Starting an exercise program after delivery has many benefits for the mom such as boosting energy and fighting postpartum depression. However, it’s important to be cautious when starting an exercise program. During pregnancy and after birth, the body goes through so many changes. Therefore, it is important to ease gently into any exercise program.  

Vaginal Delivery

For moms who have had a vaginal birth, getting back to exercise could be done almost immediately as long as you’ve had your postnatal check. Get a go ahead from your doctor then ease into any exercise routine so as to avoid too much strain on the abs and pelvic floor muscles.This way you can avoid injury and reduce the time for recovery.

The Don’ts

  • Avoid swimming until the bleeding (lochia) stops for seven days for very obvious reasons.
  • Avoid running as this puts pressure on the pelvic floor.
  • Do not do any exercise that involves jumping.
  • Sprinting is a no-no.
  • High impact aerobics is also off the table.
  • Any sport can be detrimental in the long run.
  • Sits ups, crunches can cause a further split of abdominal muscles leading to diastasis recti problems.
  • Heavy weight lifting.
  • Planks put stress on the lower back so keep off those.
Avoid planks

These high impact exercise put pressure on the pelvic organs and could lead to pelvic organs prolapse. Pelvic organs prolapse indicators include; pressure in your vagina, bulge or swell in your vagina and trouble emptying your bladder or bowels.

Cesarean section delivery

Moms that have gone through c-section delivery need a longer time to recover as this is treated as a major surgery. Wait for at least six weeks before easing into an exercise routine. Additionally, be sure to get a thumbs up from your doctor to start exercise immediately postpartum.

In addition to the don’ts from the vaginal birth:

  • Don’t get too vigorous too soon.
  • Avoid holding the abs in tight as this creates pressure in the ribcage and pelvic floor.
  • Avoid being on your feet for too long so as to rest the pelvic floor and core.
  • Double leg raises and leg tucks could put pressure on your scar.

Remember that during pregnancy and up to one year after, the hormone relaxin will remain in the body. This hormone increases your joint laxity and causes joint instability. Considering this, the goal of an exercise program immediately after deliver should be to strengthen your joints, connective tissues and muscles.

What to do safely

  • Light weight training
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Pilates  
  • Light stretches for the neck, shoulders, and legs
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Body exercises including glute bridge, clamp shell, side plank, pelvic tilt, wall sit, and squats
  • Light yoga
Light stretches for your glutes and lower back

Pelvic floor exercises can be done almost immediately after delivery. Squeeze and lift your muscles as if trying to stop a wee, hold for 8-10 seconds or as long as you can, then release. You can start with 10 squeezes and work your way up from there. Remember to take deep breaths and don’t squeeze your butt.


Exercise goals after delivery should focus on getting stronger, healthier, preventing pain, gaining core strength, stability, and more energy. Do not worry about getting back to pre-pregnancy fitness level. Just focus on healing so that you can be able to continue with the workouts you enjoy without injuries at a later time.

A sports, exercise and wellness consultant. Check out her Instagram @muenikimani

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