Post-Pregnancy Exercise: Why 6 Weeks May Be Too Soon

For the past year I have talked all about your pelvic floor and its functions for pregnancy and childbirth. Let’s talk about your body after baby and post pregnancy exercise!
Post Pregnancy Exercise
Photo: Diana Collins

No one needs to tell you that your body goes through a lot during labor with your baby. But it’s still working even after the little one is in your arms. Immediately after delivery, the uterus shrinks temporarily. After about 12 hours, the uterus relaxes back to about the size it was at delivery. At 24-48 hours after delivery, the belly looks about 7 months pregnant, and begins to shrink at a fairly rapid pace over the coming weeks. The uterus returns to its normal size after 6-8 weeks. If the mother nurses, the size tends to return to normal faster. Here is why we should be waiting the full 6-8 weeks to begin modified exercise.

Lingering Hormones:

Hormones that relax your ligaments during pregnancy (relaxin) can stay in the body from 6 months to a year after pregnancy, AND 4 months after you have stopped breastfeeding – whichever comes first.

Connective Tissue (Fascia) Healing:

Our muscles and organs are enveloped by connective tissue called fascia. Fascia is intertwined with every muscle fiber we have, reshaping with our bodies as our babies grow during pregnancy. When we think about “bouncing back” from pregnancy, it takes at least 6 months to a year to fit back into those pre-pregnancy jeans. BUT it takes fascia 6 months to 2 years to go through a complete regeneration, healing old tissue and replacing it with new, vibrant tissue.

So, although you may be able to squeeze into those cute jeans, your deeper parts, the pelvic floor, diaphragm, transverse abdominals, and surrounding fascia may still have a year to go until they’re ready to take on full-force, pre-pregnancy activities such as running a marathon, or other high-intensity exercises that cause a jarring to the body.

Jarring of the Body:

Hardcore and force-inducing workouts take a toll on your healing body. Running at full speed. Cross fit. Box jumps. Mega-reformer. These are a few examples of post pregnancy exercise that jar your recovering muscles, ligaments, and vulnerable insides.

Posture (Alignment) in Everyday Activities:

Pushing a heavy grocery cart, picking up your toddler-or a heavy box, driving or sitting slumped down day after day are examples of how moms can actually cause these issues after pregnancy IF you are not practicing proper mechanics.

Add it all together. The loosening hormones. The stretched out connective tissue. The jarring workouts. The slumping. It can cause physical problems (specifically, diastasis recti and pelvic floor discomfort) even after your child’s first birthday. It’s OK to be active — as if you have a choice. Just be careful.

My next submission will cover safe movements to begin after delivery. In the meantime you CAN-

  • Continue to practice lateral thoracic breathing and hugging the baby/belly.
  • Connect with a Pelvic Floor PT.
  • Schedule a consultation with me so we can begin your journey to lifelong pelvic floor health.

Expecting with Emily


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