How soon after pregnancy can you exercise?


Great Question!

It has traditionally been assumed that postpartum women should avoid exercise until their 6-8 weeks check up with their doctor. Now I do get this, especially if there has been any complications, this is also dependent on how your energy is. Your body has gone through months of a massive change – remember that!

We now know that there is a lot we can and should do after giving birth and the benefits are vast. How soon after pregnancy can you exercise though? It’s a question I’m asked quite regularly. I understand that women can be very cautious when it comes to exercising after giving birth, but that is why I wrote and wanted to share this information, if it is to help anyone out there.

Every pregnancy is different, every birth is different, and every postnatal recovery is different. So, it’s important that we learn to listen to our bodies when it comes to postnatal exercise. Our bodies have been through drastic change in the 8-9months when pregnant, and labour may have lasted a long time (and felt like a marathon). It’s important that you wait until you feel ready to move your body, and that it is your choice.

The current guidelines are that there are gentle exercises (listed below) you can do as soon as you feel ready after birth. Even a day or 2 afterwards. It’s important to note however that someone recovering from a caesarean or complicated birth may take longer to feel ready than someone who gave birth vaginally.

Pelvic Floor Activation

It is never too early to start pelvic floor exercises, or better known as Kegals. These should combine both holds (up to 6-8 seconds) and pulses and can be performed 2-3 times per day. If you had a vaginal birth, pelvic floor exercises can help bring blood to the vagina. Helping improve healing of any tears or episiotomy scars. Remember that even if you gave birth via caesarean your pelvic floor has still carried the weight of your uterus for 9 months. So, pelvic floor exercises are important.


During pregnancy our breath can be affected as the uterus grows further up towards the diaphragm (our breathing muscle). Postnatally it’s a great time to relearn how to breathe effectively. This means taking full inhales, that travel down to the base of the lungs and expand the ribcage (rather than breathing up into the neck and shoulders). When we exhale we should feel the lungs empty fully. When we breathe, we stimulate our abdominals and pelvic floor, so it’s a great way to get some awareness of those muscles back too. It can also help with relaxation too. This is why Pilates can be so beneficial for postnatal and health in general.

Deep Core Engagement

During pregnancy the abdominal muscles stretch to make space for our growing uterus. This is where women can develop Diastasis Rectus Abdominis as our Rectus Abdominis muscles move further apart. This is a perfectly normal part of pregnancy (so don’t worry) and usually the abdominals retract back of their own accord. However, we can help stimulate these muscles as soon as we feel ready with exercises like abdominal hollowing (and our pelvic floor exercises will also help recruit them).


Walking is a great way to gently increase your cardiovascular exercise levels, get you out of the house, boost vitamin D levels, and begin to strengthen the body. It’s free, easy, you can bring your baby with you (or have some “me-time” alone) and is low impact.

How do I know if I am overdoing it?

If your postnatal bleeding gets heavier or changes colour (becomes pink or red) after activity, you could be overdoing it. You may also find you feel more exhausted, so you may need to scale things back. I know this can be frustrating, if you have been a very active person before and during your pregnancy. Your mindset and hormones will be all over the place since giving birth. The main area I say to clients is to focus on sleep. Again, make sure you listen to your body and take it one day at a time. There is no rush to get back to your pre-pregnancy fitness routines. But a little gentle movement in the first few months can help you feel ready sooner.

So, how soon after pregnancy can you exercise? You can start to exercise as soon as you feel ready to exercise after birth. It’s important to listen to your body and understand that things will feel different postnatally. Starting with some breathwork, pelvic floor activation and deep core engagement is a great start and ease yourself into movement slowly post pregnancy.

If you are looking for some more information on training plans face to face or online planning specific for you, please send me a message and let’s get you booked in for a call to discuss your recovery training plan. 

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