Returning to Exercise After Childbirth…The Safe Way

After the joy and excitement of bringing a new life into the world, many women find themselves eager to return to their pre-pregnancy fitness routine. I have felt the same after all three of my babies, so I get it. While the desire to shed those postpartum pounds is completely understandable, it's crucial to approach postpartum fitness with caution and prioritise the health of your body, especially the pelvic floor. I harp on about it all the time, but there is no rush. Yes, many of us are eager to jump back into the activities we love again, but we also need to remember that childbirth is a massive trauma on our bodies, and we need to give ourselves a little TLC. It is such a short chapter of our lives, so take it one step at a time.  

Before diving back into your exercise routine, it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider. They can provide personalised advice based on your specific circumstances, taking into consideration factors like the type of delivery you had and any complications you may have experienced. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, and listening to your body is key to remaining healthy…and consequently happy. Many ladies I meet in our community feel that they don't receive a comprehensive post natal check after delivery. If you feel that you didn't receive an adequate check post delivery then please, please, please if you haven’t looked into a Mummy MOT yet, then I would strongly recommend it. This examination is something that I firmly believe that all new mums should have access to and, therefore, something that I offer at my women’s physio clinic in Ketton, Stamford. But what is it? Good question.


“A Mummy MOT is a specialist postnatal examination for women following both vaginal and C-section deliveries. It assesses how your posture, pelvic floor muscles and stomach muscles are recovering after childbirth. A qualified Mummy MOT physiotherapist will provide you with gentle exercises and treatment to help your recovery and get you back on track with your fitness goals.”     [as taken from The Mummy MOT website]  If you would like to book a Mummy MOT with me then go to to book yours. 

One aspect often neglected in postpartum fitness discussions is the pelvic floor. This network of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues supports the bladder, uterus, and bowel. During pregnancy and childbirth, the pelvic floor undergoes significant strain, making it more susceptible to issues like prolapse and incontinence. To safeguard against these concerns, it's essential to focus on targeted exercises that strengthen and support the pelvic floor. Without this focus, we can be putting ourselves at huge risk…but sadly, we often aren’t warned of this. This needs to change.

Kegel exercises, which involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, are a great starting point. These exercises can be done discreetly throughout the day, helping to rebuild strength gradually. I once did a poll in my community to see when the most common time to do Kegels was, and top of the list was while waiting for things: traffic lights to change, kettle to boil, toaster to pop…we did have a giggle, but it was great to share tips. It's not all about squeezing as hard as you can, though; instead, it's about developing a mindful connection with these muscles. I always say it’s a whole-body approach, and I stand by that. Regular practice will contribute to better pelvic floor health over time. In addition to Kegels, incorporating exercises that engage the core and lower body can further support the pelvic floor. However, it's crucial to start slowly and gradually increase intensity. Jumping into high-impact activities too soon can put excessive strain on weakened pelvic floor muscles, increasing the risk of complications. Have you ever been for a run or picked up something heavy and then suddenly felt your symptoms increase? This is often because you haven’t prepared your pelvic floor first. It takes time, and that’s why I am here to help guide you.

Preparation is so important when it comes to postpartum fitness. Before leaping into a high-intensity workout, consider incorporating low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, cycling or prenatal yoga into your day first. These activities provide a gentle introduction to physical activity while minimising stress on the pelvic floor. As you build strength and endurance, you can gradually introduce more challenging workouts. But please make sure you have researched your instructor first, as sadly, many out there don’t have the correct training. It’s scary. Word of mouth is always a great starting point, so if you have any questions, please ask in the community.

When returning to exercise, paying attention to your body's signals is crucial. I mean, really listen to your body. If you experience any pain or discomfort, it's essential to modify or scale back your workout. Pushing through pain can lead to injuries and pelvic floor issues – I see it all the time in my clinic. Remember, the goal is to regain fitness gradually and safely rather than aiming for quick fixes that could compromise your long-term well-being. I promise you will benefit so much more and truly reap the rewards of your hard work and patience.

From day one, set realistic and sustainable goals. The pressure to bounce back quickly after childbirth is crazy, but it's crucial to prioritise your health over social expectations. Every click on Instagram brings you to another beautiful woman who has regained her pre-baby figure in just one month, and although we should never knock anyone for their achievements, this really isn’t the norm for most women…far from it. And it can often be quite dangerous. The postpartum period is a time of adjustment, both physically and emotionally, so progress at a pace that feels right for you. Long-term success in postpartum fitness is all about playing the long game. Instead of fixating on immediate results, focus on building a foundation of strength and stability. Quick fixes and extreme workouts are not the answer. It’s tempting, but please don’t go down that rabbit hole.

In addition to physical activity, self-care should be a priority during those early months. Adequate rest and recovery time are just as important as the exercises themselves. Listen to your body's signals and give yourself the time needed to heal. Quality sleep (what's that, I hear you say) and relaxation techniques contribute to the postpartum recovery process. If someone offers to step in and give you a break, then grab it with both hands…you deserve it! Childbirth and raising small children are tough.

As you progress in your postpartum fitness journey, consider seeking support from a qualified fitness professional with experience in postpartum exercise. They can guide safe and effective workout routines, ensuring that you're addressing your specific needs and avoiding potential injuries. As part of the pelvic health courses I offer, I guide you through exercises that are not only safe but also enjoyable because that’s what fitness should be: fun. Exercise because you love your body, not because you are punishing yourself for not being ‘perfect’.

Returning to fitness after childbirth is a gradual process. Prioritising pelvic floor health and playing the long game is frustrating, but I promise it will be worth it. Your body has gone through so much, so be kind to it. Be kind to yourself.

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