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For New Mothers: Staying Fit After Delivery

After you deliver your baby, you can start to exercise when you feel ready. Let your body be your guide. Most women are ready to exercise after 6 weeks, where some women will be ready a few days after giving birth. If you’ve had a cesarean section, you will need more time. Ask your healthcare provider when it is safe to start exercising again.

Exercise tips for new mothers

You can start doing Kegel exercises as soon as you deliver your baby. Do them at least 10 times a day to help prevent bladder problems later on. Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic muscles. To do them, squeeze the muscles that you use to stop passing urine (don't do this while urinating). Hold that squeeze for a count of 10, then release. 

You will want to resume other exercise slowly and talk to your healthcare provider before starting. Always exercise with care. When you first start exercising after giving birth, try simple exercises that help strengthen major muscle groups, including belly (abdominal) and back muscles. Slowly add moderate-intensity exercise. Try to work up to at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You can still talk normally. But you can't sing. Muscle-strengthening exercises should be done along with your aerobic activity on at least 2 days a week. Look for ways to combine exercising with being with your new baby. Try putting your baby into a front pack or in the stroller and take a walk.

Strengthening stomach muscles

Many new mothers want to strengthen their stomach muscles after giving birth. Try this exercise when you’re ready to resume your program. It will strengthen the front and side muscles of your stomach:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your stomach. Use your fingers to gently pull the sides of the stomach toward the middle of your body.

  • Exhale and try to pull the stomach muscles toward your spine. Gently raise your shoulders off the floor, no more than 6 to 8 inches. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

Woman lying on back doing stomach strengthening exercise.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2021
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