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When Can You Resume Exercise After Giving Birth?

One of the most common questions we get from pregnant women and new mums when they're having their Mummy MOT is "when can I return to exercise after giving birth?"

It's true that exercise is important both when you're pregnant and after giving birth. The right type of movement and the frequency will depend on the individual, so it's a good idea to ask the experts. 

When considering when and how to resume exercise after giving birth, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. In this article we will look at the importance of movement for new mums and mums-to-be, the best types of exercise typically recommended when you're pregnant or postpartum and when you should get back to your normal exercise routine after giving birth.


Young woman exercising with a baby to illustrating the importance of exercise for pregnancy as well as postpartum.

Pregnancy Exercise

The best workouts when you're expecting a baby involve low-impact exercise that increases your strength and flexibility, work your core muscles and support your joints. 

For most women, these are safe and effective exercises when you're pregnant:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Aquarobics
  • Yoga (specifically pregnancy yoga)
  • Pilates
  • Strength training 
  • Stationary cycling
  • Body weight workouts (such as squats, lunges, and similar)
  • Low-impact exercises classes (or those specifically designed for pregnant women)
  • Pelvic floor exercise

Benefits of Exercise for Pregnant Women

Physical activity is important for all living creatures, as it is crucial for good physical health and mental wellbeing. As human beings, our bodies are designed to move, and lack of exercise can lead to a host of diseases and other problems. 

Being physically active improves the function of every organ in your body—including your brain—it helps to maintain a healthy body weight, strengthens bones and muscles, assists in the control of anxiety and improves symptoms of depression. 


Keeping a good routine of physical activity will support every function of your body and improve your health across the whole spectrum of wellbeing.


For pregnant women, exercise is especially important. Keeping fit while pregnant will help to maintain your overall fitness and a healthy weight. But exercising before giving birth can also provide all the following benefits:

  • Support a natural childbirth
  • Reduce the chances of needing a cesarean birth
  • Help to make giving birth easier
  • Reduce the risk of preeclampsia
  • Decrease the possibility of gestational diabetes
  • Help to lose the baby weight postpartum
  • Reduce the risk of postpartum depression

Exercise After Childbirth

After nine months carrying your new baby, it can be tempting after you give birth to rush back to the way things were previously. This is especially true if you had a good level of physical activity before and during pregnancy.


Young blonde woman running while pushing a baby in a pram shows that different types of exercise after birth will suit different women.


But it's important to ensure you give yourself a chance to properly recover. Carrying and delivering a baby are both physically and mentally demanding. You might have unresolved issues that cropped up while you were pregnant, such as lower back problems or pelvic girdle pain. 

You could also have injuries from childbirth, like tearing. Our article on How to Heal Your Scars After An Episiotomy or Tear During Childbirth provides good advice for avoiding an episiotomy or tear as well as how to deal with them after you have given birth. 


Whether you give birth naturally or by c-section, you will also almost certainly have weakness in your pelvic floor muscles postpartum.


This is true even if you were dedicated to performing your Kegels during pregnancy. 

It’s important to make sure you give yourself enough time to heal properly before rushing back to certain aspects of your earlier life—especially when it comes to postnatal exercise. 

When to Start Postpartum Exercise

Exercise after birth is important. But how soon you can exercise after having a baby depends on many factors, including what type of birth you had, your level of fitness when you were pregnant and the sort of exercise you want to do. 

According to the NHS, you can start exercising just as soon as you feel like it, but it's a good idea to take it easy at first. Great exercise for new mums includes pelvic floor and abdominal exercises, gentle stretching and walking. 

As a general guideline, it's advisable to wait until your six-week postpartum check before starting back at strenuous activity. But if you've had a cesarean, this might be as long as eight weeks.

These are just guidelines, though, and if you were physically fit before giving birth, then you could well be able to start back at high-impact activity, such as aerobics or running, earlier. Your health visitor, midwife or women's health physio can offer professional advice about whether you're ready for working out after birth. 


  Book Your Mummy MOT Now  


Running After Pregnancy

Return to running or similar activity is generally not advised until three months postnatal at the earliest. If you have any symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, this could be longer while you repair the problems with your pelvic floor muscles.  

Best Exercise After Giving Birth

Each woman is different and will have a unique experience. How quickly you can return to the fitness you had prior to getting pregnant will depend on how difficult your pregnancy and labour were and whether you suffered any complications.

Regardless of your pregnancy and delivery experience, focusing on low-impact activities and taking things gently at first are safe exercises postpartum.  


Five young women exercising with their babies shows that returning to exercise postpartum should start easy and build up slowly.


5 Best Postpartum Exercises

Visiting a women's health physiotherapist for a Mummy MOT will give you a thorough postnatal abdominal muscle assessment and pelvic floor muscle test to ensure you're ready to return to high-impact exercise, running, sport or core workouts. 

Our pick of the five best exercises after pregnancy are safe for virtually every woman.

1. Walking

As long as you're not experiencing any pain, walking is a safe, gentle way to start building up your fitness again slowly. 

It’s also a great way to get outside in the open air, which can do wonders for your mental health. New mothers find this especially beneficial, as they may be experiencing tiredness and anxiety as a result of getting less sleep. It's also helpful for tackling postnatal depression.

2. Pelvic floor muscle exercises

You can start your pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel comfortable after giving birth. 

Also known as Kegel exercises, when you perform pelvic floor training daily, it will help you to regain control of your bladder and bowel. What's more, it can also help to address any pelvic pain you're experiencing and improve symptoms of prolapse.

If you prefer to exercise in a group setting, then one of the following types of low-impact activity could be ideal for you.

3. Barre fitness

Barre combines pilates, ballet and yoga-inspired moves for a toning low-impact workout that focuses on your core. A good instructor will be able to modify any of the moves for you as a new mother.

4. Gentle yoga and pilates

Not all yoga is suitable immediately after childbirth, but the gentler types, such as yin yoga or restorative yoga are normally good options. There are also specially designed postpartum yoga and pilates classes where you can attend with your little one. 

5. Water aerobics

Before starting on any water-based exercise class, be sure to tell your instructor that you recently gave birth. Both water aerobics and water pilates are gentle enough for the postnatal period and will help build your strength back up without putting pressure on your joints.


For more information about about women's health physiotherapy or regaining your fitness after giving birth, call Magdalena on 07877 017 936 or drop PelviCare an email. Alternatively, you can book an appointment online. 

PelviCare Women's Health Physiotherapy is located in Greenwich, London, serving women across South London, East London, Essex, Kent and beyond. 


Recommended Articles:

How to Do 5 Easy Pelvic Floor Exercise

How do you Know if you Need Pelvic Floor Physio?

The Mummy MOT