When Can I Begin Exercising After Having A Baby?

January 3, 2024

Many people who give birth are ‘cleared’ at either 6 or 8 weeks by their medical provider. However, there is often a lot of confusion about what exactly someone is cleared for at that early postpartum checkup. Many people have questions about when they can resume exercising and often interpret that 6 or 8 week checkup as the green light to start their pre-partum exercise routine. 


However, the body has just gone through a multitude of bodily changes associated with pregnancy, labor, and delivery and often needs muscle retraining to be able to exercise safely and without issues that include but are not limited to: pain, urinary leakage, and abdominal separation. Moreover, we know that it is labor itself that is traumatic for the pelvic floor and not the method of delivery (vaginal vs.C-section), meaning that all people who have delivered children have the potential to have pelvic floor issues! 


The healing process extends well beyond the 6 and 8 week marks, but 

1) there is often limited guidance on how to approach exercise and 

2) not everyone gets to see a pelvic floor physical therapist after their pregnancy. 


So, how do you know if 

1) the pelvic floor is healthy and 

2) when to resume exercises? 


Check out the tips below to self-check your body’s ability to stabilize itself, AKA use the deep core and pelvic floor muscles correctly (this is absolutely essential as you start to exercise again!): 


1) Can you contract, relax, and lengthen the pelvic floor musculature pain-free?
When the pelvic floor contracts, it should compress and lift. For folks with vaginas: the contraction should feel like picking up a blueberry with the vagina. For folks with penises: the contraction should feel as though the penis is being drawn toward the abdomen. Do the muscles relax after contraction or are they stuck in the contracted position? Can you lengthen the muscles? Many people have trouble differentiating between pelvic floor contraction, relaxation, and elongation but knowing how to perform each of these movements helps to ensure that the pelvic floor is able to do its job well. 


2) Do you have abdominal coning? 

Abdominal coning is when the abdomen tents/cones/domes up in the middle with trunk movements. Perform a quick check: In lying with the knees bent, interlace the hands behind the head and lift the head and neck. Does the abdomen dome up or stay flat? If it domes, it means that your body is having trouble managing pressure, aka – the core muscles are not contracting enough and/or at the right time to combat the increase in intra-abdominal pressure when the head and neck lift. This can become an issue when we move as we need good pressure management to move pain-free and prevent issues such as urinary leakage and pelvic organ prolapse. 


3) Are you able to perform a single-leg balance for at least 30 seconds? 

If you are unable to, your body may be having trouble stabilizing with its deep core muscles. Over time, this can lead to overloading of other tissues and subsequent pain. 


These are just a couple of things you can do to begin to self-assess the quality of your movement and start asking more questions regarding pelvic health and wellness in the post-partum period. If this self-check-in created more questions than it answered, it may be helpful to contact a pelvic health physical therapist in your area in order to determine what areas would be helpful to work on in order to optimize your health in the postpartum period and beyond!

Check out pelvicrehab.com to find practitioners in your area or come see me at Activcore Princeton!

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Dr. Ashley Newton

Center Director | Physical Therapist
Ashley Newton is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Evidence In Motion Pelvic Health Certified (PHC) practitioner with a special interest in adult pelvic floor issues and yoga-related injuries. She works at Activcore in Princeton, NJ, located just 2 miles from Princeton University.


How Do I Advance my Yoga Practice to get Stronger and More Flexible?

Yoga is a centuries-old practice but oftentimes, teachers have not adapted the style of teaching to reflect the demands of modern day life. If we take a critical lens to the demands of the modern worker, we see more sitting, phone use, and overall sedentary lifestyle than ever before. These prolonged postures have an effect on our muscles and posture in a way that we may not be aware of when we walk into a yoga class.


Coccydynia (Tailbone Pain): Literally a Pain in the Butt

Why does my tailbone hurt when I sit on my once comfy couch? This question may become relevant for many of us during this COVID-19 pandemic.


Men's Health Spotlight: Non-Painful Sexual Dysfunction

June is Men’s Health Month. In the past, our blog has featured articles on men’s sexual health that have mostly focused on pain with sexual interactions. However, what if you don’t have pain with sexual interactions, but you are left troubled or dissatisfied following sex and/or intimacy? Would this issue be categorized as a sexual dysfunction?


Why My ‘Bad Posture’ Could Be A Pelvic Floor Issue

In a time where we are fed article titles that boast ‘best ergonomic chair’ and ‘standing desks for home office’, we have become obsessed with the idea of ‘perfect’ posture and those devices marketed to us to correct ‘bad posture’. But what are we really looking for with these devices and what are we getting out of them?


Dr. Ashley Newton Teaches LYT Yoga® Class for Pelvic Health

Dr. Ashley Newton now teaches a weekly 60-minute LYT Yoga® Class for Pelvic Health via Zoom every Friday morning. This online class is designed to weave pelvic health concepts into the LYT framework. Concepts that are focused on include: coordination of breathing, pelvic floor contraction and relaxation, and core stabilization within the yoga flow.


The Pelvic Floor and Menopause

The average age of onset of menopause is 51 years old. Perimenopause begins in the 40s and continues into the late 50s. Menopause occurs when the menstrual cycle ends permanently due to the decrease in ovarian oocytes as a natural result of the aging process. Given that the pelvic floor tissues are extremely androgen receptive and are a part of the reproductive system, a change in hormonal levels undoubtedly has an effect on these tissues.


SMART Goals for Smart Movement

When you begin an exercise routine, it is helpful to develop a goal for yourself so that you stay on track. When making your goals, keep them simple and SMART. When goals are SMART, they give you the opportunity to make a concrete plan. SMART is the acronym for all components of a well-planned goal.


Is Your Nervous System Constantly Agitated?

We depend on our nervous system to help us interpret the world around us. Our autonomic nervous system is the part of our body that gives us ‘fight or flight’ or ‘rest and digest’ responses. Fight or flight responses are directed by the sympathetic nervous system, while rest and digest responses by the parasympathetic system. However, in our modern day world, this part of our nervous system is challenged in an unprecedented way...


What Does It Mean To Have A Strong Pelvic Floor?

Pelvic floor strength is more than just the ability to squeeze the muscles while waiting in line for the bathroom. Pelvic floor muscle functioning is about a muscle’s ability to adapt and the amount of muscle activity it is able to generate and coordinate. So let’s dive into pelvic floor muscle functioning and adaptability in pelvic floor strength and overall pelvic health. 


The Male Anatomy has a Pelvic Floor?

‍‍Yes! If you have a pelvis, you have a pelvic floor which means that there is opportunity for that pelvic floor to be dysfunctional. The male pelvic floor has two fewer muscles than the female pelvic floor. There's also the prostate. But otherwise, the muscular anatomy is largely the same. Believe it or not, male and female anatomy have the same amount of erectile tissue!


Eating Disorders and the Pelvic Floor

When it comes to disordered eating and body image, the experience is physical as well as emotional. In treatment, one explores and works to change one’s relationship with food, self, others and beyond. Treatments often utilize a team approach and can include a psychologist, social worker, dietitian or nutritionist, and medical doctors. What may not be known, however, is the relationship between eating disorders and pelvic floor dysfunction and how a pelvic floor physical therapist can help.


"Did My Vagina Just Fart?”

Vaginal flatulence, queefing, or farting from your vagina. These are all the same thing and can take you by surprise when you're moving through a yoga class. So what is vaginal flatulence? Is it actually gas like what passes through your rectum? Short answer: vaginal flatulence is when air that is trapped in the vagina is released. It is not created by digestion but rather by air that gets trapped as we move through space.


Don't Let The Holidays Sabotage Your Pelvic Floor

The winter holidays are a special time of year for many. They are filled with family get-togethers, delicious treats, and heart-warming traditions. For as sweet and jolly as this time of year can be, it can also be a sneaky pelvic floor saboteur! Watch out for the following things around the holidays so you can be prepared to keep your pelvic floor happy...


When Can I Begin Exercising After Having A Baby?

Many people who give birth are ‘cleared’ at either 6 or 8 weeks by their medical provider. However, there is often a lot of confusion about what exactly someone is cleared for at that early postpartum checkup. Many people have questions about when they can resume exercising and often interpret that 6 or 8 week checkup as the green light to start their pre-partum exercise routine.


Under Pressure: How Should I Breathe When Lifting Weights?

Intra-abdominal pressure is the pressure within the abdominal cavity created by the interaction between the abdominal wall and organs. This pressure changes with breathing and the resistance from the abdominal wall. When you are lifting an object or even lifting a limb, you increase intra-abdominal pressure.