prevent postpartum depression
  • sleep better
  • relieve your stress & anxiety
  • get back in shape, and lose the extra weight that you may have gained during pregnancy

Always remember that you are unique! There are no specific rules on how to exercise and when. Create your fitness program based on your current physical condition, your prenatal status, and what you want to achieve.

Are you looking for advice on how to get back in shape and take care of your physical and mental health after giving birth and beyond? Don’t miss the upcoming class “What to Expect as a new Mother”.

References

De Bellefonds, C. (2018, May 29). 11 postpartum fitness tips for new moms. What to Expect. https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/postpartum/postpartum-fitness-tips/

Herbert, C., Midwife, S., & March 2021 |, T. L. |. (n.d.). When can I start to exercise after giving birth? BabyCentre UK. Retrieved September 26, 2022, from https://www.babycentre.co.uk/a196/when-can-i-start-to-exercise-after-giving-birth

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