Exercise After Your Baby is Born

What are the benefits of exercise after my baby is born?

An exercise program can help you:

  • Lose weight and keep a healthy weight
  • Lower stress
  • Tighten stretched belly and pelvic muscles
  • Increase your strength and energy
  • Lift your mood

When can I start exercising?

Once your healthcare provider says it’s OK and you feel ready, you can begin a gentle exercise program. Walking and gentle stretching and strengthening exercises are the best exercises to start with. You should avoid any strenuous exercise, such as running or jumping, for at least 6 weeks after the birth of your baby. If you had a C-section, ask your healthcare provider when you can start exercising and what types of exercises you can do.

What exercises should I do?

Walking is a good exercise to start with because it is gentle, you don’t need special equipment, and you can bring your baby with you. Start with 15 minutes of walking at least 3 times a week. Try to increase walking time by 5 minutes each week. Once you are up to walking for 45 minutes at a time, increase the intensity of your exercise by walking faster or walking up hills. After 6 weeks you may be able to start jogging if that is your goal.

Bicycling, swimming, yoga, and Pilates can also be helpful. You may be able to start these types of exercise 1 to 2 weeks after a vaginal delivery.

Kegel exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support your bladder, vagina, uterus, and rectum. You use these muscles when you urinate, have bowel movements, and during sex. Your healthcare provider can teach you how to do Kegel exercises.

You can start doing exercises to strengthen your belly muscles when your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

How often should I exercise?

When you exercise, listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard or too fast. Try to work up to at least 2 hours and 30 minutes or more each week. You can start with short periods of time during the day. Three 10-minute sessions can be just as good as one 30-minute workout, and easier to manage with a new baby.

How can I make the most of my exercise program?

  • You should include warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after exercise. Muscles that have not been used are cool. Walking slowly for 5 to 10 minutes before starting your workout warms your muscles, making them more flexible and less prone to injury.
  • Right after exercise, let your heart rate return slowly to normal. Walking slowly, for example, will let you cool down and let your heart and breathing return to normal levels. You should also stretch the muscles you used during your exercise. Take 5 to 10 minutes to cool down.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after you exercise to keep from getting dehydrated.
  • Follow the same kind of healthy diet that you followed when you were pregnant. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, non-fat dairy products, and protein-rich meats, fish, poultry, and legumes. Eat a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Nurse your baby or pump before exercising if you are breast-feeding.
  • Wear a sports bra that fits properly.
  • Make sure that your exercises are enjoyable, not stressful.
  • Be patient. It may take several months before you are as fit as you were before your pregnancy.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-05-01
Last reviewed: 2014-05-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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