“Physical therapists agree that it’s best to return to exercise slowly, and listen to your body in the process,” says Anna Grant, DPT, a physical therapist at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns. “Listening to your body means monitoring yourself for symptoms and modifying your activity if you have any signs of exercise intolerance.”
Grant suggests postpartum exercise in the following phases:
- First several weeks postpartum
Take short walks and do gentle core exercises such as Kegels and the drawing in maneuver.
- 6 to 8 weeks postpartum
Add gentle, low-impact strengthening such as the clam or bridge exercises. Low-intensity water exercise is also safe at this time, as long as you are no longer experiencing vaginal bleeding.
- 8 to 12 weeks postpartum
Gradually increase exercise intensity, such as including light weight training.
- 4 to 6 months postpartum
Return to more intense exercises such as running, jumping, planks and sit-ups. Waiting 4 to 6 months allows the pelvic floor muscles and abdominals to heal properly after being stretched during pregnancy and delivery.
- New or worsening pain anywhere in your body
- Increased vaginal bleeding
- Urinary or fecal leaking
- Heaviness in your vaginal region
- Bulging, or a ridge along the midline of the abdomen
- C-section scar soreness that lasts longer than 2 weeks after birth