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The benefits of training after pregnancy

Getting back to exercising after pregnancy should be treated like getting back from an injury. Yes, your little one caused you some harm… And just like with any other injury, there are ways to optimize healing and return to normal functioning faster, with specific postpartum strength and conditioning.

The biggest benefit of postpartum group training is that you are able to return to your previous fitness level quicker. Other benefits include:

  1. Gaining back your pelvic and core strength with specific exercises. Many women may not experience pelvic problems directly after birth, or even at all. However, as women are now having children at an “older” age (Eijkemans et al. 2014) some studies suggest that having children at such an age can be considered a risk factors of developing pelvic floor disorders 5–10 years as postpartum (Handa et al. 2011).
  2. Postpartum training aids in attacking the deconditioned/“unfit” feeling that a lot of mom’s experience postpartum. We all know that exercising can give you an energy boost and that it be a stress reliever. Thus, progressively working on your cardiovascular endurance as tolerated will be beneficial to getting you back to where you want to be (Liu et al. 2020).
  3. The whole thing…the pregnancy period, the pregnancy its-self and then the postpartum recovery is a lot and presents itself with a lot of challenges. Eventhough physical activity may be the last thing on your mind, it has been shown to be one of the most beneficial activities for pregnant and postpartum women in helping reduce fatigue, increase quality of life, mental acuity, physiological well-being and postpartum depressive symptoms (Peralta et al. 2021). Group classes, in which you are surrounded by by likeminded moms who are also trying to get after it, provides a huge support. 

The general advice to start exercising postpartum is 3–6 weeks, and 8–10 weeks after a c-section (power mama source). Depending on how trained you were before your pregnancy and whether or not you trained during your pregnancy, you can progressively start working with your breath, pelvic floor contractions, core stability and coordination exercises, and back to strength and conditioning. All at your pace. Some mom’s need more time than others, and this is ok. Even though there are “general guidelines” it is normal to deviate from these guidelines.

What does it look like returning to activity/sports postpartum? (Selman et al. 2022) 

3-6 weeks postpartum: 

  • Start exercising when you have gotten the OK sign from a professional, most likely your gynecologist. 
  • You can progressively start working on the strength and coordination of your pelvic floor. Preferably under guidance of a professional such as a pelvic floor physiotherapist, whom will be able to take objective measurement of the strength and quality of your muscle activation to develop a personalized program. 
  • Avoid jumping and running, even if you feel fit. Your connective tissue is only still holds about 50% of its tensile strength compared to its strength pre-pregnancy, which puts you at a higher risk of injury.

3-4 months postpartum: 

  • Start to increase your training volume to what it was previously. 
  • You may start training your rectus abdominal muscles, but only if you are able to co-contract the deep abdominal muscles and do not see a “dome” formation. 

6-9 months postpartum: 

  • Return to sport! Just be aware that your connective tissue needs 6-9 months to completely return to its original tensile strength. 

Some of the commonly made faults returning to exercising postpartum are (Selman et al. 2022): 

  • Returning too quickly to lifting the same weights as before. Six weeks postpartum, the tensile strength of your connective tissue is only 50% of what it was before your pregnancy. Three to four months postpartum the tensile strength of your connective tissue it is 75%, and after 6–9 months it is back to 100%. 
  • Doing ab exercises such as crunches, sit-ups, and planks. A rectus diastase (a thinning of the connective tissue between your rectus abdomens, “your abs”) is normal and necessary. However, you do not want to prevent it from healing or becoming worse by creating too much inter abdominal pressure that stretched the tissue out even more. Therefore, it is important that you learn how to activate your deep abdominal muscles, that you can prevent this over stretching of the linea alba.
  • Trying to lose the extra (healthy!) weight and therefore doing things such as jumping rope, running or other high impact exercises. A baby… has gone through your pelvic floor and it, you need to also give yourself the time to heal your pelvic floor and then learn how to have control over that body part again.

The best thing to do is to ask for help when you need it. So when you want to get back into training, but have no idea where to start, start by contacting a trustworthy person. 

We will be starting a Barbell and Baby class on the 20th of April. This class will not only be a convienece because you can bring your baby, but will also focus on getting you to be the best fit mom you can be!

Any questions?

Read more about me here!

P.S. I would love to see you in my new Babies & Barbells class.


Eijkemans, M. J., van Poppel, F., Habbema, D. F., Smith, K. R., Leridon, H., & te Velde, E. R. (2014). Too old to have children? Lessons from natural fertility populations. Human reproduction (Oxford, England)29(6), 1304–1312.

Evenson, K. R., Mottola, M. F., Owe, K. M., Rousham, E. K., & Brown, W. J. (2014). Summary of international guidelines for physical activity after pregnancy. Obstetrical & gynecological survey69(7), 407–414.

Handa, V. L., Blomquist, J. L., Knoepp, L. R., Hoskey, K. A., McDermott, K. C., & Muñoz, A. (2011). Pelvic floor disorders 5-10 years after vaginal or cesarean childbirth. Obstetrics and gynecology118(4), 777–784.

Liu, N., Wang, J., Chen, D. D., Sun, W. J., Li, P., & Zhang, W. (2020). Effects of exercise on pregnancy and postpartum fatigue: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European journal of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology253, 285–295.

Peralta, L. R., Cotton, W. G., Dudley, D. A., Hardy, L. L., Yager, Z., & Prichard, I. (2021). Group-based physical activity interventions for postpartum women with children aged 0-5 years old: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. BMC women’s health21(1), 435.

Selman, R., Early, K., Battles, B., Seidenburg, M., Wendel, E., & Westerlund, S. (2022). Maximizing Recovery in the Postpartum Period: A Timeline for Rehabilitation from Pregnancy through Return to Sport. International journal of sports physical therapy17(6), 1170–1183.

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