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  • Writer's pictureEmma Carpenter

The Do’s and Dont’s for exercise after having a baby?

I get this question a lot when women come to me after having a baby. I was running a strength and conditioning session with the Ipswich Ladies Netball regional squad the other night, a lady had come back from having a baby 4 months ago. The first thing she said was I don't know what I can and can't do now I have had my baby. I asked the same 5 questions I ask all women that come to me after having a baby?

How far postpartum are you?

Did you have any complications during birth?

What type of birth did you have?

Have you had the all clear from your doctor/midwife?

Have you got any complications after birth like DiastasisRecti or weakened pelvic floors?

I see you thinking how do these questions have any relevance to what you can and can't do regarding exercise? But Emma I exercised before and during my pregnancy. Yes it is great that you exercised before and after however if you have only just had a baby 6 weeks ago, had a c- section, had a traumatic birth, not had the all clear or have had complications with DiastasisRecti or weakened pelvic floors this will effect what you can and cant do for exercise postpartum. But why Emma? Don't worry I am going to break it down below for you.


  • You must have the 6 week check up and get the all clear from your doctor/midwife before you can even think about starting to exercise again. You need to know your body is recovered enough to start exercising. When it comes to joining a gym/ having a personal trainer, this is needed before they even allow you to use any equipment.

  • If there has been complications during your birth whether you, haemorrhaged, had to be cut, forceps used etc then your recovery time after birth may be longer than 6 weeks for vaginal births and this case you may not be able to exercise after your 6 week check up.

  • C sections you will not be able to complete heavy lifting due to the deep tissue repair needed on your body and the likelihood of re-tearing. Also when you have a c-section you may be more likely to suffer from DiastasisRecti so you need to make sure you speak to a specialist as exercises like sit ups, planks, heavy lifting, bicycle crunches, high impact exercises should not be done unless you are with a specialist due to it impacting your core muscles, pelvic floors and overal muscles.

  • Use diaphragmatic breathing when lifting anything in the gym or performing any type of exercise and do not hold your breath. If you hold your breath or do not engage your core your at risk of leaking, hurting your core muscles further, cause back injuries and causing yourself more harm than good. Remember you have to care for a baby, you don't want to put yourself at risk.

  • Do be mindful of your joints. When you have had a baby you have higher levels of the hormone relaxin in your body. This helps prepare your body to birth a baby. Be mindful that high impact exercises or quick change of directions can cause strain on the joints, this can cause injuries to ligaments due to having higher levels of relaxin in your body.

  • Do not jump straight back into high impact or High intensity exercise straight away, listen to your body, you can cause more injuries and risk of burning out quicker after having a baby. Gaining infections in your breasts and surgical wounds are heightened and exercises can increase these risks more.

  • Lastly don't put too much pressure on yourself, having a baby is a huge change to your body, sleep cycle and routine, you will know when you are ready. If you are not sure then please seek advise from a specialist.

Let's talk about what you should do and can do regarding exercise after having a baby.


  • Make sure you get the all clear from your doctor/ midwife to be able to exercise and make sure to fill out a par-Q which is a health questionnaire for exercise.

  • Use diaphragmatic breathing, which connects your whole pelvic floors. Which includes your diaphragm, pelvic floor, vagina, lungs and core muscles. When ever you lift during exercise or lifting your baby make sure to use connective breathing. Imagine there is a kidney bean in the opening of your vagina and you are picking it up. Pull your belly button in and up and make sure to exhale when doing the concentric movement and inhale on the eccentric movement.

  • Make sure to complete your pelvic floor exercises after having your baby, use these exercises when your performing exercise too as leaking urine is common after having a baby.

  • Gradually build on the length of time you exercise to start with then build on the intensity and amount of weight used in each exercise. The recommended weekly exercise for postpartum women is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. This could include 5 x 30 minute brisk walks a week. You can then build on the length of time and intensity/ weight after you manage to complete the recommended weekly exercise. Remember every individual is different so 150 minutes of moderate exercise may not be manageable straight away and that is okay too.

  • Complete exercises that will help with your daily task of having a baby. For example farmers carries, side bend exercises, sitting and standing, getting off the floor and exercises that will help strengthen your core and pelvic floors.

  • When it comes to core exercises complete gentle exercises like heel taps, pelvis lifts, pelvic rocks, dead bugs, single leg raises. Remember when doing these use your connective and diaphragmatic breathing exercises.

Remember when it comes to exercise listen to your body. Everyone is an individual. Everyone's birth, routine and body are all different. What one person can do the other person may not. What intensity is good for one person may not be the ideal for the next. 60% of women suffer with DiastasisRecti after having a baby. 80% of women suffer with weakened pelvic floors and 75% of women will say their posture has changed during/after birth which causes lower back pain. Now a days babies birth weight is increasing which increases the chances of c sections rather than vaginal births. Complications do happen however with complications and medical conditions it does effect when and how you exercise. This is when you should seek help from a pre and post natal specialist coach. And always work on the fundamentals first like your pelvic floors, core muscles, lower back, posture and everyday tasks.

Exercise is great for your mental wellbeing too. Over 30% of women state they have had some sort of post natal depression once they have had their baby. Exercise helps release endorphins which I like to call the feel good drug. Stress and cortisol levels increasing during and after birth can cause risks including breast milk drying up earlier and also breast infections. Don't exercise with full breasts and don't over do it. However the overall effect exercise has on your mental wellbeing is positive therefore once you get the all clear try and get out and about. Like I said above even a small walk each day can help you get back into exercise and boost your endorphins levels. I want to reliterate that listen t your body, you know what it can do and don't compare yourself to others, you are on your own journey and you are doing amazing!

With every blog I like to leave you with some questions for food for thought. Have you had a baby and exercised after? Did you find exercise helpful? Did you find exercise unhelpful? Did you have complications during birth and was able to exercise? Have you learn't anything from the do's and don'ts for exercise after having a baby? But remember guys let's keep it real!

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