Pregnancy and childbirth can cause significant changes to your body. But, with the help of postpartum exercise, you can heal and recover faster and slowly regain strength in the pelvic and abdominal muscles that weaken during pregnancy.
While many women are eager to return to their routine, listening to your body and knowing when to start exercising after pregnancy can help you recover faster.
When Can You Start Exercising After Pregnancy?
There are no rules for when you can start working out postpartum. How quickly you can start exercising after pregnancy depends on how fit you were before having your baby and how the labor and delivery went.
If you had a vaginal birth without serious complications, you can begin modified pre-pregnancy workouts almost immediately. Start with short walks, then gradually increase the pace and time. Wait until your six-week checkup and talk to your doctor before heading to the gym.
A vaginal birth with extensive tearing may take two to three weeks to heal. Consult your doctor if you want to start upper-body exercises.
A C-section is a major surgery that requires at least six weeks to heal. However, most doctors suggest you start walking within 24 hours to stimulate blood flow. If you feel ready, you can start with light pelvic floor exercises. Avoid abdominal curls, lifting heavy objects, crunches and sit-ups as they can stress your stitches.
Wait at least six to eight weeks to start low-impact aerobics and exercises. Avoid high-intensity workouts for at least three months after your C-section.
What Type of Postpartum Exercises Can You Try?
Exercising after pregnancy can help you regain muscle strength, mobility and balance. It’s better to start with simple and low-impact exercises. Here are some safe exercises to try:
Walking or Running
An excellent way to start exercising postpartum is walking. Whether you’ve had a cesarean or vaginal birth, walking soon after delivery can reduce the risk of blood clots. Start by walking at least ten minutes several times throughout the day and then gradually progressing as your body adapts.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
You can strengthen your pelvic muscles with kegel or pelvic floor exercises. These include voluntarily contracting your pelvic floor muscles to stimulate blood flow to the pelvic region. Regular kegel exercises can help reduce postpartum incontinence.
Your postpartum exercise plan should focus on muscle strengthening and aerobic activity. Low-impact exercises like swimming, yoga and pilates can help strengthen the hips, legs and arms and reduce anxiety.
Signs You Aren’t Ready for Postpartum Exercise
Watch out for the following warning signs that indicate your body still isn’t ready for exercise after pregnancy:
- Vaginal pain
- Abdominal pain
- Fluid leakages, including urine and feces
- Bleeding (lochia)
- Heaviness in the pelvic region
Since no two pregnancies are the same, the time taken by your body to be ready for exercise will depend on your pregnancy and delivery circumstances. Always consult your doctor before starting postpartum exercises.