Exercise after Pregnancy up to 8 weeks

Exercise after pregnancy for the first 8 weeks? Lets go over a few points that will help set you up for success!

When is it less safe to start your return to exercise after pregnancy in the first 8 weeks?

In order to return to exercise after pregnancy safely for those first 8 weeks, you want to ensure you are no longer bleeding, experiencing pain throughout your day, having a lot of discomfort passing a bowel movement, feeling unstable through your midsection or experiencing pain even when lifting your baby.

Let your body take a little longer for healing. Giving birth to your baby is a traumatic event that takes a big toll on your body. You don’t need to hurry back to fitness if you aren’t ready…it will be there waiting for you, when you are ready.

How do you know if you have done too much?

Doing too much exercise after pregnancy?
When you have done too much exercise after pregnancy
  • If you experience pain during or after your exercise, you have done too much. I’m not talking about feeling ‘muscular’ pain. When you are using muscles in ways you haven’t done lately, they will let you know, and this is completely expected. But, if areas of your body are sore that you didn’t work, then you have done too much. 
  • Had you stopped bleeding, but started again once you began your return to exercise? You likely worked too hard. Remember that you won’t start exercising exactly where you left off before you became pregnant. And this holds true for even the most fit women out there!!! You still need to start back slowly because your body has changed a lot and is continuing to change. 
  • If you experience more heaviness within your pelvis than before you started, you are doing too much and/or not engaging your deep core muscles properly…but more about that in a moment.

When you return to exercise after pregnancy, what should you wait a bit longer for, during those first 8 weeks?

No running during first 8 weeks after pregnancy
No running during the first 8 weeks after pregnancy

For the first 6-8 weeks, it is best to not do any impact activities. This includes running, high intensity workouts, etc. I know, I can already hear the hard core fitness enthusiasts yelling, but remember:

This is only for now, not forever

When is it safe to start exercise after pregnancy?

If you aren’t experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms and you have been given the green light from your GP, you are most likely ready to start your fitness postpartum regime!

A couple of things to keep in mind…do you have a prolapse?

If you are experiencing feelings of pelvic heaviness or a feeling that something might fall out of you, you may have a pelvic organ prolapse.

Don’t worry as this is very common and super manageable.

For now, stay away from:

  • impact
  • wide legged postures

Focus your work on doing the deep core exercises I’m going to go over. 

Do you have a diastasis?

You can check. If you lay on your back on the floor, place your fingers horizontally across your belly above your belly button and right in the centre. Lift your head up away from the floor.

Can you sink your fingers into a gap? If so, how many fingers can you fit crosswise? How deep do those fingers sink in?

We still use the 2 finger rule. If you can fit more than 2 fingers crosswise, this is considered a diastasis. When you look at your belly, do you see any peaking or doming at the centre when you lift your head? When this area lifts up or pooches upwards a bit, this is considered a diastasis. 

Don’t worry as this is very common and super manageable.

For now, do not do any of the standard core exercises like:

  • sit ups
  • crunches
  • planks

What to do with a diastasis

Make sure you are doing the deep core exercises I will be going over shortly. Once you know how to properly engage your core muscles, you will use them before changing position or getting up and down as this will remind your body that you want those muscles to work and support you.

If you are going to lay down on your back, always engage these muscles first, then lie down on your side before lying on your back and reverse this when getting up. This helps protect the diastasis while it is healing. 

Let’s get going…What kind of exercise are you going to start with after pregnancy in those first 8 weeks?

When you feel ready, and this could be at 2 weeks for some women and at 6 or 8 weeks for others, you begin with these 2 main exercises:

  1. pelvic floor muscle contract/release exercises 

In supine or sitting, gently draw your pelvic floor muscles up and in

Picture something, like:

  • Stopping passing gas and stopping the flow of pee
  • Closing your rear and front elevator doors and going up to floor 3
  • Gently drawing up a blueberry

No holds at first; just contract and then release; and make sure you feel the letting go as well as this is super important

10x, 2 sets, twice daily

*** If you aren’t sure if you can feel your pelvic floor muscles moving, then check out this post and video to help you along ***

2. Transverse abdominis engagement exercises

In supine or sitting, inhale and allow your ribs to move out to the sides of the room and your belly to get a little bigger

Exhale and initiate the blowing of air out with your lower belly (below your belly button) drawing in

10 breaths, 2 sets, twice daily

To see it in action, check out my video on youtube

Walks throughout the week is a gentle and practical way to get your body moving and if you are lucky enough to be close to some trees, even better! Forest bathing, walking in the forest, is such a great way to get our endorphins firing so we feel renewed!

Can I progress these exercises after pregnancy in those first 8 weeks?

Yes you certainly can! 

1.After 1-2 weeks of working on your initial exercises, progress by holding your pelvic floor muscles on for a count of 3, fully release and repeat. You can add 1 second of hold time every 1-2 weeks. As long as your hold is solid with no flickering on and off for a week, you are good to add on 1 more second each week. 

2.For your transverse ab exercise; as you draw in your lower belly, also draw up through your pelvic floor. This may already be happening, and that’s great. But, if you aren’t sure, intentionally add in that Kegel while you are blowing your air out and drawing your lower belly in. This way, you are combining the parts of your deep core together. 

To see this in a video…

Add in some gently rolling hills during your walk, increase your walking speed or go for a longer walk.

Exercise Integration

If you feel ready to do some body weight exercises, this is a great time to integrate your deep core muscles. 

  • Always exhale on the harder part of a movement because that is when you need the most support.
  • Always engage your deep core muscles as you exhale.
  • Engage = exhale, lower belly draws in and pelvic floor lifts up


Squat; inhale to squat down, exhale and engage your core to come back up

Bicep curl; exhale and engage as you bend your elbow

Before you pick up baby, draw your lower belly in and lift up with your pelvic floor

In this 6-8 week time period, it is best to do either body weight exercises or use light weights.

For example, if you were using 20 pound dumbbells prior to pregnancy, then start back with 5 pounds. It may sound light…well, it is light…but, it’s a great place to start.

Your biceps weren’t really used that much when you were giving birth to your baby, so I’m not as concerned about hurting your actual biceps; but, curling heavier weight before you are ready does create a certain amount of force through the rest of your body. And that’s why I want you to start lighter and progress slowly.

If you would like even more help to keep you doing your deep core exercises, check out my online program


Check out my next blog showing you how to exercise safely in 8-12 weeks…

The most important thing always is to listen to your body! 

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