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The lowdown on exercising postpartum

Growing and giving birth to a baby is one of the most monumental things you’ll ever do. And getting back to exercising after giving birth may feel just as monumental a challenge. No matter your birth experience, a postpartum workout is something that most people find daunting.

As you embark on exercise after giving birth, first and foremost, consider what your body has been through. While exercising after birth is crucial for your recovery and to rebuild your strength, it’s equally important to begin to introduce postpartum exercises safely. 

When should I start exercising after delivery?

Like pregnancy and birth, when you return to exercise and what exercising after birth looks like will vary for everyone. It’s best to seek your doctor’s advice on when to start working out after birth. 

Safe postpartum exercises are different depending on the type of birth you had and it’s likely that you will have heard many opinions; like to take it easy or not to lift anything heavy. Of course, listen to your body. 

We’re here to support you if you’re feeling daunted by what the best exercises post pregnancy are and if you are looking for some pelvic floor exercises after birth, we can help with those too. 

Before we get into some specifics of the best exercises post pregnancy, let’s outline some reasons for post delivery exercise: 

  • Your physical health: don’t rush to lose the pregnancy weight but getting back to exercise after delivery will help you feel your best postpartum. 
  • Your mental health: just as important as your physical health, exercise after delivery will improve your mental health – whether it’s going for a walk with another parent or the endorphin rush after a swim, exercise is essential for mental wellbeing. 
  • Your muscles: especially your abdominal region where you’ve likely lost muscle strength.
  • Your energy: as a new parent, sleep is often illusive. Exercise will improve your energy, even with minimal sleep. 

What are the best exercises to do after I’ve had a baby? 

Adjusting to motherhood can be complicated, but exercise shouldn’t have to be. Here are some simple ways to get back to exercising after birth:  

  • Walking: it’s recommended that adults do 2.5 – 5 hours a week of moderate exercise. That’s easily achievable if you go for a half an hour walk each day. 
  • Swimming: a great way to exercise after giving birth that is low intensity.
  • Yoga or Pilates: once you’re physically ready, they’re a great way to build back your core strength.  
  • Strength exercises: our physios and exercise physiologists can develop a strength building exercise routine for you. 

What about postpartum pelvic floor exercises?

Your pelvic floor muscles support your pelvis and the organs in that area; your bladder and small intestine. After pregnancy, most women experience weakness in their pelvic floor. 

While you can’t see your pelvic floor muscles, you’ve likely used them when trying to hold off going to the toilet. When you pull up the muscles in your pelvis, you are working your pelvic floor. 

Some postpartum pelvic floor exercises: 

  • Lift the muscles in your pelvic floor and then release them. Hold in between each lift for five to ten seconds. Repeat up to three times daily. 
  • Do a quicker version of the above; lift and squeeze your pelvic floor five to ten times in a row, without the hold. 

The above are some simple pelvic floor exercises you can do at home. If you would like additional support you can make an appointment with us and we’ll make a plan to help you regain your core strength. 

How can physiotherapy and exercise physiology help with postpartum exercise? 

Your body changes a lot during and after pregnancy and the exercise you used to do might no longer feel accessible. Or perhaps you are dealing with aches and pains post-delivery. If you’re feeling uncertain about what would be the best exercises to do postpartum, or if you’d like to build back some confidence we’ll take the time to understand how your body has changed since giving birth and tailor a plan accordingly.  

How do I find the time to do a post pregnancy workout?

We hear you! Doing anything other than feeding, sleeping and changing nappies might seem impossible in early parenthood. 

Here are a few ways you can fit in working out after giving birth: 

  • Exercise with your baby:
    • Get a stroller or a baby carrier that is comfortable to move with.  
    • Enroll in a mums and bubs fitness class. 
  • Join forces with another parent: make a plan; you can do postpartum exercise together or you could babysit for each other. Either way, keep each other accountable. 
  • Multitask: do your pelvic floor exercises while you are feeding or doing other things around the house – the ultimate multitask! 

If you’re feeling uncertain about post-delivery exercise or would like some advice on postpartum pelvic floor exercises, make an appointment to see one of our physios or exercise physiologists today – we’ll create an exercise routine that works for you and your new baby. 


*All information is general in nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Physionorth can consult with you to confirm if this advice is right for you.

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