Your Guide to Returning to Exercise Postpartum

Published by
Madeline Custer
February 8, 2024
February 9, 2024

Working out Postpartum 

Returning to exercise postpartum requires a thoughtful and gradual approach to ensure your physical and mental well-being. In this guide, we'll navigate the essential aspects of resuming your fitness routine after giving birth, emphasizing self-care, and celebrating the incredible strength of the postpartum body.

When to Start Exercising After Giving Birth 

Returning to exercise after giving birth is a personal journey, and the timeline can vary based on individual factors. You will want to consult your personal care team, start slow, and listen to your body. But most importantly, know that there is no one-size-fits-all answer and that is OK! 

Tips for reintroducing exercise postpartum

  1. Consultation with Healthcare Provider: Before embarking on any postpartum fitness journey, consult with your healthcare provider and/or pelvic floor physical therapist. They can provide insights into your specific recovery needs, considering factors like the type of delivery, any complications, and your overall health. 
  2. Start Slow with Gentle Exercises: Begin with gentle exercises that focus on rebuilding your core strength and pelvic floor. Diaphragmatic breathing, deep core work, light mobility and gentle walks are excellent starting points. As your body adapts, you can gradually incorporate low-impact activities like bodyweight workouts before adding in weights or strength training.
  3. Listen to Your Body: Your body has undergone significant changes during pregnancy and childbirth. Pay close attention to how it feels as you gradually reintroduce physical activity. Be mindful of any pain, discomfort, or signs of overexertion. If it doesn't feel right, it's okay to take a step back.
  4. Pelvic Floor and Core Rehabilitation: Pregnancy and childbirth can strain the pelvic floor muscles, no matter what kind of . Incorporating pelvic floor exercises into your routine to aid recovery. These exercises not only strengthen the pelvic floor but also contribute to overall core stability.
  5. Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Adequate hydration and proper nutrition are vital during the postpartum period, especially if you're engaging in physical activity. Ensure you're consuming a balanced diet that supports both your recovery and any breastfeeding requirements.
  6. Find a Community: The postpartum journey can feel daunting and lonely at times, but know that you are not alone! Connecting with others who are at a similar phase can be encouraging and empowering

Best Postpartum Exercises to Start With 

Safe postpartum workouts prioritize the gradual reintegration of movement, focusing on rebuilding core strength and overall fitness. Here are some safe postpartum exercises to consider in the early stages:

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing: Begin with diaphragmatic breathing exercises to reconnect with your core and initiate gentle engagement of abdominal muscles. This foundational exercise sets the stage for more complex movements.
  2. Walking: Start with low-impact exercises like walking. It's an excellent cardiovascular activity that is gentle on the joints. Begin with short walks and gradually increase the duration as you feel more comfortable.
  3. Bodyweight Exercises: Incorporate bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, and modified push-ups. Focus on maintaining proper form and engaging your core during these movements.
  4. Resistance Band Exercises: Incorporate resistance band exercises for gentle strength training. These can include leg lifts, arm exercises, and core-focused movements.
  5. Postpartum-Specific Programs: Explore postpartum-specific fitness programs, like "Postpartum Moves," that are designed with the unique needs of postpartum bodies in mind. These programs often include progressive exercises tailored to different stages of postpartum recovery

Workouts do not need to be long to be impactful, just 10-20 minutes of movement can be amazing for your recovery and overall well being. You absolutely can and WILL be able to get back to more advanced exercise after giving birth, but healing takes time. Take it day by day and do your best to prioritize rest and recovery just as much as progress. There are no timelines on healing. 

Recommended Postpartum Workout Plan: Postpartum Moves

Postpartum Moves offers a comprehensive and progressive approach to safely reintegrate daily movement and structured exercise after childbirth. Beginning with early core and pelvic floor reconnection, you'll advance through functional bodyweight movements and gradually incorporate muscle-group targeted resistance training. With proper support, you'll gain the confidence for higher intensity protocols and more challenging training programs, equipped with a strong fitness base and functional core unit. 

How is the Postpartum Moves training program different? 

Postpartum Moves was built with 3 phases that help you progress from foundational reconnection work through to a traditional strength training schedule. Although it includes 10 weeks of programming, each phase has individual check-ins that help you assess if you are ready to move on because no one journey or timeline is the same. Developed in collaboration with MOVES Expert, Dr. Lizzie Kiefer, PT, this program is designed to support you through each step of your unique journey following your specific birth and postpartum experience.

Phase 1: The first 4 weeks of the program are designed with the most gentle and foundational re-introduction to movement in mind. Early weeks will include breath & pelvic floor reconnection, gentle stretches, and mobility. Weeks 3 & 4 layer in restorative bodyweight patterns and LISS (safe for post-birth and before 6 week check-in)

Phase 2: The first jump in programming happens around week 5 (OR whenever you are ready to move past checkpoint #1) with the progression from bodyweight-only to the introduction of weights, unilateral strength, balance, and compound exercises with joint-friendly selections. Core reconnection and mobility will continue on as a foundational element of the entire program.

Phase 3: The final phase of the program (programmed weeks 8-10) establishes readiness for entry into more difficult programming with higher intensity athletic movements and optional higher impact. The goal is to help you feel comfortable and confident through these more advanced movements with proper form, core engagement, and pelvic floor functionality.

When can I start Postpartum Moves?

This program is designed for the early postpartum phase (<6mo PP), with special emphasis on the first 4 weeks being gentle enough for the earliest days (2-3 weeks PP). That said, every healing journey is different and time may not be the best indicator of readiness. If you are looking to rebuild strength, confidence, and coordination then this program is for you. 

FAQs: 

Can I workout while breastfeeding? 

Yes! Staying active while breastfeeding is generally safe and can have numerous benefits. Ensure you're well-hydrated, prioritizing proper nutrition, and choose comfortable activities. You may want to consider pumping or feeding your baby before exercising to maximize comfort.

Are there specific workouts for c-section recovery? 

The breathwork, core re-connection, mobility, and gradual progression in Postpartum Moves are all beneficial for c-section recovery. It's essential to listen to your body and progress at your own pace, which is why we've included guided check-ins at the end of each phase in the program. Additionally, we always recommend seeking individualized care with a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy specializing in Women’s Health and postpartum recovery.

Is it normal to feel pain during postpartum exercise? 

While some discomfort can be normal as your body adjusts, pain is not. If you're experiencing pain during or after exercise, it's crucial to scale back and consult with your healthcare provider. Pain is a signal that something may need attention or modification.

Is it normal to pee your pants when exercising after having a baby?  

It's common, but not normal. Leaking urine during exercise can indicate a weakened pelvic floor. Incorporating pelvic floor exercises and seeking guidance from a pelvic floor physical therapist can help address this issue.

Can I heal a diastasis recti? 

Yes, diastasis recti can be healed with targeted exercises. The Postpartum Moves program includes phases focused on core reconnection, which can contribute to healing diastasis recti. However, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or specialist for personalized guidance.

How do I balance postpartum fitness with a busy schedule? 

Finding time for fitness in a busy schedule is challenging but possible. Prioritize short, effective workouts, and consider incorporating movement into daily activities. The flexibility of the Postpartum Moves program allows you to adapt it to your schedule.

How do I join the Postpartum Moves workout plan? 

All programs, including Postpartum Moves are available exclusively with a Moves App subscription. 

Remember, every postpartum journey is unique. Listen to your body, celebrate your progress, and prioritize your well-being.

Learn More about Postpartum Moves

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