Excited to get right back on the fitness saddle after giving birth? We appreciate the enthusiasm, but we gotta say: hold on there mama, there’s a few things you need to consider. First off, you need to ask yourself: “how long do I need to wait to workout after I have my baby?” Then, you need to find the right workouts that are tailored for your recovering body.
And by that, we mean finding exercises that protect your lower back and any other areas impacted by your pregnancy. For most typical pregnancies and deliveries, one area in specific that you might want to target are your deep and transverse abdominals. Doing post-partum exercises to target that area without damaging your weakened core muscles, or worsening your diastasis recti (a condition where vertical abdominal muscles split apart in preparation for pregnancy), is super important to do after you have a baby.
I personally experienced that rectus abdominal spilt after my baby number 3. My doctor told me there was a surgery I could have because mine tore 3 inches wide, but I opted to first try exercise. Guess what… it worked! Now my abs are completely back together. It did take just over a year, but it was a safe, natural, effective route with less risks (like scar tissue) than surgery.
So, below I’ll share 5 of the best exercises for a safe post-partum workout routine.
When Can I Work Out After a Baby?
Most doctors recommend waiting 6 weeks until after the birth to resume a workout routine – longer if you had a c-section or complication. In between that time, it’s often recommended that moms perform light, low-impact workouts that won’t put unnecessary stress on their recovering bodies.
Of course, since every pregnancy is different, you need to listen to your body and check with your doctor. Some need 3 months, and some hit the gym after 3 days! The bottom line is that no publication can predict when you feel ready, so ultimately, it’s up to you and your doctor to get the green light.
Benefits of Working Out After Baby
Light workouts after a baby leads to higher energy levels, less stress, and more strength. The general benefits of exercise could even possibly help with symptoms of postpartum depression. And don’t worry about your milk “souring” after exercise—that’s just a myth.
How to Have a Safe, Post-Partum Workout Routine
First off, you need to focus on low-impact exercises that help your core and pelvic floor, like targeting your deep abdominals and transverse abdominals. Of course, you’ll need to avoid traditional exercises like crunches, sit-ups, push-ups and planks—basically anything that forces you to curve your stomach.
And remember, even if you were a straight-up gym nut before, it’ll be difficult for you to get to that place immediately, so be patient and recognize that it’ll take time. You’re dealing with atrophied muscles, bad posture, an achy body, and general fatigue. That’s also why you should always hydrate.
In the end, the best thing you can do is find a certified instructor that can help!
Okay, now that’s settled, let’s look at some of the best post-pregnancy exercises, shall we?
1. Side Plank
• Lay on your side with your weight on your forearm on the floor
• Extend your legs in front of you (option to keep the bottom leg bent and under you like the lady in the back row above is doing, to lessen the intensity)
• Make sure your elbow is lined up directly under your shoulder
• Ensure your body is in a straight line
• Engage your core
• Hold for 15 seconds at a time and perform this 3x per side
2. Walking Lunges
• From a standing position, step your right leg forward and lunge until your thigh is parallel to the ground
• Make sure your foot is directly under your knee
• Hold for 2 seconds
• Squeeze your glutes to stabilize your back leg
• Return to standing position
• Walking forward, step your left leg in front of you and lunge
• Go for 30 seconds, take a rest and then go again 2 more times
• Lying on your back on a mat, hold your head with your hands
• Slightly sitting up, keep your elbows wide and rotate your right elbow towards your left
• At the same time, bring your bent left knee in
• Repeat for the opposite side
• Go slow and steady for 30 seconds, rest, and repeat 2 more times
4. Single Straight Leg Extension
• Lying on your back on a mat, put your feet together
• Place you hands under your tailbone for support
• Raise both legs up so your hips are at a 90° angle
• Slowly lower your legs until you feel your core engage
• Scissor Kick your legs for 30 seconds, rest, then repeat 2 more times
5. The Superman
• Lay on a mat on your belly
• Reach our arms in front of you
• At the same time, lift your upper body and feet of the ground
• Engage your belly and squeeze your shoulder blades together
• Try not to arch your lower back
• Lower your limbs
• Repeat for 30 seconds, rest, then repeat 2 more times
We get that you’re eager to get back in shape – but it’s important that you take it easy when your body’s just healing. Of course, when you are ready to get back on that Spin bike (or just want some low-impact workouts to tide you over), make sure to login to Studio SWEAT onDemand and sign up for our 7-Day Free Trial. You’ll get access to Studio SWEAT onDemand’s huge library of the hottest workouts (including our amazing Postpartum Abs Video Series with Brooke!) led by real trainers who can guide you through every exercise safely. So whaddaya think? Let’s get to work, mama!