Pregnancy and Postpartum Exercise

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It’s a question many new and expectant mothers wonder – is it safe for me to exercise during and after pregnancy?

Staying fit: it’s good for you and the baby

For expecting mothers, there are many positives to exercising throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy. While modifications are sometimes necessary, exercising while pregnant typically gets the green light from the Obstetrics and Gynecology (OBGYN) field.

“There are so many benefits,” says Dr. Lily Hahn, an OBGYN in the St. Elizabeth Physicians Women’s Health group. “It can help you maintain or even improve your fitness, decreases your risk of gestational diabetes, decreases your risk of a cesarean delivery, and promotes mental health.”

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists* (ACOG), a moderate exercise program for 20-30 minutes a day has been proven to be beneficial for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Aerobic and light strength-training exercises are recommended by the ACOG. Contact sports and sports with a high fall risk, such as water skiing or horseback riding, should be avoided during pregnancy.

*source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee Opinion Number 650 (reaffirmed 2017).

Postpartum exercising: listen to your body

Once your baby arrives, it’s a little trickier to determine when to get back into your exercise routine. Dr. Hahn says the mode of delivery – cesarean vs. vaginal delivery – impacts when you are “cleared” to return to exercising. She recommends discussing the specifics with your OBGYN, but in general, women with vaginal deliveries are able to return to light exercise within a few days or weeks of delivery.

Postpartum exercises are able to help new mothers feel more like themselves, giving them both a mental and a physical break from the demands of caring for an infant. It may also aid in weight management and boosting the mother’s overall well-being.

“I recommend easing back into your exercise routine and listening to your body,” says Dr. Hahn. “Start off with a brisk walk, a jog or light weight training. You can slowly add to your routine each day and you’ll be back to your full strength before you know it.”

As always, make sure to discuss any potential exercise plan with your physician before you begin. It’s important to have a physical exam to ensure your planned exercise routine is the right fit for your postpartum body.

St. Elizabeth Physicians: your partner in women’s health

At the St. Elizabeth Physicians Women’s Health group, we offer comprehensive OBGYN services for before, during and after pregnancy, as well as top-notch medical care for each stage of a woman’s health journey, from bone density testing to pelvic floor health and mammogram services.

Some of the services our board-certified obstetricians, gynecologists and certified nurse midwives offer include:

  • Pap smears
  • Breast exams
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Infertility assessment
  • Cancer screenings
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Menopausal counseling
  • Endometriosis
  • Vaginal or pelvic infections and diseases
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Gynecologic surgical procedures

To schedule an appointment or to learn more about the services we offer, please visit St. Elizabeth Physicians.