Getting Back in Shape

Physical activity helps you return to your pre-pregnancy shape and weight. After birth, your pelvic floor and abdomen (stomach area) need special attention. The following exercises tone and strengthen these areas.

Activity After Delivery

You can usually start these exercises within a few hours after a vaginal birth. If you had a cesarean birth, you should start more slowly. Ask your doctor when it's safe for you to start exercising.

Walking

Most doctors recommend that you get out of bed and walk within a few hours after giving birth, even after a cesarean birth. Walking helps circulation and improves bladder and bowel function. This helps prevent bladder infections and constipation. Walking also strengthens the abdominal muscles.

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises help your pelvic floor muscles regain muscle tone and shape, prevent leaking of urine when coughing, laughing, or sneezing, and lessen hemorrhoid problems.

Abdominal Exercises

At first, repeat each exercise only a few times. You shouldn't feel tired afterward. If you feel tired, you're doing too much. Start out slowly following these steps:

More Exercises After Delivery

The following exercises are listed from the easiest to the hardest. You can do the first three — deep breathing, head lifts, and pelvic tilt — right after delivery.

Deep Breathing

You can do this while standing, sitting, or lying on your back. Have your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Head Lifts

This exercise helps prepare your abdomen for more strenuous exercises.

Pelvic Tilt

Start by doing this exercise lying on your back with your knees bent.

Exercises to Start at Home

Wait until 10 days after delivery before you start the curl-ups and knees-to-chest exercises.

Knees-to-Chest

Straight Curl-Ups

Diagonal Curl-Ups

From the "Birth Day News" series.


Clinical review by Jane Dimer, MD
Group Health
Reviewed 03/01/2014