How Soon Can You Start Exercising After Giving Birth?
According to new guidelines, you might be able to start working out just days after having a baby.
New moms used to be told to sit tight for six weeks after having a baby, until their doc gave them the green light to exercise. No more. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently declared that "some women are capable of resuming physical activities within days of delivery" and that ob-gyns should, in the case of an "uncomplicated vaginal delivery, counsel patients that they can begin or resume an exercise program as soon as they feel able."
"We're not telling women, ‘You better get out there,' but we're saying it's totally fine to do what you feel up to," says ob-gyn Alison Stuebe, M.D., an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Before, there was a sense of, ‘Go home, and don't get out of bed.'" Feeling good is the key factor when choosing "fourth trimester" exercise, Dr. Stuebe says. (Related: Fit Moms Share the Relatable and Realistic Ways They Make Time for Workouts)
Ready to get moving, but you don't know where to start? Try this circuit from Pilates pro Andrea Speir, the creator of the new Fit Pregnancy Plan workout digital series. Start with three days a week and work up to six. "The moves will give you endorphins," Speir says. "You'll feel ready to take on the day after, not depleted." (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Running with a Jogging Stroller, According to Experts)
Illustrations: Alessandra Olanow
Benefit: "Side planks focus on tightening the deep abs without the downward pressure on the belly," Speir says. (Here's more on how to master the side plank.)
Try it: Lie on floor on your right side, legs stacked, torso propped on right elbow. Lift hips so body forms a line; reach left arm up. Hold for 30 seconds (shown above). Switch sides; repeat. Work up to 1 minute per side.
Benefit: "This lateral cardio has less up-down pressure on your pelvic floor than jogging."
Try it: While standing, take a big step right with right leg and sweep left leg behind you, bringing left arm toward right (shown above). Quickly step left with left leg, bringing right leg behind, right arm across. Alternate for 30 seconds. Rest 10 seconds; repeat. Do 4 intervals. Work up to three 1-minute intervals.
Benefit: "This strengthens your hips and glutes to help support the lower back."
Try it: Lie on floor on right side, head resting in right hand. Bend knees 90 degrees in front of you and lift both feet together off floor. Open knees to create diamond shape with legs (shown above), then close. Do 20 reps without dropping feet. Do 3 sets.
Benefit: "This classic opens up those tight belly and back muscles."
Tryit: Begin on floor on all fours. Inhale as you arch your back, and gaze forward. Exhale as you round back and bring head into chest (shown above). Do 10 reps.