Value of Postpartum Fitness

Here are two important facts regarding physical activity following birth:

1. Women who return to vigorous (vigorous, as in jogging or aerobic dance) prior to six weeks postpartum…

  • have less weight to lose
  • experience a more joyful state of mind
  • do better on the Lederman Maternal Adaptation scales (how well they adapt to motherhood)

…than women who are sedentary during this period (Sampselle, 1999…this is not new information)

2. Postpartum obesity is a dangerous short and long term health risk (Leddy, 2008).

Who should exercise and when, following birth?

Day 1: If you have a vaginal birth, begin your “body scan” the first chance you get. Within the first day, the first chance you get to focus on yourself, take a mental trip through your body. See if you can squeeze the kegel muscles. Try exhaling and sucking in your deep abdominal muscles. Note if your shoulders need to relax. Take some deep breathes and begin to help your body recover.

If you had a cesarean: Wait a few days to 2 weeks at most to work on this.

After that: As soon as you can, get up and walk around. Start walking in 5 or 10 minute strolls several times a day (ask someone to hold or watch baby so you can allow your body to recover a non-pregnant upright). If you had a cesarean, hold a pillow to your abdomen until you have control of your abdominal muscles and stand tall.

How can you get more information on this?

Go to our website:

Find a class. If you had a typical birth and your baby has been slowly and safely exposed to new people, by four to six weeks you and baby should be ready for a structured activity session that includes baby. It will also provide focus and adult interaction during the week.

You have to teach your abdomen to be flat.
How do you know if you did too much?

Your lochia, or the bleeding/discharge from the placental site, will increase if you have been too vigorous. If you are healthy and have no anemia issues, your lochia will likely cease by three to four weeks, six at most.

What are safety issues?

Don’t exercise if you have a fever, a warm red spot on your leg that may be painful (or not), or sore nipples that need attention. Call your care provider. If you or your baby are sick, it is best not to go into a group setting. If your baby is not well or just doesn’t seem right, call your pediatrician.

The most important reason to join a mom-baby fitness program may be that it will help keep you sane.