Caring for Your Postpartum Body: Part 3
Return to Exercise After Baby
One thing that is not talked about enough is when and how to safely return to activities after a baby. Many people think that once they get the green light at their 6 week check up appointment, everything can go back to how it was, including your workout routine. But it is so important to gradually progress activities to prevent injuries and properly strengthen your core after delivery. Like after any major surgery, your body needs time to recover and your muscles need to relearn how to fire properly. If you just had an ACL reconstruction surgery, you would not expect to be back in the gym the next week. So why do we feel behind if we aren’t back to our normal activities a week after our baby? We want to guide you to safe return to your physical activity level. Check out our other postpartum guides here and here.
General Guidelines to Follow To Return to Exercise
- Weeks 1 and 2: Move In and Around Your Bed
- Focus on rest. When the baby is napping, try to also take a nap. After all, you are probably not getting much sleep during this time. Take care of yourself and, of course, the baby too!
- Work on breathing and gentle bed mobility.
- Week 3 and 4: Move around your house
- Spend time at home, move around when you can, but listen to your body. You are still healing and getting used to having a newborn at home.
- Continue working on your breathing throughout the day. Now also bring awareness to your deep core. Gently think about lifting the pelvic floor and drawing your two hip points together during your exhale, then let it all go during the inhale.
- Week 5 and 6: Move around your community
- Get outside! Go for walks with the baby and your partner. Remember to take breaks if you need them. Start slow with shorter outings, then build from there. Take time to allow your muscles and your body to heal!
No Two Bodies Are Alike
All recoveries are individualized, based on your birth story, your body, and your environment. Continue to spend weeks 6-12 connecting back with your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. Check out our Youtube channel for videos on breathing and core strengthening exercises. I would encourage everyone to see a pelvic PT by 6 weeks postpartum to get guidance and feedback on how well you are able to activate your deep core and pelvic floor muscles. Also if you are experiencing any leakage and/or pain, please seek a pelvic floor physical therapist to help, especially before returning to high intensity exercise!
You are probably eager to return to high intensity activities including running and jumping, but should not begin prior to 12 weeks postpartum. Just like you would if you were returning to running after ACL surgery, you should gradually increase your activity level and intensity of exercise. Starting with a 5 minute jog, then increasing a little bit at a time. If you have any bleeding, pain, or leakage, take that as a sign you need to scale back for now. This may also prompt you to see a pelvic floor PT to address these common, but not normal symptoms. Our pelvic PTs at Atlanta PT would love to help! Reach out for your complimentary consultation today.