Returning to exercise after having a baby can be exciting but also daunting. Your body has undergone immense changes over almost a year and with a new baby in the house, finding the time and energy can be challenging.
Once you feel able to focus on getting moving again, it’s important to have a few guidelines in place to ensure you do it safely to minimise injury risk for yourself.
Initial recommendations prior to returning to exercise:
- 6-week GP or OB check-up for overall health and well-being check, stitches healing, clearance to exercise
- Women’s Health Physiotherapy check for assessment of pelvic floor function, healing of stitches, abdominal separation (DRAM)
- If you are experiencing leaking, vaginal bulging/pressure/heaviness, pain or an injury, please be assessed by a women’s health physiotherapist or specialist.
When you are ready:
- Keep it low impact for the first 3 months post-partum (e.g. walking, cycling, swimming, Pilates or strengthening exercises)
- Walking is a great place to start, even at 5-10mins daily, aiming to gradually build up to 30mins a day by 6-8 weeks post-partum
- Restore and build strength with a personalised strength program (e.g. in a gym, Pilates, at home strength program)
- Focus on your pelvic floor exercises as prescribed – they are not a one size fits all exercise; they should be tailored to your needs after an assessment
- Higher impact activity such as running, jumping or high intensity interval training can be gradually commenced from 3-6 months post-partum
Returning to higher impact activity or running?
The “Returning to running post-natal guidelines” by Tom Goom, Gráinne Donnelly and Emma Brockwell is a great comprehensive read that provides guidance to women who would like to return to high impact activity and/or running after having a baby.
Here are some of their guidelines to get you started:
– Stick to low impact exercise for the first 3 months
– Every woman should seek/receive a pelvic health assessment with a specialist physiotherapist to assess the abdominal wall and pelvic floor function
– Return to running is not advisable if there are symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction (e.g. bladder or bowel leakage, heaviness or bulging in the pelvic area, bleeding not related to menstrual cycle) either prior to or after returning to running (in these cases, see a specialist physiotherapist for assessment)
– Have your baseline strength tested by a health professional so you can focus on areas that may need work
– Foot size can alter permanently during pregnancy, double check your shoes are the right fit for you
– Sleep is key for recovery, take it when you can
– Start sensible and small, even just 1-2mins running, 1-2mins walking at an easy pace
– Build distance and time (overall volume) gradually before working on intensity (e.g. speed)
If you are unsure where to start in your exercise journey, please get in touch so that we can help provide an assessment and personalised program.
Complete. is hosting a free event to provide information and guidance on how to return to exercise safely and confidently after having a baby on Thursday 8th June at 1pm.
Presented by one of our Physiotherapists Ni’ia Jones and Beth Miles from Women’s Health Physiotherapist. Topics will include pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic floor muscle strength and assessment for return to exercise, abdominal separation, where to start on your exercise journey and how to progress to higher intensity exercise such as strength training or running.
Please contact our clinic or register using this link: www.trybooking.com/CICHR.
Disclaimer: This blog is not a replacement for personal medical advice or assessment. You should always seek a consultation with your main healthcare provider to clear you to exercise and to progress you safely.
Related: Pregnancy Physiotherapy