A combination of cardio exercise and weight training helps women build strong, healthy bodies and clear their minds. You may feel ready to return to your regular exercise routine after your 6-week postpartum check-up with the healthcare provider.

You will still need another six weeks to heal from a typical vaginal delivery. It is recommended that new moms wait 12 weeks before getting back into more intense workouts, such as running or lifting weights.

According to the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports and Exercise Medicine’s 2019 postpartum exercise guidelines, waiting reduces the risk of serious health conditions like hernias, muscle tears, falls, urinary incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse – when a woman’s bladder and uterus droop into her vagina.

The 12-week mark is for women who had a normal pregnancy and vaginal delivery. In the following situations, your doctor may suggest waiting longer:

  • A cesarean section (C-section)
  • Obesity prior to pregnancy
  • Postpartum depression
  • Diastasis recti (improper healing of the abdominal muscles)
  • Excessive scar tissue in the pelvic area
  • Perineal tearing

However, waiting does not mean you cannot exercise. Moreover, staying idle will delay your return to more intense exercise.

Several days after delivery, most moms can start walking slowly to moderately for 30 minutes. Using your body as a guide will help you determine your pace. Ideally, you should be able to carry a conversation or sing a song as you walk.

Why do I need to wait 12 weeks after delivery before I can lift weights?

Two weeks are all it takes for the body to lose endurance and muscle. Regardless of whether you worked out until the day you delivered, you probably stopped during the postpartum period. That period of rest likely resulted in some muscle weakness. Also, it can take up to 12 weeks for muscles, vaginal tissues, and ligaments to heal completely. You will be at greater risk of injury if you jump back in where you left off. The key is to listen to your body and work toward incremental goals in order to recover your muscles and strength safely.

How should I start lifting safely?

It shouldn’t be difficult for you to perform pelvic floor exercises. Additionally, you should be able to do at least 10 squats and 10 deadlifts (with a PVC pipe or broomstick) with proper form and without weight.

Starting with lighter weights and progressing to a weight that is close to what you did previously is the best way to regain strength. When you find yourself unable to maintain proper form, drop the weights and increase the repetitions.

Lastly, you must not hold your breath, which increases your risk of injury, such as pulling a muscle or falling. Moreover, it increases pressure on your pelvic floor, leading to prolapse of your pelvic organs. In order for blood flow to flow freely and oxygen to be delivered to the body, breathing is essential.

We recommend strength training 2 times a week for the first few weeks you return to exercise. Once you start getting into more challenging weights, you may return to your usual routine or have a new routine.



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