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A woman walks down a city street doing a postpartum exercise of walking with a black bassinet stroller.

Postpartum Exercise: 7 workouts to try according to a midwife

When is it safe to start exercising postpartum? And which workouts are good to do after birth? We spoke to Marie Louise, a qualified midwife and mother with 12 years experience, for her advice to new mothers.

Exercising after childbirth can feel challenging and taking care of a newborn is a workout in its own right! But exercise can help strengthen muscles that were weakened during childbirth and even relieve aches and soreness.

Guidelines in both Europe and the US recommend about 150 minutes of moderate activity for postpartum mothers spread throughout the week. Of course, after bringing new life into the world, this doesn’t have to happen all at once. Take things slow, listen to your body – and of course, always refer to a medical professional!

Here are workouts for new moms that Marie Louise recommends to start off slow and build up strength:

  1. Pelvic floor exercises
  2. Walking
  3. Stretching exercises
  4. Swimming
  5. Pilates
  6. Yoga
  7. Deep breathing exercises

When can I start exercising after birth?

In their guidelines from 2020, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explain that some mothers can resume exercise just days after pregnancy. They point out, though, that this depends on the mode of delivery and whether the mother experienced complications during her pregnancy. Since it varies so much from person to person, it is important to start gradually and always refer to a doctor for their professional opinion.

Portpartum exercise - 7 Workouts to try after birth

It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all workout regime that will work for postpartum mothers, since everyone’s pregnancy and labor will be different. As midwife Marie Louise explains,

“Every mother's experience of birth and recovery is an individual journey. Your personal experiences should always be well considered when navigating time frames for exercise. I myself never advise set time frames but some clinicians advise 6-8 weeks.” Marie Louise continues, “Healing and recovery shape a significant part of your postpartum recovery. Physically and mentally, you need the time to heal what your body has been through. If you feel up to it, your recovery can incorporate very gentle exercise.”

As Marie explains, the key is to always to listen to your body.

Pelvic floor exercises

These are exercises like Kegels, squats or glute bridges that can be done immediately after birth. These exercises work your – you guessed it – pelvic floor muscles. These are muscles that control your bladder and bowels, which get weakened during pregnancy. Doing an exercise like glute bridges after birth is an excellent way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles again, without being too intense.



With feet hip-width apart and back straight, bend your knees and lower yourself down as far as you can go. Return to start position and repeat.
Glute bridges

Glute Bridges

Lying on your back with knees bent and arms by your side, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the ground. Return to start position and repeat.


Take a walk with your baby! This is a low-intensity aerobic exercise that will activate you – and give you some much-needed fresh air.

“Exercise does not only look like a HITT workout, walking is a form of exercise and the benefits physically and mentally can’t be overstated,” explains midwife Marie Louise.

For active parents who aim to eventually resume their jogging as soon as the postpartum weeks are over, why not opt for a jogging stroller that can be fitted with a bassinet or an infant car seat? That way, you can use it as a newborn stroller for walks with your baby in the first months, and then switch the bassinet out for the toddler seat to jog with your child when they are old enough (which is usually around six months).

Portpartum exercise - 7 Workouts to try after birth

When you have been given the green light by a doctor, you can even start jogging with your child. When your baby is 6 months old, they can even join you on your local trail in a jogging stroller! Read our tips for more information on jogging with an infant.

If you started out with a jogging stroller with a bassinet or infant car seat, then all you have to do is replace it with a toddler seat. Now you can get running with your child without having to buy a new stroller.


Exercises that work your abdominals are recommended for post-natal mothers. Crunches are a good choice since they strengthen your obliques and even the lower back muscles, which can be sore after childbirth. Drawing-in maneuvers are also recommended, these are exercises where your core is kept contracted and tightened throughout

A 2015 study in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy showed that abdominal exercises like these might be helpful to decrease the instances of diastasis recti abdominus. This is when the widened gap between your left and right abdominal muscles caused by pregnancy make the belly protrude.



Lying with your back on the floor, knees bent, and fingers laced behind your head, engage your core to lift yourself halfway up. Return to starting position and repeat.

Stretching exercises

Soreness after childbirth is common, especially in your lower back, neck and hips. Not only are you doing all the work needed to take care of a newborn, but pregnancy has altered your alignment, tightened certain muscles groups and weakened others. Stretches that target the lower back, chest, neck and hip flexors can be ideal after childbirth. Loosening these muscles can help take pressure of your joints and reduce soreness.

“The spine needs to readjust to the sudden weight reduction and change in distribution as you are no longer carrying significant weight at the front of the body,” explains midwife Marie Louise, “So back, neck and shoulder stretches are a great way to relieve aches, pains and soreness. Massages are also great to reduce soreness and promote healing.”

Marie Louise also recommends laying on the floor with your legs up a wall can help flatten the shoulders and reduce pooling of fluid in the ankles. She notes, however, that you can only do this for short intervals such as 1 minute at a time and if your blood pressure is normal.

Below are some other simple stretches that can help ease soreness.

Neck stretches

Neck stretches

Stretch your neck on either side with the help of your arm.
Kneeling hip flexor stretch

Kneeling hip flexor stretch

From a kneeling position, place one foot in front so that your leg creates a 90-degree angle. Lean forward for a deeper stretch. Switch legs and repeat.
Reclined hip stetch

Reclined hip stretch

Lying with your back on the floor, bend and raise your left leg at a 90-degree angle. Pull this leg towards you with your right arm. Bend your right leg and place it on top, creating a triangle. With the palm of your left hand, push the right leg away from you for a deeper stretch. Switch legs and repeat.


Yoga is another exercise recommended by Marie Louise. Not only does it strengthen your body and help aid spinal realignment, but it is easy to adjust to your strength levels. There are also lots of yoga videos for postnatal mothers specifically, so that you can find the perfect short session to build up strength after birth.

Portpartum exercise - 7 Workouts to try after birth


Another exercise the midwife Marie Louise recommends is swimming. Swimming is a relaxing form of exercise that you can do at your own pace. It’s even an exercise that you can do together with your baby.

It’s important to remember though, according to Marie Louise, that it is not recommended if you still have wounds from labor. The National Health Service of the UK advises that new mothers do not go swimming until 7 days after postnatal bleeding has stopped. Ask your midwife or general practitioner for advice if you are unsure.

Deep breathing exercises

Deep breathing exercises are also recommended by Marie Louise. This can be beneficial for relieving the stress and anxiety that comes with taking care of a small baby.

For the best effects, try deep breathing exercises for 10 minutes or more. The best is if you can find a way to work them into your daily routine.

Sports for dads to do with their babies

With the rollercoaster ride that follows having a new baby, it can be hard for both moms and dads to find a balance between an active life and family life. So maybe combine the two? Staying active with your child is a great way to take care of your health and your baby at the same time. Jogging with your child in a jogging stroller is one option. A stroller with adjustable handle-bars is perfect for taller dads, since it means you won’t be kicking the stroller with each stride.

Portpartum exercise - 7 Workouts to try after birth

Also, going for longer bike trips with your child is possible with a bike trailer. Some multisport bike trailers let you bike with them one day and run with them the next, read our guide for recommendations. Some can even be fitted with a head support system which means that you can start biking with your baby already from sixth months of age.

Article contributor

Portpartum exercise - 7 Workouts to try after birth

Marie Louise
Midwife and mom known as The Modern Midwife online

Marie Louise has 12 years of professional experience as a certified midwife under her belt. She is also a mother of two children. Her goal is to make it easier for mothers everywhere to advocate for themselves by educating and informing. She spends a lot of her time online simplifying daunting medical jargon that can make parenting seem difficult.

Follow Marie @the_modern_midwife on Instagram