Postpartum Recovery: When can I start exercising again after giving birth?
By Dr. Lisa Jewell
Founder of Jewell Chiropractic
Postpartum recovery is a personal experience, and each woman’s journey will be different. We’ve lost the tribal culture of raising children and sometimes feel like we have to be superwoman, doing everything we used to and more.
However, our bodies need time and space to heal and recover after childbirth. Physical activity can bring many benefits for new moms, but can also cause long-term problems if done too quickly or too soon.
Discover when it’s safe to resume exercise after childbirth and tips for postpartum fitness.
Give your body as much time as it needs to recover and heal.
I follow the “lying in philosophy,” which recommends 2 weeks in bed, 4 weeks at home, and 6 weeks total before you start any activity other than caring for yourself and baby.
There are many reasons why it’s best to wait. Your body needs time to heal after bearing the weight of a baby for 40 weeks or more. Depending on the type of delivery, your pelvic floor muscles also require healing time postpartum due to pushing efforts.
It can be tempting to start exercising too soon but this may result in long-term damage. You don’t have to push yourself to immediately start exercising again. Instead, enjoy your time as a new mother without worrying about immediately returning to exercise.
Be careful with postpartum recovery exercises during the early weeks.
During the early weeks you can start reconnecting with your core and pelvic floor through gentle breathing exercises. Remember, your body still needs ample time after delivery to heal and mend before jumping back into strenuous physical activity.
Take care that your breathing exercises do not place any pressure on those areas still healing from childbirth. Trust your instincts and back off of any exercises that feel too demanding.
Gradually return to exercise.
After the early weeks, you may feel ready for more exercise. Start slow with exercises such as walking, swimming and body weight strengthening. Check-in with your body and be careful not to overexert yourself. Take care with your breathing during any exercise and gradually increase the intensity of activity over time as your body responds well.
If high-impact exercise is what feels good for you, work back up to your normal routine gradually. It’s important to listen to your body and only push yourself while it feels comfortable.
When to consult a specialist about postpartum recovery and rehabilitation.
Exercise can help your body recover from childbirth, but only once you’ve healed. If you’re having any lasting symptoms like heaviness or bulging in the pelvic floor, low back pain that’s not getting better, or abdominal pain (especially if you’ve had a c-section), it’s time to consult a specialist about postpartum recovery and rehabilitation.
Still have questions about postpartum fitness and recovery?
Leave a comment or get in touch for more information. We also recommend two fantastic books about postpartum recovery for new mothers:
- The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother
by Amely Greeven, Heng Ou, and Marisa Belger
- The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality
by Kimberly Ann Johnson
ABOUT JEWELL CHIROPRACTIC
Jewell Chiropractic is a place to find support and build community for moms in all stages of life. We believe that our bodies can do amazing things when given the right care and routines to continue at home. Our specialties include Webster, Craniosacral, Pelvic Floor Rehab, Diastasis Recti Rehab, Active Release, and Instrument Assisted Myofascial Release in conjuncture with Chiropractic Adjustments. Book an appointment now.