You arrive home with this tiny being in your arms. You’re adjusting to a new life of mamahood, feeding, and diaper changes.
And you’re rediscovering a body that has been very busy creating a human for the last nine months.
Finding a postpartum workout plan that fits into your life can be more than a little challenging.
There are several barriers that get in the way of physical activity when you’re a new mama—from fatigue to time constraints to simply finding the right activities to do.
(Having a supportive community around you can really help. That’s why Peanut exists. Join us so that we can navigate this journey together.)
While it is challenging to find the right postpartum plan, studies show that it’s worth the effort.
Postpartum exercise may have important health benefits, including improving aerobic fitness, cholesterol levels, and mental health.
But while exercise can be a welcome addition to your postpartum recovery period, nobody’s expecting you to do a triathlon right now–unless that’s what you’re into.
The best postpartum workout plans are ones that fit your life and make you feel good.
So let’s dive in. When can you start, and what is the best exercise to do?
In this article 📝
- How soon postpartum can you workout?
- Beginner postpartum workout plan
- What is the best exercise to do after having a baby?
How soon postpartum can you workout?
You’re starting to feel ready to work out, but you want to do things safely.
How soon is too soon? Is 4 weeks postpartum too early to workout? Five? Six?
It’s likely you won’t have to wait as long as you might think.
Because no two birth experiences are alike, no two postpartum workout plans are alike.
Whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a c-section will have a bearing on how soon you can start your workout process.
The most important thing to remember is that your postpartum journey is yours alone.
You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone. You do postpartum you.
If you’ve given birth vaginally with no complications, you should be able to start with some low-intensity exercise ‒ like a gentle walk ‒ as soon as a few days after the birth of your baby.
More high-intensity workouts like weight lifting and running may have to be on hold until your postnatal check-up, which typically happens around the six-week mark.
If you’ve had a cesarean or other complications while giving birth, it’s worth checking in with your doctor before you get going with your exercise plan.
Avoid lifting weights and any movements that put pressure on your c-section scar.
High-intensity workouts will probably have to wait until your baby is about four months old.
So how do you get started? Let’s take a look.
Beginner postpartum workout plan
It’s a good idea to get going with some pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel ready to do so.
Your pelvic floor (the area between your tailbone and your pubic bone) has been through quite the adventure and needs a little TLC.
You can start with these the day after you give birth.
The best part is you can perform these strengthening exercises totally on the sly from just about anywhere.
Gently squeeze your pelvic floor muscles like you are trying to hold your pee in. Hold for ten seconds or so and release. Repeat about ten times a few times a day.
And the benefits are tremendous. From decreasing inflammation, getting the blood flowing, and helping to stave off urinary incontinence, those little flexes go a long way.
Another helpful exercise that you can get going with as soon as you feel ready is called abdominal bracing.
From your chosen position (sitting, standing, lying on your back, lying on your side, on all fours), inhale as you pull your belly button towards your spine and a little up. Hold for ten seconds and then release as you exhale. Repeat this about ten times a few times a day.
And when you’re ready to move a bit more, here is how to do so with care.
What is the best exercise to do after having a baby?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends getting about 150 minutes of exercise through the week.
How you break this up is up to you—three ten-minute walks five days a week is one option. Five 30 minute workouts is another.
Moderate-intensity workouts are best at this point. That means you’re moving enough to raise your heart rate and sweat a bit, but not overexerting yourself.
Here are some options:
- Walking. This simple action can go a long way when it comes to your postpartum recovery. Not only does walking get you moving, but it also gets out of the house for a bit. It can decrease your chance of blood clots and seriously contribute to your mental wellness. Start out slowly. Just a ten-minute walk around the block can go a long way. If walking is your primary source of exercise in the postpartum period, try to work towards 30 minutes of walking, five times a week.
- Running, maybe. Until quite recently, information on returning to running after giving birth has been pretty hard to come by. Recently, this set of guidelines has outlined recommendations of how to do this safely. To honor the experience your pelvic area has been through and prevent injury, it’s best to wait at least 12 weeks before resuming a running program. It’s a good idea to start out slow—walking can be a great gateway activity—and listen to your body.
- Yoga. Yoga is a wonderful way to integrate body and mind in your postpartum recovery. Recent studies suggest that it may have a significant impact on postpartum depression and is worth exploring as a complementary treatment. It’s a good idea to wait about six weeks before getting back into your regular practice. If you have access to a trained teacher, it’s always best to start your practice under their guidance. Start with gentle breathing and stretching. Child’s pose and bridge pose are great ways to get started.
- Cycling, maybe. If you’re itching to get back on your bike, it’s best to wait until you’ve been given the all-clear by your doctor at your postpartum checkup. And again, starting slow is key here, particularly if you’ve had a c-section. If you have access to a stationary bike, this might be a good place to test out your readiness. If you experience any dizziness, pain, or bleeding, stop.
- Swimming. Getting in the pool can be an ideal way to relieve stress and get some low-impact exercise in. The general guideline is to wait until bleeding has stopped, which is typically about four to six weeks. If you have had a c-section, it’s a good idea to wait until your incision has closed completely. As with all exercise, start slow and build up to 150 minutes a week.
Of course, you can mix and match as needed. Move in a way that makes you happy.
Above all, be gentle with yourself. Your body has accomplished a lot. Be kind to it.
More on postpartum life:
10 Postpartum Exercise Tips for New Mamas
11 Postpartum Sex Tips From Real Moms
Postpartum Bleeding: What’s Normal and What’s Not
Your Guide to Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms
How to Deal With Postpartum Gas
10 Ideas for a Nutritious Postpartum Diet
A Guide to the Best Types of Postpartum Massage
An Intro to Postpartum Yoga
What are the Possible Postpartum Complications?
Postpartum Hemorrhoids: What You Need to Know
What’s Causing My Postpartum Headache?
25 Postpartum Essentials to Know About
What to Do About a Postpartum Rash
What are the Best Postpartum Pads?
What is a Birthing Ball? And How Do You Use One?
What Are Metabolic Workouts for Women?