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