Part 2: So, you are “cleared” for exercise after baby. Now what?

5 Exercises to Avoid in the Early Postpartum Period

I get this question all the time. "How soon after giving birth can I exercise?" Well it depends on what you are defining as exercise. There are few things you can do right after delivery through the 6 or 8 week mark when you are officially cleared that I will cover in a future post. This post is focused on the after 6 or 8 week postpartum check-up where your doctor “clears” you for exercise.

The first 4 months after having a baby matter the most in building a solid base. Spend this time working on rebuilding your strength from the inside out and avoid exercises that put additional pressure downward on your recovering pelvic floor like jumping, or outward on the mid-line of your abdomen like sit-ups. In the first post of this series I shared some signs that your postpartum workout is too much, too soon. I don’t like to be a negative Nancy and create any fear around movement but there are some exercises that can exacerbate these symptoms that I would recommend avoiding until you have built your foundational strength and can do them without the symptoms mentioned previously.

Here are 5 exercises I suggest to avoid:

  1. Running!– Running within the first 4 months after giving birth can put added stress on an already strained pelvic floor potentially resulting in or exacerbating a prolapse or incontinence. Even after 4 months if you haven’t done what is needed to rebuild a strong pelvic floor and deep core muscles, leaping back into running could still result in these things. If you have any symptoms like leaking, pressure, feelings of heaviness, or back pain then you probably aren’t ready to train for that first after baby 5k.

  2. Plyometrics (jumping jacks, box jumps)– Same as running, these high impact exercises put pressure downward and outward on weak and injured pelvic floor muscles and deep core muscles. Best to avoid until you have done the work to rebuild this strength and connection.

  3. Planks or Burpees– I’ve got a theme going here. Planks and burpees can create additional intrabdominal pressure. Intraabdomiwhat? Basically when you don’t coordinate your breath and movement you create pressure that pushes down and out on the pelvic floor and rectus abdominus – creating or exacerbating diastasis recti, pelvic floor symptoms or even hurting your low back. You need to first work on your breath and coordinating the muscle activation through your core to manage this pressure correctly.

  4. Ab flexion against gravity (Sit-ups)– I know ladies you want to get rid of that baby belly or pooch and it seems like sit-ups would be the exact way to do that, but in all honesty doing these too soon and incorrectly can actually make that pooch worse, exacerbate a diastasis recti and cause harm to your low back. Part 3 of this blog series will give you a better place to start in flattening out your tummy.

  5. Hot anything (Hot Pilates, Hot Yoga, etc)– Working out in a heated room relaxes your muscles and ligaments which may seem like something you want given how tight and sore you are from breastfeeding and baby carrying. But you will still have the hormone relaxin surging through your body, especially if you are breastfeeding, creating laxity and instability in your joints. Adding the heat in these exercise can create additional instability resulting in injury particular in shoulders and hips. Best to do these exercise without the heat.

I hear you, “But Caitlin I need to lose this baby weight!” Well first of all, NO! You don’t! That’s a conversation for another time. Remember you just created life inside your body and then brought that life to the outside world through your body and now you are feeding and caring for that life with your body!

If you are in a group class that includes any of these moves and you are in the early postpartum period consider skipping or modifying until you no longer have symptoms. You will be able to progress back to these things when the time is right. But only after you create a solid foundation from the INSIDE OUT!! I don’t want you to focus on postpartum exercise for weight loss. I am a movement educator so I do want you to move though so in next week’s post I will share some better exercises to start with instead.

Getting back into exercise doesn’t have to be scary or cause injury. Contact me at www.consciouscorepilates.comto help guide you back into exercise and safely rebuild your strength after having a baby. We offer semi-private postnatal Pilates classes as well as private sessions and duets. And bonus, babies are welcome to join you!

Move better. Feel better. Live better.

XO –

Caitlin Hatzenbuhler

Owner and Pilates Instructor

Conscious Core Pilates

2222 2ndStreet Suite 12

Livermore, CA 94550

Phone# 925-667-1071

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