Postpartum fitness: Simple exercises for the first month

Postpartum fitness: Simple exercises for the first month

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When to start

For some women, exercise is the last thing on their mind during the first month postpartum. In fact, many obstetricians and midwives suggest waiting four to six weeks after you give birth before beginning to exercise. (And you may need even more time to recover if you've had a c-section, a bad perineal tear, or other complications.)

But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it's okay to start exercising sooner if you feel up to it. Just get your doctor's okay before you begin any postpartum physical activity and remember to take it easy at first. Here are a few simple exercises to start with.

Pelvic floor strengthener (Kegels)

If you had an episiotomy or if your perineum feels bruised or swollen, then doing Kegel exercises to tighten your pelvic floor muscles will improve circulation to the area and help avoid problems such as incontinence. These muscles tire easily, so it's best to do several contractions repeatedly throughout the day rather than in one session.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Tighten the muscles of your vagina (as if you're trying to interrupt the flow of urine when going to the bathroom).
  • Hold for a count of ten, then release. Repeat ten times. Try to work up to three or four sets about three times a day.
  • Don't tighten leg or abdominal muscles.


Push-ups are a good way to strengthen the upper body muscles needed for carrying your new baby. If you have time to do only a few exercises, make this one of them.

  • Start on all fours with your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back flat and your stomach in, gently bend your elbows and then straighten again. Breathe normally, and don't lock your elbows when you straighten them. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged. (You don't need to lower yourself all the way to the floor to benefit from this exercise.)
  • Repeat ten to 12 times. Work up to three sets.

Head and shoulder raises

This exercise helps tone your abdominal muscles, but don't be discouraged if you can't feel the muscles working. It can take weeks to recover your strength, and progress depends on how fit you were before getting pregnant.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head.
  • Take a breath and, as you exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles, flatten the small of your back against the floor, and raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Keep your core muscles tight.
  • Slowly lower and repeat the entire sequence eight to ten times.

Pelvic tilt

This is another good exercise for strengthening your abdominal muscles.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale and expand your abdomen.
  • Exhale and lift your tailbone toward your navel, keeping your hips on the floor.
  • At the top of the tilt, tighten your buttocks, then release.
  • Repeat eight to ten times.

Building up your workout

In addition to these exercises, you'll also want to do some type of cardiovascular workout, such as brisk walking. Start out with five minutes, two or three days per week, and work up to 20 minutes or more.

As you feel stronger and less sleep deprived – usually around four to six weeks postpartum – you can add sets and do more repetitions to increase the level of difficulty, or you may want to try more advanced exercises.

When to stop

If you notice your lochia becoming heavier or turning bright red, stop exercising and call your doctor. The bleeding could be a sign of a hemorrhage (though exercise doesn't make this more likely).

Watch the video: 1 Week Postpartum Update. Belly Binding, Exercise u0026 Recovery Tips (July 2022).


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