Exercising after Childbirth

Exercising after Childbirth

Before returning to exercise after your baby is born, you should visit a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to assess your pelvic floor function, abdominal muscle strength, posture and alignment.

Low impact exercise is recommended when breastfeeding, altered hormone levels can lead to reduced stability in the body which can increase risk of injury during high impact exercises.

Both vaginal and caesarean deliveries can create changes to your body which may lead to injury or pain when returning to exercise.

In the early days you may be experiencing intense pain: following vaginal delivery you may feel sore and numb in that area and have difficulty using the toilet or activating your pelvic floor. Leakage/accidents are common. Following a C-section you may experience abdominal pain and weakness when lifting and moving positions.

All women will have weak abdominal muscles after pregnancy, and it is normal to have a gap (diastasis recti) for 6 weeks after delivery. For many women, this gap is present for many months/years after childbirth and can go undiagnosed.

What Exercise is Recommended in the Early Weeks after Childbirth?

Week 0-4

  • Walking – distance and speed as tolerated.
  • Basic core exercises – lying on the floor/yoga mat.
  • Pelvic floor activations (once you don’t have a catheter inserted).


Week 4-6

  • Progress walking and core exercises as tolerated, include functional movements such a squats and lunges to help prepare your body for returning to normal activities of daily living.
  • Continue to progress pelvic floor exercise.
  • If your pain has resolved, try using a cross-trainer or stationary bike to increase cardiovascular exercise.


Week 6-8

  • Increase the intensity of your core exercises and low impact exercises such as squats – avoid bouncing or jumping movements.
  • Power walking.
  • Resistance work arms and legs (resistance bands or light weights).
  • Deadlift and squatting with a weight similar to baby in the car seat aprox 15kg.
  • Scar release – C section scar in the abdominals or perineal scar in the vagina.

Week 8-12

  • As previous.
  • Spinning class.
  • Swimming (if post-partum bleeding has stopped and wounds have healed).


Week 12 Onwards

  • Running – start with couch to 5km style plan – to slowly ease yourself back.
  • Return to fitness classes but avoid high impact moves such a jumping jacks, squat jumps and lunge jumps.
  • Avoid lots of sit-ups and/or abdominal exercises that are high level such as double leg lifts, as your abdominal muscles may still be weak and exerting too much pressure could cause injury.

Book A Consultation

You can book a Physiotherapy consultation with us today – at a time and date that suits your schedule. Click below to begin.