Exercise after pregnancy: How to get started
Exercise after pregnancy can help you feel your best. Consider the benefits of exercise after pregnancy, plus ways to stay motivated.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Exercise after pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Follow these tips to safely get started.
Benefits of exercise after pregnancy
Regular exercise after pregnancy can:
- Promote weight loss, particularly when combined with reduced calorie intake
- Improve your cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthen and tone abdominal muscles
- Boost your energy level
- Relieve stress
- Promote better sleep
Better yet, including physical activity in your daily routine helps you set a positive example for your child now and in the years to come.
Exercise and breast-feeding
Exercise isn't thought to have any adverse effects on breast milk volume or composition, nor is it thought to affect a nursing infant's growth. Some research suggests that high-intensity exercise might cause lactic acid to accumulate in breast milk and produce a sour taste a baby might not like; however, this is thought to be rare.
If vigorous exercise is a priority during the first few months of breast-feeding, consider feeding your baby before your workout or pumping before your workout and feeding your baby the pumped breast milk afterward. Alternatively, exercise first and then take a shower, express a few milliliters of breast milk and, after a half-hour or an hour, offer the breast.
When to start
If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, it's generally safe to begin exercising a few days after giving birth or as soon as you feel ready. If you had a C-section, extensive vaginal repair or a complicated birth, talk to your health care provider about when to start an exercise program.
July 27, 2016
See more In-depth
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf. Accessed June 30, 2016.
- Your guide to breastfeeding. The National Women's Health Information Center. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/breastfeeding-guide/index.html. Accessed June 30, 2016.
- Younger Meek J, et al. New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2011.
- Frequently asked questions. Labor, delivery and postpartum care FAQ 131. Exercise after pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Exercise-After-Pregnancy. Accessed July 5, 2016.
- Lawrence RA, et al. Maternal nutrition and supplements for mother and infant. In: Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession. 8th ed. Maryland Heights, Mo.: Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 30, 2016.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 18, 2016.