Fenix Fitness The Best Postpartum Exercises for a Safe Recovery

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a new mother feeling overwhelmed and anxious about motherhood, let alone returning to exercise after birth. We know how life-changing an experience it is to become a mother, and FENIX is here to support you along your postpartum recovery journey and return to fitness.

In this article we will cover:

  • How soon can I return to exercise as a new mum?
  • What exercises can benefit me and why are they important?
  • What if I’m struggling with urinary and constipation issues?
  • What approach to nutrition can aid my postpartum recovery?

How Long Should You Wait Before Returning to Training?

You may be eager and motivated to get started as soon as possible, but it’s best to resume exercising gradually, and to do so ONLY after getting the green light from your obstetrician (Agarwal, 2021).

It also depends how active you were during your pregnancy, whether you had an uncomplicated pregnancy and natural vaginal delivery, or a caesarean section.

Generally, you should NOT be doing any strenuous movements or exercises for the first six weeks of your postpartum period. Prioritise rest and recovery.  It is important to first focus on rehabilitation of your body before actually working towards fat loss and regaining your pre-pregnancy weight and figure, after going through childbirth.

You can, however, begin with gentle stretching two weeks after pregnancy, and start walking at a comfortable pace, for up to 10 mins once or twice a day. After four weeks, if you are comfortable, increase your walking duration to about 30 minutes each time.

Image adapted from Singapore’s Physical Activity Guidelines (Health Promotion Board & SportSG, 2022)

From the sixth week onwards, you might be able to return to full body strength training sessions to rebuild core and pelvic floor strength, and to restore mobility in the joints, but ONLY with clearance by your doctor.

Depending on your energy level, you may want to schedule 2-3 sessions per week. FENIX is a safe and empowering space for women and we have postpartum programs which we will tailor to your unique needs. To find out more, visit our women’s health and fitness page here.

TLDR; It depends on each woman’s individual case. Always consult your doctor before returning to exercise or beginning a new fitness routine, especially if you’ve had a caesarean delivery, or a vaginal delivery in which you experienced perineal tears, or other complications.

What Type Of Strength Training Exercises Can Benefit Postpartum Women?

Postpartum strength training can help new mums regain their strength, energy, and overall health after childbirth.

Some examples of postnatal strength training exercises include:

  • Hip flexor stretch to improve the mobility of hip flexors
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) to help improve muscle tone and continence
  • Bodyweight glute bridge, squatting and hinging exercises which will strengthen your lower body safely and will indirectly strengthen your core muscles

Here are some tips for you to ease back into strength training:

  1. Start with low-impact exercises
  2. Gradually increase intensity and duration over time
  3. Focus on rebuilding core and pelvic floor strength
  4. Use bodyweight or lighter weights to prevent injury

It’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard while strength training after pregnancy. You should always consult a medical professional before starting any new exercise routine.

What Are The Benefits of Postpartum Strength Training?

Here are some of the physical benefits of postpartum strength training:

1. Improves pelvic floor function:

The pelvic floor muscles play an essential role in supporting the pelvic organs and controlling bladder and bowel function.

Symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor can include: urinary incontinence, urgency or increased frequency, stool and gas incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (when one or more organs slip down into the vagina)

Symptoms of pelvic floor tension can include: constipation, painful intercourse, pelvic pain, inability to empty your bladder completely and painful urination

Strength training exercises which target the pelvic floor muscles, such as Kegels, can help improve your pelvic floor function. Kegels involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles repeatedly, and studies have shown that they can be effective in reducing symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction (www.ETHealthworld.com, 2023).

2. Builds muscle:

Strength training can protect your lean muscle mass, which improves your overall body composition and health, while you are losing the weight gained during pregnancy

3. Improves bone density:

Strength training can also help improve your bone density, which can be important for new moms who may have experienced bone loss during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

4. Boosts metabolism:

Strength training can also help increase your metabolism, which means you’ll burn more calories even when you’re not working out.

Postpartum strength training also brings emotional benefits:

  1. As a form of very important ‘me-time’ which new mums really need, and it promotes social interaction (Roy, 2014)
  2. Reduces stress and anxiety: Exercise releases endorphins, which can help improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety, which can be particularly important for new moms if you are experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety.

Ultimately, postpartum strength training improves your quality of life:

  1. Enhances your overall fitness: By incorporating strength training into your fitness routine, you can work on a variety of muscle groups and improve your overall fitness level, which can help with everyday tasks.
  2. Decreases risk of developing future chronic health conditions: You are less prone to chronic illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes, as postpartum strength training helps you to lose fat, and rebuild bone density and both muscle volume and most importantly, strength.
  3. Improves your self-image: You will find that it takes time to rebuild your body, strength and health. Be kind to yourself. With ongoing strength training, your self-esteem will also slowly improve as you gradually return to work or general life post pregnancy.

TLDR; There are many physical and emotional benefits to postpartum strength training as you adjust to motherhood.

How Can Your Nutrition Can Aid Postpartum Recovery?

A healthy and balanced approach to nutrition is crucial to aid postpartum recovery. The body undergoes significant changes during pregnancy and childbirth, and it requires proper nutrition to heal and recover effectively.

Here are some approaches to nutrition that can aid postpartum recovery:

  1. Ensure sufficient calorie intake: During breastfeeding, your body requires additional calories to produce milk. Be sure to meet your body’s needs. Aim for healthy, nutrient-dense snacks, such as nuts, seeds, and fruits, to help boost your calorie intake.
  2. Eat a balanced diet: Include a variety of foods from all the food groups as this is essential for postpartum recovery. Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet.
  3. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is crucial for postpartum recovery. It helps flush out toxins, aids digestion, and can prevent constipation.
  4. Consume enough iron: During pregnancy, your body needs extra iron to support the growth of the baby. After childbirth, you may experience iron deficiency anaemia. Consuming iron-rich foods, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fortified cereals, can help restore your iron levels.
  5. Consider dietary supplements: Most of the nutrients that are needed during pregnancy remain important during the postpartum period, particularly for those mothers who are breastfeeding. Supplementation of vitamins such as B12, D, calcium or omega-3 fatty acids may be necessary if you are likely not getting enough of these nutrients if you are vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant or do not have sufficient exposure to sunshine (Colega & Chong, 2022). It is recommended to get 500mcg (0.5mg) of folic acid every day while breastfeeding. According to research, folic acid is crucial to a baby’s brain development (National Library of Medicine, 2022). Babies get folic acid from breastmilk, so it is important that you have enough folic acid while breastfeeding (Brittingham, 2023). It is recommended that you check with your healthcare provider for recommendations on multi-vitamins.
  6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Both can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and they can also dehydrate you. Avoiding or limiting your intake of these beverages can also help support your postpartum recovery by helping you to sleep better.

TLDR; It’s essential to remember that postpartum recovery is a gradual process, and it may take several months for your body to fully recover. A healthy and balanced approach to nutrition can help you regain your strength and energy.

Our FENIX Coaches thoughtfully design programs for you, provide you with expert care and guidance, and create an inclusive space for you to work out in. The majority of our Clients are women and the majority of our Coaches are too.

They have an intimate understanding of how women experience working out in a gym and if you’re looking for postpartum health and fitness support, book your FREE consultation and Fit3D scan today.

This article was produced by Cherrell Ng with contributions by Coaches Johanna and Joshua.

Works Cited

Agarwal, A. (2021, March 27). Exercising after Giving Birth. GEH.

Brittingham, E. (2023, March 24). Folic acid while breastfeeding: Why it is important. BellyBelly.

Colega, M., & Chong, M. (2022). Postpartum nutrition – your road to recovery. HealthHub.  

Roy, B. A. (2014). Postpartum exercise. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.

Folic acid. National Library Of Medicine. (2022).

Health Promotion Board, & SportSG. (2022). Singapore Physical Activity Guidelines.  

www.ETHealthworld.com. (2023, February 11). Resistance training helps to reduce risk of stress urinary incontinence: Study – et healthworld. ETHealthworld.com From The Economic Times.  

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