Are you not yet 6 weeks postpartum? Ready to return to exercise postpartum?
If you’ve been active through your pregnancy the idea of taking a 6-week break from exercise might have you feeling a little itchy. Which is why it’s very common for me to get questions in my DMs like:
I’m not quite 6 weeks postpartum, is it ok to start exercising?
I’ve had 3 babies myself and I’ve worked with hundreds of postpartum moms, believe me when I say I totally hear you.
I hear all the things you’re not saying when you ask that question.
The EXCITEMENT about getting back to exercise now that pregnancy is over
The PRESSURE you might be feeling from yourself and society to get your body back.
The CONFUSION you have about how to get back into exercise.
The WORRY that you might never feel as strong and motivated as you used to.
The heavy anxiety you have going on about this new life and the lack of control that comes with it. It’s so easy to want to fix that with exercise right?
It can be so much at times. It absolutely was for me after the birth of my first kiddo.
Listen, I know you want to get back to moving your body in a way that feels good ASAP. I want that for you too.
Hear this: I know you want to move again, I know this stage feels hard, I know it feels like you might never get back at it, but you will.
Exercise is going to be there when you’re ready and I am here to give you a great framework to make your return, but in the meantime: Learn how to be a mom.
Whether this is your 1st or 5th baby you have to relearn how to care for that baby, you have to adjust to life with X number of children. Give yourself the time and permission to do that. Exercise will be there when your body (not just your brain) is ready.
Do you really need to wait 6 whole weeks before heading back to the gym?
I KNOW. That’s kind of an annoying answer, but the truth is there is no hard and fast rules.
Right now, you might be feeling totally overwhelmed by your emotions. I absolutely was (all those feelings above were mine, to a T).
Exercise was a part of my identity and I wanted to have that piece back as soon as humanly possible, but I wasn’t really sure what that looked like.
Let’s talk specifics
Pre-6 Week Check-Up
You’re a new mom. Even if it’s your 3rd kid, its your first time being a mom to that many kids.
Have grace for yourself.
Exercise will be there when you (& your body) are ready.
In the early weeks you can absolutely stretch, walk, and start some light movement if it feels good (unless Dr says otherwise).
By light movement I mean some core + pelvic floor restorative breathing & rehab type movements.
Need some ideas? I put together 7 stretches to do in the first 6 weeks postpartum along with a little video on restorative breathing. Find that here.
During this chapter you might be feeling a little stir crazy mentally. It feels like all you do is feed the baby, change its diaper, soothe its cries over and over and over again.
One moment you can be loving the stage, the next minute you might find yourself on the brink of a meltdown.
One thing that I found particularly helpful during those first few weeks postpartum was loading up a podcast or audiobook. Listening to something that made me think and took me out of my mom role for a few minutes was a great outlet for me.
A few recommendations:
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd
My Favorite Murder
Catch & Kill
Side note: This stage of postpartum is a really good time to check in with your mental health therapist. There is no shame in taking time to sit with someone you trust and unpack all the things you’re feeling. My weekly therapy appointments have no doubt changed my life.
Post-6 Week Check Up
Dr says you’re “cleared”? Exciting. So head back to the gym then?
Being cleared does not mean that you’re ready to begin exercising again at your pre-pregnancy levels (or even pregnancy level). Being cleared by your O.B. or midwife means that you’re no longer bleeding, your cervix is closed, and any stitches from tearing during delivery have dissolved.
Even after being cleared by an O.B. or midwife I would still recommend an assessment with a pelvic floor physical therapist. What a PFPT checks will be different than your OB. They are looking at your pelvic floor and its ability to meet the demands of exercise. They will assess your abs, and they will be able to give you a better idea of anything specific you’ll want to be mindful of as you return to exercise.
Find a pelvic floor physical therapist in your area HERE.
At 6 weeks postpartum you are very much still healing.
At this stage I tell my clients to focus on gaining strength and progressing incrementally instead of opting for intensity. (It’s not forever, it’s just for now).
My first workout at 6 weeks postpartum after kid #1 consisted of 50 burpees and 50 barbell thrusters. While that wasn’t smart, I didn’t know a better way.
For a deeper look at this and a step by step approach check out my postpartum guide.
It’s an A-Z guide to your first 16 weeks postpartum and it answers questions like
- What can you do in the first 6 weeks after birth?
- How do you strengthen your core?
- What does your return to exercise look like?
- Should you be worried about diastasi recti?
There are no hard & fast rules
It would absolutely be easier if I could say:
❌Don’t workout before 6 weeks,
✅Do whatever you want after 6 weeks.
What’s right for your body though probably lies somewhere in between the two extremes.
Instead of following generic rules I encourage you to:
1️⃣Tune into your body and how it’s feeling
2️⃣Let yourself be postpartum
3️⃣Educate yourself (I have a whole E-book on returning to exercise postpartum)
4️⃣Get to pelvic floor PT if you can
Save this post to remind yourself as much as you need
Ready to Return To Exercise Post Baby?
I’ve got an 8 week post baby fitness plan for you.
It’s call The Postpartum Athlete and it will help you:
- Regain your Core + Pelvic Floor Function
- Strengthen Your Body After Pregnancy
- Return to the Workouts you Love
This 8 week program will progress you with intention through 4 different phases of workouts designed to get you get you moving and feeling strong while keeping your core and pelvic floor health top of mind.