Exercise After Baby: Postpartum Fitness Guide

After giving birth, many women may find it difficult to find the motivation to exercise, especially with a new baby to take care of. Between the exhaustion and remaining soreness of birth, keeping fit can quickly drop to the bottom of a long list of priorities, but there are a number of benefits of exercising after birth.

As well as playing a key role in recovery, postpartum exercise has an extensive list of health benefits should you feel ready to exercise again. The body has been pushed to incredible lengths through pregnancy and may need encouragement to heal, and light postnatal exercise is a great way to start that process.

If you’re feeling nervous about postnatal exercise, aren’t sure when to start exercising after birth or simply need some pointers on where to start, we’re here to offer help. In this blog, we’ll be explaining the benefits of postpartum exercise, suggesting a few easy workouts to start with and running through everything you need to know to stay safe through it all.

Benefits of exercise after birth

Postpartum exercise has a range of health and fitness benefits that are worth the effort. Not only does exercise after birth give all the traditional benefits of working out, such as relieving stress, improving general physical health and increasing energy levels, but it also helps women recover from the birthing process. Physically, this means strengthening and toning muscles and keeping fit. Mentally, the benefits are potentially even more important, as post-pregnancy exercise can help prevent or ease the symptoms of postnatal depression.

Is it safe to exercise after pregnancy?

Yes, post-pregnancy exercise is encouraged, though there are some circumstances in which exercise is to be avoided, and any exercise performed should be done within your midwife or doctor’s recommended guidelines. Following their advice, which will have been tailored specifically to you, your health and your birth, will help to keep you safe and reduce any risks of injury during exercising.

How soon after giving birth can you exercise?

How soon you can start exercising after birth depends on a number of factors including the type of birth you had, how fit you were before your pregnancy and any exceptional circumstances that could affect your ability to exercise safely.

The NHS advises that women who’ve had births without any complications can undertake light postnatal exercise as soon as they feel capable and ready to do so. Try creating a gentle postnatal workout routine for yourself including non-strenuous activities such as light stretching, walking and some pelvic floor exercises. Pelvic floor exercises are a particularly good post-pregnancy exercise as they have the additional benefit of helping to improve bladder control, which is typically lacking in the weeks and months post birth.

What is the best exercise after giving birth?

Exercise after birth can be done in a wide variety of ways, and the best for one person could be ill suited to another. If you’re struggling to find a form of postpartum exercise that suits your lifestyle and personal preferences, take a look at some of the workout ideas we’ve listed below and try them out until you find one that works for you.

Remember to start slow, and don’t push yourself too hard. Your body is in recovery and needs to be treated with care. If you can manage 20-30 minutes of light exercise per day in the beginning (or even less, any time you can spare is a great start) and build it up from there you’re on the right track.

Postpartum exercise class

If you’re nervous to start exercising after birth, the best thing to do is to join a postnatal exercise class. Not only does this connect you with other mothers going through the same thing as you, giving you a group of people to talk to about your postpartum exercise goals, but it also allows you to learn and perform post-pregnancy-safe workouts from an expert who will be able to give helpful, first-hand directions.

Walking with a baby

A great way to combine exercise with parenting, taking your little one on a stroll in their buggy is a simple and relaxing form of postpartum exercise. Start with a light stroll to get used to the motion before upping the pace. Moving from a stroll to a brisk walk will help you rebuild your endurance and fitness over time.

Not only does taking your little one with you for your daily strolls give them some time outdoors (which is endlessly exciting and can help with development) but, if you swap out the buggy for a baby carrier, it can give you both some intimate time together. The Ergobaby aerloom baby carrier is a great option for this. Suitable from birth to three years, this comfy baby carrier will last you for years to come and is made from 87% recycled plastic bottles - meaning you can protect the environment as you protect your baby.

Running after birth

Once you’ve built up your fitness and confidence a little more, after the first few months you might feel more ready to get into running. Like walking, bringing your baby along for the ride can turn this postnatal exercise into a fun family outing. Of course, running with a baby requires a special, lightweight pram or running stroller, in order to keep them safe and comfortable.

If you don’t have a suitable stroller for jogging with, take a look through our best lightweight strollers of 2021 blog to help guide your search. Alternatively, we can’t help but love the Babyzen YOYO+ lightweight stroller. Weighing only 6.2kgs, this stroller was designed to make traveling a breeze and all of those features, such as its easy fold and featherlight weight, make this the perfect jogging stroller.

Swimming after birth

Swimming is a great postnatal exercise, the water giving your body the support it needs to move safely. If swimming is an activity you think you’d enjoy or would like to try, consider bringing your little one along too! Getting into the water is a fun activity for little ones, but they do need constant supervision so, if this is your plan, try to ask a friend or family member to come along. This way, they can watch the baby while you get some swimming in.

Once you’ve finished your swim, it pays to have a cuddly and soft baby towel to dry your little one with. If you’re looking for a fun design that is soft on your baby's skin, we recommend the Tommee Tippee Percy The Penguin hooded towel. Available in a variety of colours, and in sizes 0-6 months and 6-48 months, these cosy hooded towels will help comfort and soothe your baby after their big adventure.

Too busy to exercise?

Getting into the simple habit of choosing everyday exercise is the best way to carve some time out of your hectic schedule for a little postnatal exercise. Things such as choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift or parking the car at the far end of the supermarket and walking are just two examples of everyday changes you can make.

Find postpartum exercise aids and essentials at Direct4Baby

Make your exercising post birth easier with our selection of postpartum exercise essentials. From lightweight strollers that make running with your little one easier to cosy baby towels to bring with you to the pool, we have everything you need at Direct4Baby.