Ask A Pro

Q

I plan to walk to get my exercise after having my baby. How many days after birth should I wait to exercise? And when can I return to running?

 
A

After giving birth your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles are stretched out from the weight of your baby and excess fluid. Therefore, Kegel exercises and pelvic tilts should be resumed days after delivery to help support internal organs, specifically bladder and uterus as the uterus takes 6 weeks to return to its normal size. Generally most women can begin a light exercise program that includes walking and gentle abdominal exercises, within 2 weeks if you had an easy delivery with no tearing and few interventions and regularly exercised prior to birth. For some women however, even light exercise in weeks following delivery is not possible. If you had a cesarean birth, episiotomy or tearing, your body may not physically be ready for a formal exercise program for at least 6 weeks after birth. Exercise will help you regain muscle tone, lose weight and have more energy. Walking is a good choice for exercise as it can get you and your baby some fresh air. Although you may be anxious to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness level, it generally takes 6 weeks for hips, pelvis and connecting muscles to realign. Gentle and progressive exercise can hasten the restorative process and prevent long-term posture problems. It is important that your back, pelvis, and connecting muscles return to their proper alignment before resuming vigorous regular exercise. Chronic pain and incontinence can result from premature sessions of running, stepping and weight lifting with misaligned posture and increased joint laxity. Consult your obstetrician or physical therapist on more specifics on when it is physically and medically safe to begin exercise.

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