Returning to exercise after pregnancy [2022]

Welcome to motherhood!

Bringing home your new bundle of joy comes with a pretty good dose of exhaustion, and by good I mean very. It can be very, very exhausting. What we often hear from new Mums as they are beginning to try to find some routine and a glimpse at a new normal.. is that they’re keen to start the road back to a fitter body. As soon as possible! Now, last week even.

Let’s just pause for a second and have a look at how we should do this to minimise any unnecessary bumps on the road.

It can be helpful to think about the stress your body has undergone as similar to other types of injuries, like a sprained ankle or injured shoulder – if we had body injury that we could SEE, we’d probably be more likely to make a measured plan back to health and fitness.

Your body has just done something pretty remarkable – it’s made, carried, and delivered a baby.

Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to the body which need to be monitored when thinking of returning to exercise after giving birth. The pelvic floor has undergone a lot of stress and load during pregnancy. If you underwent a vaginal birth with possible tears, there’s an added layer of stress your body has sustained. This, like any healing muscle, needs time to ensure it functions properly. Everyone’s recovery is going to look different.

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Here is a general guide towards recovery after you have given birth.

Remember listen to your body , midwife and obstetrician and take  a measured and sensible approach.

If you do this you’ll get to where you want to be a lot quicker than if you go too hard too soon. Remember that you wouldn’t run on a sprained ankle, so don’t push your body too soon.

Exercise after pregnancy, the first 3 weeks

0-3 weeks:

walking with pram is a great way to get moving again
  • walking
  • pelvic floor exercises
  • mobility

Starting relatively easy for the first few weeks allows the body to heal and become accustomed to itself again.

Starting with gentle pelvic floor and mobility exercises gets the body used to normal movement and gentle load again.




Don’t disregard what you do on a daily basis either. Holding, breastfeeding, lifting, carrying groceries and cleaning the house are all things you will also be doing during this time, and may be more than enough for your body to handle.

Think of this type of movement as part of your recovery plan.

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Exercise after pregnancy, Weeks 4 – 8.

4-8 weeks:

This is the time when you can think about transitioning into low impact aerobic exercise

  • water aerobics
  • post-natal classes or
  • very gentle gym programs focusing on posture and light strength can begin.


Listening to your body and your midwife

Listening to your body during this time is imperative.

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of pain, incontinence or fear, it is recommended seeing a pelvic floor/postnatal expert to discuss other options.

Even if there are not symptoms, it can also be beneficial to have your abdominal separation and pelvic floor strength assessed for some targeted exercises to start with.

Exercise and pregnancy 8-12 weeks after giving birth.

Bodyweight pilates exercises with added resistance

This is the time you can start thinking about your longer term goals for recovery and ‘back to normal’.

What happens next will depend on your individual goals.

For most women, I recommend some form of weights training for whole body strength.

Being a mother involves a lot of lifting and awkward carrying, so being strong helps significantly in preventing postural pain and injury.

For those wanting to get back into running and sport, strength is also the best place to start.

An at home program from 8 weeks if you symptoms aren’t present could include:

  • squats
  • lunges
  • chest press
  • beginner level pilates /core exercises like toe taps
  • some gentle cardio

At 12-14 weeks

Slowly increasing the weight, and transitioning into gentle plyometrics like skipping and jumping can be considered.

It is recommended waiting until the 3-4 month mark before starting any form of higher impact training, and ensuring your pelvic floor will be strong enough to handle it.

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What NOT to do

Some exercises which are advised against (at least in the first 3-4 months) are

  • sit ups
  • planks
  • curl ups
  • hovers and
  • mountain climbers

These type of exercises place pressures on the abdominals and pelvic floor during these movements.

As we’ve said before – we wouldn’t run on that sprained ankle before it was rehabbed so let’s do our pelvic floor the same courtesy.

I love helping Mums get back to exercise, and often find a fitter, stronger version of themselves as ever before.

If you have any questions or want to get back to exercise after pregnancy you can book in with me here.

Thanks for reading , Rani

Rani Goulding - Arana Hills Physiotherapy