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For New Mothers: Staying Fit After Delivery

Woman lying on back doing stomach strengthening exercise.

After you deliver your baby, you can start to exercise whenever 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 delivery. If you’ve had a cesarean section, you will need more time. If you've had a cesarean section, ask your healthcare provider when it is safe to begin 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 avoid bladder problems later on. Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic muscles. To do them, squeeze the muscles that you use to stop passing urine (do not do this while urinating). Hold that squeeze for a count of 10, then release. 

You will want to resume other exercise gradually and talk to your healthcare provider before starting. Always exercise with care. Limit yourself to special postpartum or low-impact exercises for at least 6 months before trying to do more demanding exercises. Look for ways to combine exercising with being with your new baby. Try propping your baby up in a carrier so that he or she can watch you exercise at home or in a class. Or, strap your baby into a front pack 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.

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.