How to Begin Working Out For The First Time After Having A Newborn
Know exactly how to begin working out for the first time after having a newborn baby by following this physical therapy recommended protocol for postpartum moms.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
You just had a baby and desperately want to start working out, but you are just not quite sure if this is the right time and what exactly you should do for the first workout.
A lot has happened to your body recently. Childbirth took a toll on you, and you’re not quite feeling like you did before you got pregnant. The recovery process was not what you expected but you still want to get started with some sort of exercise as soon as possible.
A lot of women who were physically fit before pregnancy or who want to lose that baby weight fast are eager to start working out early on during postpartum recovery. In this article you’ll learn everything you need to know about postpartum workouts and how to get started the right way based off my physical therapy recommendations.
When is it safe to start working out postpartum?
I’ll just start by saying you don’t want to work out the first day after giving birth.
If that’s you who was wondering if you can start exercising while still in the hospital and lying in the delivery bed, the answer is a big NO!!
Your body needs to recover and heal. Childbirth is no joke. A lot of changes took place. Blood loss, dehydration, muscle fatigue, tearing, pain and much more. The last thing you want to do is start thinking about exercise after giving birth.
And your body needs to continue to heal for weeks upon weeks after giving birth. Your body does amazing things, like growing a baby inside your belly, but our body also has a way of healing. The healing that takes place after giving birth is a slow process and is one that is difficult to speed up.
And for that reason, doctors recommend waiting 6 weeks until beginning an exercise program.
The 6 Week Postpartum Wait
When you go to the doctor’s office for your postpartum check-up, it’s typically 6 weeks postpartum. At this appointment you will want to ask the question of whether or not you can begin working out.
If everything during your exam turns out fine, then most likely your doctor will give you the approval to work out. That’s great news, and I’m proud of you for waiting that long to get your doctor’s approval.
If you are the kind of person who doesn’t want to wait and doesn’t care about getting your doctor’s approval, I want to caution you. You might do more harm than good.
Just imagine yourself feeling great postpartum, still in that first month of recovery and you decide to get down on the floor and do your first exercise. All is going well until all of a sudden you strain and cause your episiotomy tear to re-separate. Your 3rd degree tear and episiotomy felt fine and you assumed it was completely healed but little did you know that your increase in pressure and tension during your mini squat (which you assumed would be harmless) decided to pull the last thread and disrupt your healing. Ouch!
I would never want that for anyone. This is just one example of how exercise during the first 6 weeks can not be beneficial but rather harmful.
If you were to push too hard with any exercise and cause pain, you may take longer to heal overall and may not be able to work out when you do get to 6 weeks postpartum. Like I said, I recommend letting your body rest and heal for the first 6 weeks.
If walking around your home is comfortable and easy to do then I recommend sticking with that as you exercise for the day, but don’t overdo it or push it with strenuous and vigorous walking.
Finding Time To Exercise Postpartum
So now you are approved by your doctor to work out, and it’s time to start. But how do you even find the time to work out when you are taking care of a newborn baby 24/7? You’re exhausted and you get no sleep. Your baby needs you practically every minute of every day. Is it even possible to begin a workout program when you take care of a baby?
The answer is YES! It sure is!
There are ways to find time if you decide you want to commit to exercise as being part of your lifestyle now that you are a new mom.
It is possible for both fitness and mommy life to coexist. If you make a conscious effort and a decision to do it, you can most definitely achieve your postpartum fitness goals.
First, start paying attention to your baby’s sleep habits and routine. If you notice that your baby is more playful at a certain time of the day, choose that time to do a quick 8-10 minute Mommy and Me workout beside your baby. Your baby needs tummy time anyways; just exercise alongside him.
Also, if you notice your baby is starting to sleep for longer stretches of time, I recommend you start your workout the moment you lie your baby down to sleep. You may only get a 30 minute nap break, but a mini workout is better than no workout. Make fitness a priority in your new life as a mom.
So do you prefer working out with your baby during tummy time or working out while your baby is safe in a crib napping?
Time To Start Your First Workout
So now you found the perfect time to work out, and you made a conscious decision to commit to this plan. But how do you know what to do?
There are so many exercises to choose from.
How do you know if one exercise is too much or too little?
How do you know if this is the right muscle group you should be working on this early after having a baby?
What if I pick an exercise that ends up hurting me?
What if what I’m doing isn’t enough of a workout?
These are all very common questions for new moms. Some moms are afraid to start and afraid to pick an exercise, while other moms just jump right in and end up regretting it later.
I’m a physical therapist, and my job is to teach people how to perform exercise safely and properly so that ultimately their pain is decreased and they can return to their normal daily lifestyle.
I want the same for you.
You need to recover from childbirth in a manner that is pain-free, comfortable and convenient to do.
There are specific exercises that postpartum moms need to start with in order to feel good and not feel worse. And ultimately we want to feel good after all that you went through and are still going through as a new mom.
But there is one exercise in particular that is the most important.
The first exercise you want to do after you have reached the 6 week postpartum mark is abdominal bracing. This is the beginner exercise for all core exercises. It is safe, it is highly recommended by physical therapists, and it is the basis for all core exercises to be performed properly. It’s the most important exercise to engage the transverse abdominis, the inner most abdominal muscle.
While lying on your back with knees bent, draw your belly button in and flatten your back in order to perform abdominal bracing correctly. This is a slow and controlled type of movement. It does not require you to perform a sit up in any way.
Once you can hold the abdominal bracing contraction position, your goal is to hold it for 8 seconds while keeping a steady breath.
Your goal for the first day should be 10 contractions for 8 second holds.
Restore Your Core
This is just the first exercise in a series of exercises that will restore your core back to the way it used to be before having a baby. It was a long journey for you to get to this point (9 months to be exact) and it will be a long journey to get back out of it. But that’s ok! Your baby is worth the sacrifice!
Getting a flat stomach does not happen overnight to anyone, but it is completely possible to get a flat stomach after having a baby. It takes the right exercises and the right program to do it. If you want to know how to simply and safely rehab your body back after pregnancy, you can enroll in my FREE 5 day email course Restore Your Core.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
**It is important to always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and get medical clearance. Always warm up thoroughly and stretch after all workouts. Jena Bradley LLC, LiveCoreStrong.com and Jena Bradley will be not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained while exercising at home, gym or elsewhere. Perform exercises at your own risk.
About Dr. Jena Bradley
Jena is a mom of 4 darling little girls, a physical therapist and founder of Live Core Strong, a blog focusing on motivating moms to live a life that incorporates fitness and fun throughout their motherhood journey. She aims to be the friend you always wanted to have who could guide you through the “fog” when faced with an “I don’t know what to do” mommy moment. At the most inconvenient time of her life, she embarked on a journey of sharing her story and expertise to inspire the next generation of healthy moms. You can learn more about Jena by visitng her ABOUT page.