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I don’t know how many times I look at my postpartum body and wonder how it will ever look the same as before.
Is it even possible to get back to pre-baby weight and shape?
I know that working out throughout pregnancy would have helped me tremendously and honestly, I regret not taking it more seriously.
However, my problem with postpartum workouts came from a very common yet super destructive thinking: I considered postpartum workouts difficult and something to hate, so I didn’t even get started.
I am still dealing with this struggle, so I can’t say I am already an expert and this is what you should do.
But what if I told you, there are MANY ways I have progressed over the last few years and there are several postpartum workouts that I actually like doing.
Because we all come from different backgrounds and views on exercise, this guide to postpartum workouts includes exercises both for struggling mamas and sporty mamas who love working out.
In this article you will find out:
-what exercises you can safely do postpartum
-how long do you have to wait to exercise after giving birth
-what to look for in a postpartum workout
-why are small steps crucial in working out postpartum
-13 effective postpartum workouts, based on fitness level
The Weight is Over- 13 Effective Postpartum Workouts
The most important aspect of working out postpartum is to consider how long after delivery you are.
You’re going to do different exercises if you’re 2 weeks postpartum vs. if you’re several months to years after giving birth.
How Soon Can You Exercise Postpartum?
This depends on your pre-pregnancy and pregnancy activity level as well as the type of birth you’ve had (vaginal or C-section).
Typically, a C-section recovery takes much longer than vaginal recovery. A C-section scar may be sensitive for months after birth, making it uncomfortable- or downright painful- to do regular workouts.
You can still work out even if you breastfeed, but you may want to wait with rigorous exercise routines till after about 2 months postpartum so you don’t suffer from low milk supply.
However, there is no supportive evidence that physical exercise negatively affects breastfeeding.
Finding what postpartum workouts will be best for you takes patience and acceptance of your new postpartum bod. You have to be willing to experiment and adjust according to your new needs and there’s nothing wrong with that.
What Type Of Postpartum Workouts Can You Do?
Doctors usually recommend waiting until your 6 weeks checkup to start your previous exercise routines and even then recommend easing back into it.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do light exercises when you’re feeling a bit better after surviving your first week with baby.
Stretching, light yoga and taking casual walks are all part of beneficial postpartum workouts that not only help you physically but mentally as well.
What To Look For In Postpartum Workouts?
Typically, you want to make sure that your exercise routine deals with any physical problems you may face after delivery.
For example, diastasis recti is a common problem for many moms and often we don’t even know about it.
Pregnancy puts so much pressure on the belly that sometimes the muscles in front can’t keep their shape. “Diastasis” means separation. “Recti” refers to your ab muscles called the “rectus abdominis.”
This separation of ab muscles can cause a host of problems, including a “mommy pooch” that doesn’t go away, back pain, incorrect posture, etc.
If you suspect that you suffer from it, use this video to check:
Besides diastasis recti, you may also have to consider other ailments, like pinched nerves, overly tight hip muscles or excess weight gain.
All these need to come into consideration when choosing from different postpartum workouts.
You want to avoid routines that worsen your problem (such as regular ab workouts when you have diastasis) and find exercises that heal and strengthen your problem areas.
In case of tight hip flexors or pinched nerves, you may wanna consider stretches that release the tight and painful areas. Yoga is especially beneficial.
If you have gained more than “normal” amount of weight, consider doing low impact exercises or water workouts to reduce the chance of injury to your knees and feet.
Remember, your ligaments, joints, and muscles have all over-stretched or tightened during pregnancy and birth, so it will take special care to bring them back to normal strength and shape again.
Why Are Small Steps Crucial In Postpartum Workouts?
I have been learning a lot about the power of habits when it comes to exercise, and I became a firm believer in 5 minutes of daily exercise vs. 30 mins that I only do every so often.
The reason behind this is that everybody has 5 minutes on any given day and if your goal is only to move your body for 5 minutes, the likelihood of success is very high.
In contrast, a 30-minute workout session seems like a big commitment when you barely have time to eat and shower. So you will probably end up doing nothing at all.
Shoot for 5 minutes and be proud that you did it. If you do more, kudos to you! (and you’ll find that you’ll do much more)
If you want to read about why 5 mins of exercise are better than 30 mins, read this article.
13 Effective Postpartum Workouts
For those who have been given the go-ahead from the doctor, here are some really effective postpartum workouts, keeping in mind every fitness level.
1. Get Your Abs Back
Image credit: Happily Hughes
I love this routine because it’s realistic for postpartum moms. All the exercises are modified so you can be gentle to your body as you get back into shape.
Check out the full routine by clicking on the above link.
2. Heal Diastasis Recti
Video credit: BodyFit by Amy
This is a short and sweet video to work out your core that is especially designed if you struggle with diastasis.
Repairing separated ab muscles isn’t about the intensity of the exercise. It is about how well you engage the deep abdominal muscles so they can pull back together.
You have to keep them engaged the entire time you do these simple but powerful movements. They have definitely helped my body.
3. Bye-Bye Love Handles
Video credit: Fitness Reloaded
Maria has long been one of my most favorite “fitness gurus” because of her down-to-earth approach and habit-focused mindset.
With her, everything is about small steps in the right directions and this yoga routine is no different. She has several more yoga videos on her YouTube channel that I do regularly. Definitely check them out.
Oh, and please don’t even attempt yoga without a good mat. Your carpet won’t do either.
I love my mat so much, no other mat will do. I am probably biased.
4. Post-C-Section Excercise
Video credit: BabyWeight TV
It’s no secret that women want to avoid C-section for various reasons, one of them being the length of recovery.
Abdominal surgery is no small deal and a post-C-section mom has to be very careful of the type and intensity of exercise she does.
In this video, you find a routine you can safely work through after about 4-6 weeks postpartum.
5. Post Natal Rehab
Video credit: The BumpRoom
Another one of my favorite videos for repairing diastasis recti. However, before you move on, it is NOT just for people suffering from chronic abs separation.
Even if you don’t have diastasis, your stomach muscles have stretched and weakened and this workout makes sure you get them back into shape safely and surely.
There are recommendations for modifications as well if you want to do higher or lower intensity.
Check out their YouTube channel to find even more postpartum workouts!
6. HIIT Workout
Video credit: Fitness Reloaded
This is a High-Intensity Interval Training video from Maria, which form of exercise is short in duration but proves highly effective.
The point is that you do a set of exercises for a 20-30second duration as intensely as you can physically manage, take a few seconds to breathe and then move on to another set of exercises and repeat.
Maria has a program called Flat Belly Firm Butt, which is based on HIIT workouts and is super successful.
Read more about HIIT and Maria’s program in this article.
7. Body Weight Cardio
Video credit: BodyFit by Amy
Cardio is one of the most common forms of exercise and you don’t even need to go to the gym for it.
Using this video and your own bodyweight, you can workout in your PJs.
8. Belly Pooch Be Gone
Video credit: Diary of A Fit Mommy
Is there a mom on this Earth that doesn’t have the problem of a belly pooch after having a baby? (in my case, still a problem several years after)
Sia’s body is seriously inspiring (ok, green envy-inducing), though I know she didn’t achieve this by sitting on the couch drinking wine and eating chips.
Check out her workout routine and say bye to belly fat!
9. Pilates and Cardio
Image credit and full workout on: The Postpartum Cure
What’s special about this postpartum workout is that it combines the crucial core strengthening component of postpartum recovery and cardio to bring your heart rate up to burn some calories.
Sounds kind of perfect, don’t you think?
10. Be Mama Strong!
Video credit: Fit Mom Go
Erin is known for her many videos that include kids in the workouts which is perfect when you’re a mom, working out at home.
Her postnatal exercise video keeps in mind new moms who excessively use their backs and shoulders, bending over and holding their babies for many hours daily.
In this video, she focuses on areas we need to work on to be mom strong!
11. Stability Ball Abs Workout
Image credit and full workout on: Vigor It Out
I have never used a stability ball before, but I know moms out there use it for many reasons during pregnancy. Why not stretch the stability ball’s usefulness beyond pregnancy and use it to regain your abs postpartum?
If you have a stability ball already, you will love this exercise routine! (Even if you don’t, grab a stability ball like this one and try it!)
12. Mommy and Me Workout
Image credit and full workout on: Diary of A Fit Mommy
I am all about working out at home and involving the kids. Because I homeschool, my kids are home most of the time and I involve them in whatever I do.
I also think it’s a great example for them to see their mom care about her health, so they are welcome to join me.
This particular workout from Sia the Fit Mommy includes her baby girl! Seriously cute.
13. Elliptical Workout
Image credit and full workout on: Get Healthy U
Especially for postpartum workouts, an elliptical is preferred over a treadmill simply because it is a lot easier on your knees and joints.
Honestly, doing exercise on the elliptical is arguably the most mommy-friendly workout there is.
Why? Cause it requires exactly zero brain power.
I had a space saver elliptical (similar to this one) for the longest time and I just watched TV while doing it. Of course, if you want to get a bit more organized in your routine, you can use the above chart.
And that’s it!
13 effective postpartum workouts you can do in the comfort of your home, with or without your baby, tailored to your fitness level.
Now, all we need is getting rid of excuses.
Let me know it the comments what kind of postpartum workouts do you like?
If you think this post is awesome, share it with your (postpartum) friends!