Find out when to start postpartum exercise and what exercises are safe to do during your postpartum workout along with what not to do postpartum. Plus, learn how to get a flat tummy postpartum using Dr. Jena Bradley’s physical therapy inspired program, Postpartum Ab Rehab. 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

 

 

A lot of new moms are not sure when they are allowed to exercise after having a baby.

Your body has gone through a roller coaster ride over the past 9 months and finished with a big bang at the end.

You just don’t feel like your normal self, and it’s intimidating to start exercising after childbirth because you’re afraid of hurting yourself or doing something too strenuous and causing further bleeding.

You know you need to exercise to get rid of the extra baby weight, but when is the right time, the safe time to start?

In this article you will learn exactly when the right time is to start postpartum exercise. I’m a physical therapist and a mom of 4, and I want to answer all your postpartum exercise questions related to what exercises you should do during weeks 1, 2 and 3, what you should not do postpartum, how to speed up your postpartum healing and how to get a flat tummy after delivery.

How Soon Postpartum Can I Exercise?

 

I’m a stickler to following doctor’s orders. It’s my job! As a physical therapist I always do what the doctor recommends, and when it comes to postpartum workouts, the doctors recommend waiting until after the 6 week postpartum check-up before beginning an exercise program. 

There are too many unknowns during the first 6 weeks postpartum to recommend beginning a workout routine during the 6 week wait. I always recommend being on the cautious side rather than rushing into a workout before your body is ready. 

Getting the 6 week postpartum exam is very important because your doctor will do an internal exam to see if you are healing properly. Your doctor may want to see if your episiotomy is fully healed, if there is any vaginal prolapse, if you have diastasis recti or any other residual side effects from pregnancy and childbirth.

If you were to begin working out during the 6 week postpartum wait without that exam, you may make your condition worse by doing the wrong exercises. 

It’s always best to wait, get approval by your doctor and then begin with the proper exercise routine at the right time when your body is fully healed.

The body takes at least 6 weeks to fully heal after childbirth. It may seem like a long time, but that’s the way our bodies work. We can’t rush it. So let your body do what it needs to do to heal.

With that said, I’m not advising you to be a couch potato. So how long do you need to actually rest for before doing physical activity? Let’s jump into that question next.

Wait for the 6 week postpartum check-up with your doctor before beginning a postpartum workout or exercise routine.

How Long Do You Need To Rest After Having A Baby?

 

New moms are not meant to live sedentary lives. You are going to have to walk, lift your baby and move around throughout the day. So there are a few things I recommend you do for physical activity before the 6 week postpartum check-up. But I don’t recommend starting a full on postpartum workout routine. You need to rest the first 6 weeks.

Everyone’s idea of rest is different.

I recommend evaluating how you feel during the first 7 days after childbirth and taking is extremely easy. Get lots of rest, be off your feet as much as possible, avoid doing a lot of house work and focus on taking care of you and your baby. 

Related: Mommy & Me Workout: 7 Leg Exercises with Baby

After the first week, see how you feel. Do you feel better or still feel the same as the first week of postpartum? If you feel better, than I suggest doing more physical activity around the house. If you don’t feel better, than keep off your feel as much as possible until you start to see improvements in your pain and overall condition. 

Each passing week, start to assess how you feel overall and gradually increase the amount of hours you are on your feet each day based on how you feel. You may even want to keep track of the amount of steps you take using your Fitbit or Apple watch to see if you are increasing your activity too quickly each day.

If you are wondering if you are allowed to go for a walk week 1 postpartum, don’t worry. A lot of moms are asking that same question. We will tackle that question next.

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    Can I Go For A Walk 1 Week Postpartum?

     

    Going for a walk is a broad question. For some, a walk could be a couple laps inside their living room, for others it could be somewhat of a hike up and down their driveway and for others, a walk could be a 2 mile path in their neighborhood park. 

    Here’s the thing about going for a walk: as a physical therapist, I highly recommend walking the first week postpartum, but the intensity of the walk I’m going to be strict about. 

    A postpartum walk the first week needs to be 2-5 minutes in duration at a slow pace on level ground. Don’t walk on uneven ground outside, on hills or high terrain.

    Choose a flat surface such as inside the home or on a paved sidewalk. Time your walk and set the timer for no longer than 5 minutes the first week postpartum. The following week, increase the time by 2-5 minutes.

    Each week increase the duration of your timed walk in increments. You should not be doing a brisk walk on uneven terrain until after your 6 week postpartum check-up.

    If you choose to walk wearing your baby or pushing your baby in the stroller, keep in mind that you are putting more strain on your body and you want to avoid any strenuous pushing or heavy lifting while walking because of the risk of increasing  internal pelvic pressure after childbirth.

    Can You Work Out 2 Weeks Postpartum?

     

    I do not recommend working out 2 weeks postpartum due to the risk of injury after childbirth. Your body is still healing and continues to have high levels of hormones that cause your body to be more prone to injury.

    There are too many unknowns during the first 6 weeks postpartum, especially during the first two weeks when complications post pregnancy are at their highest.

    For that reason you need to be very cautious the first 6 weeks before your postpartum check-up.

    If you were to begin working out at 2 weeks postpartum without that exam, you may have made an underlying condition that you were not aware of worse by doing the wrong exercises or doing too much exercise.

    It’s always best to wait, get approval by your doctor and then begin with the proper exercise routine at the right time when your body is fully healed.

     

    Can I Start Working Out 3 Weeks Postpartum If I’m Feeling Better?

     

    I recommend not working out 3 weeks postpartum either, even if you are feeling better. You did not get your doctors approval yet, just like I mentioned earlier.

    Continue to do light walking activity to maintain good healthy habits after having a baby, but your body is still not ready to endure a workout program that early after childbirth.

    Your body will quickly recover after the 6 week postpartum check-up once you  begin a safe postpartum workout program.

    There is no rush to get a flat stomach and lose the baby weight this early on during postpartum recovery.

    The safest thing to do is eat healthy meals, focus on getting adequate sleep and find a postpartum workout program that is right for you. Once you have that program picked out, save it for 6 weeks and then you can put your all into your postpartum fitness goals. 

    If you haven’t found a postpartum program yet that is safe and effective, I recommend my Postpartum Ab Rehab program that I specifically designed for postpartum women to start at 6 weeks postpartum that targets the abs and flattens your belly in 12 weeks.

    It’s easy and only take 1 minute a day to start. You can learn more about this program at postpartumabs.com.

    How Can I Speed Up My Postpartum Healing?

     

    Now that you know it’s not safe to work out until 6 weeks postpartum, there are other natural ways you can do to speed up your healing while you wait the 6 weeks.

    The 6 week postpartum wait is the perfect time to educate yourself on sleep training your baby. The better your baby sleeps the better you will sleep, and sleep is the ultimate way to heal your body postpartum.

    Focus on improving your nursing skills. The sooner you become a pro at breastfeeding and pumping, the better your body will naturally recover on its own. 

    Continue to take your prenatal vitamins, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and eat a well balanced diet. There are many more natural ways to help speed up your postpartum healing. I go into more detail in this article here where I talk about my ultimate list of postpartum recovery tips to improve healing after childbirth.

    What Exercises Can I Do Postpartum?

     

    When you are given the green light by your doctor to do postpartum exercises after the 6 week postpartum check-up, I recommend you find a program designed by a medical professional such as a personal trainer, a physical therapist or a women’s health specialist. 

    Just finding a random postpartum workout video from an everyday mom on YouTube can be unsafe so please choose your workout program wisely.

    I have designed many postpartum workouts as a physical therapist and a mom of 4, but my favorite thus far is my 10 for 10 Total Body Transformation challenge workout. It’s a great starting point for any new mom who is 6+ weeks postpartum because it only takes 10 minutes, it covers the entire body and it’s safe for a postpartum body that is still recovering. 

    You want to do exercises that are gentle, slow, incorporate breathing and good body positioning, low impact and never straining.

    Starting off with lower intensity workouts that include fewer reps and sets makes it easier to follow a program. A postpartum workout needs to gradually build upon itself. I never would recommend jumping right into a 20 minute HIIT workout for your first postpartum workout, but instead a simple 8 minute total body workout for beginners.

    When it comes to ab exercises, I recommend starting with this postpartum ab workout before anything else. 

    Related: 17 Best Total Body Babywearing Exercises for your Mommy & Me Workout

    What Should You Not Do Postpartum?

     

    There are many workouts you should not do postpartum. I advise avoiding high intensity workouts, such as jumping, plyometrics, fast intervals, heavy lifting and quick changes in directions.

    Avoid a lot of stair climbing and pushing through your legs such as a squat machine, rowing, stair climber or walking on a steep incline on the treadmill.

    Any workout that involves straining is a red flag when it comes to postpartum workouts. You will eventually be able to get to those high level workouts, but as an initial workout early on during postpartum recovery, you are putting yourself at risk.

     Consider yourself still pregnant when choosing a workout early on in postpartum recovery. Your body has had several weeks of rest and minimal activity. Anyone who goes that long without training and exercise is more prone to injury, so be safe with what you decide to do with your first workout. 

    How Can I Make My Tummy Flat After Delivery?

     

    I’m so glad you asked, this is my all time favorite question!! My specialty as physical therapist is rehabbing the abs postpartum in order to get a flat tummy again

     

    I have designed a specific postpartum ab program that has helped me to get my abs toned and my stomach flat after having each of my 4 babies, and it has done wonders for these moms as well.

    This program is designed to target the inner muscles of your core in just the right way to help draw the belly in, making your stomach flat again after having a baby. It’s not just about the 6 pack abs, it’s about the entire core toning together as one unit.

    If you want to learn more about how to get a flat tummy after delivery, you can get a FREE chapter of my Postpartum Ab Rehab program here

    Feel free to comment below with any postpartum ab questions.

    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. 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.

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