02 Oct Safe Return to Exercise After Baby
Exercise is good, right? But how soon is too soon after giving birth?
If you had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, you can start gentle exercise (walking, stairs, breathing exercises, some abdominal exercises) almost immediately after giving birth, but clear it with a medical professional first.
Research on women who begin exercise after giving birth shows that there can be a disconnect between the pelvis and the rest of the body when trying to get back to exercise after baby. The muscles and connective tissue through the abdomen is put on stretch for several months, and are longer and softer for a period of time after giving birth, and this can lead to pain in the joints of the pelvis and pubic bone.
It would not be at all typical to experience severe pain, dizziness, weakness, vision changes, chest tightness, bleeding or leg pain—be sure to check in with your physician if experiencing any of these. Otherwise, start back at up to 30 minutes of walking each day—if you can’t do 30 minutes all in one shot, then try two 15 minute walks, or even six 5 minute walks spaced through the day. Just keep moving.
Also, get your pelvic floor moving—it would be best to be checked by a pelvic floor physiotherapist who can make sure that you are engaging properly and give you a specific exercise program to start, and teach you how to breathe on exertion. The National Academy of Sports Medicine in the U.S. recommends breath work and easy abdominal exercises with moving your legs to start.
If you’ve had a Cesarean- section, you may have to wait a bit longer to get back to the exercise game. Walking is good, and do get back to pelvic floor strengthening, but hold off at least 8 weeks for more vigorous exercises.
If you are wanting to get back to running post-partum, try the jump test first: have a full bladder, and jump up and down 20 times in a row, followed by coughing four times in a row—if you didn’t leak urine or feel any heaviness in your pelvis or vagina, you’re likely ready for that run!