You want to get back to exercise after having your baby but you’re not sure what to do. We’ve got the answer for you. Now that you have had your baby and have moved into the fourth trimester, you may be starting to think about getting active again. You may be wondering how to get back into exercise after giving birth. And what exercise is safe for the postnatal period? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we begin to guide you through safe and effective exercises tailored specifically for postpartum recovery, how to adopt gentle exercise to support your recovery in the fourth trimester and give you an idea of some exercises to begin with.


What is the fourth trimester?

The fourth trimester is the 12 weeks immediately following the birth of your baby.

It is just as important as the three previous trimesters, but the fourth trimester is still not common knowledge!


When can I start exercising again after having my baby?

The guidelines are as follows:

*These are generalised guidelines for returning to exercise depending on the type of birth you had. We recommend you speak to your Doctor to get individualised medical clearance.


You may be wondering what you can do in the meantime, before getting medical clearance. How can you get a head start with postpartum recovery?

Keep reading!


Where do I start when getting back to exercise after having my baby?

The fourth trimester (and beyond) is a delicate time, full of change and challenges. 

The first thing you need to do is manage your expectations.

There is no rush to get ‘back in shape’ after having your baby, and the notion of ‘bouncing back’ after birth is something we do not believe in. Your body has just created, grown, and birthed a whole human being. Bare with it. 

Your expectations need to be realistic.

In the fourth trimester and after giving birth you can start by getting to know your body again and reconnecting with it. 

Instead of jumping right into trying to lose weight or your pregnancy belly, you need to start by addressing your weakened pelvic floor muscles first, and physical activity second.


Postpartum exercises

0-2 weeks postpartum

In the first two weeks after giving birth, you need to prioritise rest completely. This means no deliberate exercise. 

During this time, focus on diaphragmatic breathing to begin connecting with your pelvic floor again.


How to do diaphragmatic breathing, by @DocLizzieDPT


3-4 weeks postpartum

This week, you can start introducing some very gentle movements to your body again. 

Example exercises:

  • Pelvic Tilts
  • Glute stretches
  • Cat cow stretch
  • Side to side controlled knee drops
  • Kegels


5 weeks and beyond

When you hit 5 weeks postpartum, you can start incorporating slightly more challenging pelvic floor exercises

Example exercises:

  • Pelvic floor/pelvis-controlled heel sliders 
  • Kneeling squat with yoga ball
  • Glute bridges 
  • Lying knee raises
  • Kegels


Practise these exercises until you get medical clearance to begin normal exercise again, at the earliest. You may continue these exercises after you get confirmation from your Doctor, too.

Pelvic floor exercises, such as kegels, during the postpartum period can significantly aid in the healing of tears from childbirth

What other exercise can I do after I’ve had my baby?

You can start being physically active by being up and moving around your home but also doing a small amount of walking. 

When you feel ready, you can start by going out for a five to 10-minute walk. There is no pace that you should be aiming for, or trying to make this walk challenging in any way. Walk at your own pace, whatever feels comfortable. 

As you begin to feel stronger and ready for it, you can slowly increase how long you are walking. 


In the first six weeks post-partum, keep your steady walks to under 30 minutes

What to watch out for when exercising after giving birth

  • Pressure in the pelvis
  • Leakage
  • Heaviness in your vagina
  • Coning in your abdomen

Check out this video by @DocJenFit on coning


If you notice any of these when exercising postpartum, it is likely that the exercise is too much for your body right now and you need to modify what you are doing. 


Coning can be a sign of diastasis recti; the separation of abdominal muscles caused by pregnancy

Before you go

The belief that you must do absolutely nothing for 6 weeks after having a baby is outdated and unfactual. That causes more harm than good. 

Recovery from pregnancy and birth begins as soon as the baby is born. 

You absolutely can and should start on your journey to recovering from pregnancy and birth as soon as you feel ready.

It is a slow process and can be challenging for those who are used to exercising with intensity before pregnancy. That athletic brain may kick in, but you must kick it into touch. 

Slow and steady really does win the race during the fourth trimester. 

You might like our article on self-care during the fourth trimester. To read, click here


Where we got our information for this article

Gustirini, R., Pratama, R. N., & Maya, R. A. A. (2020, July). The Effectiveness of Kegel Exercise for the Acceleration of Perineum Wound Healing on Postpartum Women. In 1st International Conference on Science, Health, Economics, Education and Technology (ICoSHEET 2019) (pp. 400-402). Atlantis Press.

Matambanadzo, S. M. (2014). The fourth trimester. U. Mich. JL Reform, 48, 117.

Mottola, M. F. (2002). Exercise in the postpartum period: practical applications. Current sports medicine reports, 1(6), 362-368.

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