Postpartum Return to Activity Guidelines

Returning To Activity After Birth

  • Participating in sports, running or other high-impact activities too early after childbirth may actually reduce pelvic floor muscle strength and contribute to long-term bladder and bowel problems and/or pelvic organ prolapse symptoms.
    • Returning to jumping, running or bouncing type activities too quickly can strain the pelvic floor musculature and ligaments that are still stretched postpartum
    • After delivery, no matter how fit or toned you are, it takes a minimum of 8 weeks for soft tissues and your abdominal muscles to heal to support your lower back and pelvis
      • There is no way your abdominal muscles can go from being overstretched during pregnancy to being shortened and firm enough to provide good support for your back and pelvis without time and safe postnatal abdominal exercises
      • It may take 3-4 months for hormonal changes of pregnancy (primarily relaxin) to decrease (this affects the ligaments that support the pelvic organs)
    • Steady progression of postpartum abdominal bracing and pelvic floor exercises are important to improve the strength and tone in these muscles

Postpartum exercise guidelines

  • 0-3 weeks postpartum
    • Walking
    • Postpartum abdominal muscle bracing
    • Gentle pelvic floor muscle activation
  • 3-8 weeks postpartum
    • Walking
    • Low impact aerobics
    • Low intensity water aerobics or walking in the water (forward, backwards, sideways)
    • Light weight lifting making sure you maintain good breathing (exhale on the load; don’t’ hold your breath)
    • Postpartum abdominal muscle bracing
    • Pelvic floor strengthening exercises
  • 8-12 weeks postpartum
    • Gradually increase intensity and weights with exercises above
    • Pelvic floor safe exercises
  • 12-16 weeks postpartum
    • Visit a Pelvic Physical Therapist for postpartum abdominal and pelvic floor muscle assessment before returning to high impact exercise, running, sport or abdominal strengthening exercise program
  • 16 weeks postpartum
    • Return to previous activity IF you are not experiencing back pain, vaginal heaviness or urine loss during or after exercise



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