Getting back in shape after childbirth requires postnatal exercises and the resumption of physical activities.

You can start doing postnatal exercises as soon as the baby is born even if you have had a Cesarean birth. When you return home, you can resume your prenatal routine. Start slowly and regain your strength gradually.


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a. Postnatal Program

Postnatal exercises are just as important as prenatal exercises. Some help your body adjust to the changes brought on by the pregnancy and others help you to return to the pre-pregnant state.

Postnatal exercises will improve your circulation, speed up healing, and restore your muscle strength. Furthermore, postnatal exercises will help your bowels and bladder return to normal. You will recover your energy more quickly and feel better and more relaxed.

The following table summarizes the exercises that you can do during your first week back home. Refer to Section B "A Program for a Healthy Pregnancy" in this module for a more detailed description.

In your second week at home, add the rest of the stretching and strengthening exercises from your prenatal routine.

b. Resuming Physical Activities

It is important to slowly resume your physical activity routine. Start with walking or swimming. If you have had stitches, make sure that they are well healed and that all vaginal bleeding has stopped. Remember that moderation is the key. Listen to your body. If you have any pain or increased bleeding, stop and call your health care provider.

Talk with your health care provider before you return to a favourite sport or activity. Within eight weeks you should be able to participate fully in all your favourite activities.

c. Precautions after a Cesarean Birth

If you have had a Cesarean birth, you can and should begin your postnatal exercises while still in the hospital. When you return home, you can follow the same postnatal exercise program as other mothers with only one exception: omit all abdominal exercises such as curl-ups and diagonal curl-ups until three to six weeks after delivery.