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Postpartum Exercise: Nurturing Your Body After Pregnancy

Nurturing your body after pregnancy
How to nurture your body after pregnancy

The journey of pregnancy is an incredible experience that brings joy and fulfillment to countless women.

However, the postpartum phase can be physically and emotionally challenging. As a new mother, it's crucial to prioritize self-care, and one aspect that should not be overlooked is postpartum exercise.

Engaging in regular physical activity after giving birth offers numerous benefits for both the body and mind.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of exercising postpartum and provide helpful tips for getting started on your fitness journey.

Restoring Core Strength and Stability:

During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor undergo significant changes to accommodate the growing baby. Postpartum exercise can help restore core strength and stability, aiding in the recovery of these areas. Gentle exercises like pelvic tilts, bridges, and gentle yoga poses can help activate and strengthen the abdominal muscles without putting excessive strain on the body. As you progress, you can gradually incorporate more challenging exercises to rebuild core strength, such as planks and modified crunches.

Enhancing Energy Levels and Combating Fatigue:

The demands of caring for a newborn can leave new mothers feeling exhausted. Surprisingly, incorporating exercise into your routine can actually boost energy levels. Physical activity increases blood circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the body, which can help alleviate fatigue. Start with low-intensity exercises, such as brisk walking or light aerobic workouts, and gradually increase the intensity as your body adapts. Always listen to your body's cues and rest when needed.

Promoting Mental Well-being:

Postpartum exercise is not just about physical benefits; it plays a crucial role in promoting mental well-being. The hormonal shifts and sleep deprivation experienced after childbirth can lead to mood swings and postpartum blues. Engaging in regular exercise triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural mood elevators, and reduces stress levels. Exercise also offers a valuable opportunity for self-care and can serve as a positive outlet for managing emotions during this transformative time.

Aiding Body Confidence:

After giving birth, many women strive to regain their pre-pregnancy weight and body shape. While the focus should be on overall health and well-being rather than achieving unrealistic beauty standards, postpartum exercise can aid in weight loss and enhance body confidence. Combining cardio exercises with strength training can help burn calories and build lean muscle mass. Remember, it's essential to approach weight loss gradually and maintain a healthy and balanced diet alongside exercise.

Social Connection and Emotional Support:

Participating in postpartum exercise classes or joining a mommy-and-me fitness group can provide invaluable social connection and emotional support. Connecting with other new mothers who are going through similar experiences can help combat feelings of isolation and provide a supportive community. Engaging in group activities, such as stroller walks or postnatal yoga sessions, can be enjoyable for both you and your baby, fostering a sense of togetherness and overall well-being.

Postpartum exercise offers a multitude of benefits for new mothers, including physical recovery, increased energy levels, improved mental well-being, and enhanced body confidence. It's important to approach postpartum exercise with patience and listen to your body's needs. Consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise routine and make modifications as necessary.

Remember, self-care is crucial during this transformative time, and nurturing your body through exercise can empower you to embrace the journey of motherhood with renewed strength and vitality.

When it comes to postpartum exercise, it's important to prioritize your body's recovery and gradually ease back into physical activity. Here are some exercises that are generally considered safe and beneficial during the postpartum period, as well as some exercises you should approach with caution or avoid altogether. However, it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise routine, as individual circumstances may vary.

Exercises You Should Do:

  1. Walking: Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be started soon after childbirth. Begin with short, leisurely walks and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time. Walking helps improve cardiovascular fitness, boosts mood, and aids in weight loss.

  2. Pelvic Floor Exercises: Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is crucial after giving birth. Perform Kegel exercises to help restore pelvic floor strength and prevent issues like urinary incontinence. Squeeze the muscles used to stop urine flow, hold for a few seconds, and release. Repeat several times throughout the day.

  3. Gentle Yoga: Postnatal yoga can help restore flexibility, improve posture, and reduce stress. Look for classes specifically designed for postpartum women or follow online videos that focus on gentle stretches, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques.

  4. Core Exercises: Start with gentle core exercises that engage the transverse abdominis, such as pelvic tilts and bridges. As you progress and regain strength, you can incorporate exercises like modified crunches and planks, but be cautious not to strain the abdominal muscles too soon.

  5. Strength Training: Incorporate light strength training exercises using resistance bands or light dumbbells to rebuild muscle tone. Focus on major muscle groups, such as the legs, arms, and back, but avoid heavy lifting initially.

Exercises to Approach with Caution:

  1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): High-intensity workouts can be challenging for the body during the postpartum period. It's advisable to wait until you have regained strength and have the approval of your healthcare provider before engaging in intense aerobic exercises like HIIT.

  2. Heavy Weightlifting: Avoid heavy weightlifting until you have fully recovered, as it places excessive strain on the joints and pelvic floor. Gradually work your way up to heavier weights over time, under the guidance of a qualified fitness professional.

Exercises to Avoid:

  1. Impactful Activities: Activities that involve sudden or intense movements, such as running, jumping, or high-impact aerobics, should be avoided in the early postpartum period. They can put strain on your healing pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.

  2. Abdominal Exercises That Bulge the Belly: Exercises like full sit-ups or crunches that cause your belly to bulge outward are not recommended as they can contribute to diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles). Focus on exercises that engage the deep core muscles without causing bulging or straining.

  3. Heavy Abdominal Exercises: Avoid heavy resistance exercises that specifically target the abdominal muscles, such as weighted Russian twists or heavy oblique exercises. These exercises can strain the healing muscles and impede recovery.

Remember, the key is to listen to your body, start slowly, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Be aware of any pain, discomfort, or excessive fatigue, and adjust your exercise routine accordingly. Every woman's postpartum journey is unique, so it's essential to seek personalized guidance from your healthcare provider or a qualified postnatal fitness professional.

If you'd like some specific 121 help and guidance, we have 2 trainers who are trained in pre & post natal exercise so if you're stuck in a rut after having a baby, we can help you get back to fitness in a safe and suitable way at our studio.

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