If you exercised through your pregnancy and you had a straightforward birth, you can safely do light exercise within days of giving birth as long as you feel ready. Start doing your pelvic floor exercises and choose a gentle exercise programme to begin with. It’s fine to exercise while you are getting breastfeeding going.
How soon can I start exercising after having my baby?
A lot will depend on how active you were during your pregnancy, and what type of labour and birth you had.
If you did regular exercise right through your pregnancy, and your baby’s birth went smoothly, you can carry on with light exercise, such as walking and stretching, as soon after the birth as you feel ready.
Be guided by how you feel and your energy levels. A mum who’s recovering from an assisted birth, or c-section, will feel different from a mum who’s had a straightforward vaginal birth.
When do I need to be careful about exercising?
Most new mums can take plenty of gentle exercise as soon after the birth as they feel ready, but you may need to be more cautious if you:
- didn’t exercise regularly before or during pregnancy
- had an assisted birth
- experienced complications in labour
- had a caesarean section
- If you had back pain or pelvic pain when you were pregnant, talk to your doctor, or ask to see a physiotherapist, before you exercise. Check with your doctor too if you were anaemic during your pregnancy or you’re on medication for high blood pressure.
- If you had a caesarean, think of the first six weeks or so as time for your body to heal. You’re unlikely to feel ready for exercise, other than pelvic floor exercises and gentle walking, for those first six weeks. Ask your personal doctor for advice, or ask your doctor at your postnatal check, at between six weeks and eight weeks if it’s ok to take up exercise again.
Don’t go swimming until you’ve had seven days without any postnatal bleeding or discharge (lochia).
If you had a caesarean, it’s best to wait until after your postnatal check at six to eight weeks before venturing to the swimming pool. If you’re unsure, your health visitor will be able to tell you when it’s safe for you to start swimming.
Be careful about doing lots of tummy muscle work or sit-ups. They can make a weak pelvic floor worse if you already have stress incontinence. Another reason to be cautious is that your abdominal muscles stretched a lot during pregnancy, so they’ll need time to strengthen before you try high-impact exercises.
How can I lose weight after having a baby?
Eating a healthy balanced diet and taking regular exercise gives you the best chance of returning to a healthy weight after having a baby.
This way, your baby weight will fall off gradually and safely. A safe amount to lose each week is between 0.5kg and 1kg (1lb to 2lb). The important thing is to get into good habits that you enjoy, and that you can keep up.
You’ll find it easier to stay in the habit of eating healthily and exercising if you pick activities you can do with other mums or friends. This will give you a support network to help keep you motivated.
Your body needs time to recover from labour and birth. So take it steadily, and don’t worry if the weight doesn’t fall off as quickly as you’d like. It took nine months for your body to grow your baby, so allow at least that amount of time to help your body recover.