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Why Do You Have To Wait 6 Weeks After Birth To Exercise?

Why Do You Have To Wait 6 Weeks After Birth To Exercise


Why Do You Have To Wait 6 Weeks After Birth To Exercise?

The six-week waiting period after giving birth before engaging in exercise is a general guideline provided by healthcare professionals to allow the body sufficient time to heal and recover from the physical and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and childbirth. This waiting period applies to women who have had a vaginal delivery, while those who have undergone a cesarean section may need to wait even longer, typically around 8 to 10 weeks. The reasoning behind this waiting period is grounded in several important factors:

  1. Healing of Tissues: Pregnancy and childbirth put a significant amount of stress on the body, particularly on the pelvic floor muscles, abdominal muscles, and perineum (the area between the vagina and anus). After delivery, these tissues need time to heal and regain their strength and integrity before subjecting them to the additional stress of exercise.
  2. Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy causes a surge in hormones that soften ligaments and joints in preparation for childbirth. These hormonal changes can persist in the postpartum period, increasing the risk of injury during high-impact exercises or activities that require a lot of flexibility. Waiting a few weeks allows these hormones to return to pre-pregnancy levels, reducing the risk of injuries.
  3. Bleeding and Discharge: After giving birth, women typically experience postpartum bleeding known as lochia, which can last for up to six weeks. Engaging in strenuous exercise during this time may exacerbate bleeding or lead to other complications. Waiting until the bleeding subsides indicates that the body has adequately healed.
  4. C-Section Recovery: For women who have undergone a cesarean section, the waiting period is longer due to the need for the incision site to heal properly. The abdominal muscles and surrounding tissues require more time to recover before resuming exercise.
  5. Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation: The postpartum period is often marked by sleep deprivation and increased fatigue due to the demands of caring for a newborn. Intense exercise during this time can further deplete energy reserves and hinder the body’s recovery process.
  6. Breastfeeding Considerations: If a woman is breastfeeding, engaging in intense exercise too soon may affect milk supply and potentially lead to dehydration. Waiting a few weeks allows both the mother and baby to establish a feeding routine before incorporating exercise.

It is essential for women to consult with their healthcare provider before starting any exercise program after childbirth. Once the waiting period is over and the body has healed adequately, gradually easing into exercise can have numerous physical and mental health benefits, aiding in postpartum recovery, boosting energy levels, and improving overall well-being.

Physical Recovery

Changes That Occur in Woman’s Body During Pregnancy and Childbirth

During the incredible journey of pregnancy and childbirth, a woman’s body undergoes a series of remarkable changes to accommodate the growth and development of a new life. These changes occur both internally and externally, and they play a crucial role in nurturing and sustaining the developing baby. Let’s explore some of the key changes that take place in a woman’s body during pregnancy and childbirth:

  1. Hormonal Shifts: Hormones play a vital role in pregnancy, orchestrating various physiological changes. The levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone increase significantly to support the growth and development of the baby. These hormones help to maintain the uterine lining, promote fetal growth, and prepare the breasts for breastfeeding. Additionally, hormones like relaxin and oxytocin contribute to the relaxation of ligaments, preparing the body for labor and childbirth.
  2. Uterine Expansion: The uterus, or womb, undergoes tremendous changes during pregnancy. It expands from its usual size of a pear to accommodate the growing baby. This expansion is made possible by the stretching and thinning of the uterine muscles and the gradual increase in the number of blood vessels supplying the uterus. The expanding uterus displaces nearby organs, such as the intestines and bladder, leading to changes in digestion and increased frequency of urination.
  3. Weight Gain and Body Shape: Weight gain is a natural and necessary part of a healthy pregnancy. As the baby grows, so does the mother’s body to provide the necessary space and nutrients. In addition to the baby’s weight, a woman may also gain weight in the form of increased blood volume, amniotic fluid, breast tissue, and additional fat stores. The distribution of this weight gain varies among women, but it generally affects the abdomen, breasts, hips, and thighs. These changes in body shape are designed to support the growing fetus and prepare the body for childbirth.
  4. Cardiovascular and Respiratory Changes: Pregnancy places increased demands on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The volume of blood in the body increases to supply oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby. This increased blood volume can lead to changes in blood pressure and heart rate. Additionally, hormonal changes cause blood vessels to dilate, allowing for improved blood flow to the uterus. The respiratory system also undergoes changes to accommodate the increased oxygen demand, with the diaphragm rising higher in the chest to make room for the expanding uterus.
  5. Breast Changes: The breasts undergo significant changes in preparation for breastfeeding. Hormonal fluctuations cause the breasts to increase in size and become more sensitive. The milk ducts and glandular tissue develop, preparing the breasts for milk production after childbirth. The areolas may darken and increase in size, and small glands called Montgomery’s tubercles may become more prominent on the areolas.
  6. Musculoskeletal Adjustments: To support the growing baby and adapt to the changes in weight distribution, the musculoskeletal system undergoes adjustments. The ligaments become more flexible due to hormonal changes, allowing for increased joint mobility. This flexibility, combined with the shift in the center of gravity, can lead to changes in posture and balance. As the pregnancy progresses, the abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the expanding uterus.
  7. Pelvic Changes: The pelvis experiences significant changes during pregnancy and childbirth. The pelvic joints become more mobile to facilitate the passage of the baby through the birth canal. The hormone relaxin, which increases during pregnancy, loosens the ligaments and cartilage in the pelvis, allowing for increased flexibility and expansion during childbirth. These changes, along with the softening and widening of the pelvic bones, create the necessary space for the baby to be born.

These are just a few of the numerous changes that occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy and childbirth. Each change is a testament to the remarkable ability of the female body to adapt and nurture new life. Understanding these changes can help women appreciate the awe-inspiring journey of pregnancy and better prepare for the physical challenges and transformations that lie ahead.

Why It Takes About Six Weeks for the Body to Heal and Recover from Childbirth

After the incredible process of childbirth, the female body requires time to heal and recover from the physical demands it has endured. While the exact duration may vary from woman to woman, it is generally recommended to allow approximately six weeks for postpartum recovery. Here are some key reasons why this timeframe is necessary for the body to heal and regain its strength:

  1. Uterine Involution: Following childbirth, the uterus undergoes a process called involution, which refers to its return to its pre-pregnancy size and condition. Immediately after delivery, the uterus is still enlarged and weighs significantly more than it did before pregnancy. Over the course of approximately six weeks, the uterus steadily contracts, shedding excess tissue and reducing in size. This process is vital to minimize the risk of postpartum bleeding and prevent complications such as infection.
  2. Wound Healing: Depending on the mode of delivery, there may be wounds or incisions that require time to heal properly. In the case of a vaginal birth, there may be perineal tears or an episiotomy incision that need to close and recover. If a cesarean section was performed, the abdominal incision necessitates healing. It generally takes several weeks for these wounds to heal, and allowing the body sufficient time promotes optimal healing, reduces the risk of infection, and minimizes discomfort.
  3. Hormonal Adjustment: Throughout pregnancy, hormone levels in the body undergo significant shifts to support fetal development and prepare for childbirth. After delivery, these hormone levels rapidly decline and readjust to their pre-pregnancy state. The hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone, need time to stabilize and reach a new balance. Waiting approximately six weeks allows for this hormonal adjustment, contributing to emotional stability and well-being.
  4. Physical Recovery: Pregnancy and childbirth place considerable strain on a woman’s body, affecting various systems, muscles, and organs. The body needs time to recover from the physical toll of carrying a baby and going through labor. Muscles that have stretched and weakened during pregnancy, such as the abdominal muscles, need an opportunity to regain their strength and tone. Ligaments and joints that may have loosened require time to stabilize. Additionally, the body undergoes changes in posture and alignment during pregnancy, and it takes time to readjust to a pre-pregnancy state.
  5. Emotional Well-being: The postpartum period is emotionally demanding, with significant adjustments and responsibilities. Taking time for rest and recovery allows new mothers to focus on bonding with their babies, establishing breastfeeding, and adjusting to the new dynamic of motherhood. Allowing the body to heal and recover helps support emotional well-being, reducing stress levels, and enhancing the overall postpartum experience.

By giving the body approximately six weeks to heal and recover from childbirth, new mothers provide themselves with the best opportunity for a healthy and safe recovery. It is crucial to listen to one’s body, follow medical advice, and engage in self-care practices during this critical phase. Each woman’s recovery journey is unique, and it is essential to be patient, and kind to oneself, and seek support from healthcare professionals and loved ones along the way.

Hormonal and Emotional Factors

Hormonal and emotional factors play a significant role in a woman’s postpartum experience. The hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy and childbirth have a profound impact on a woman’s emotional well-being and overall adjustment to motherhood. Understanding these hormonal and emotional factors is crucial for recognizing and addressing the unique challenges that new mothers may face during the postpartum period.

  1. Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy triggers a surge of hormones that are necessary for the growth and development of the baby. Estrogen and progesterone levels increase significantly, supporting the maintenance of the uterine lining and preparing the breasts for breastfeeding. Additionally, hormones such as prolactin and oxytocin are released to initiate and maintain milk production and support maternal bonding.However, after childbirth, hormone levels undergo a rapid decline and adjustment. Estrogen and progesterone levels drop significantly, which can contribute to mood swings, irritability, and feelings of sadness or anxiety. The sudden change in hormone levels, combined with fatigue and the physical demands of caring for a newborn, can make new mothers more susceptible to postpartum mood disorders such as postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.

    Waiting approximately six weeks before engaging in exercise or strenuous physical activity allows for the stabilization of hormone levels. It provides the body with the necessary time to adjust to the new hormonal balance, promoting emotional well-being and reducing the risk of postpartum mood disorders.

  2. Emotional Adjustment: The postpartum period is a time of profound emotional adjustment for new mothers. It is common for women to experience a range of emotions, from joy and elation to feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion, and even sadness. The demands of caring for a newborn, sleep deprivation, and the physical recovery process can all contribute to these emotional fluctuations.Taking approximately six weeks to focus on rest, recovery, and bonding with the baby allows new mothers to prioritize self-care and emotional well-being. It provides an opportunity to establish a routine, seek support from loved ones, and gradually adapt to the new responsibilities and challenges of motherhood. Engaging in gentle exercises, such as walking or gentle stretching, can also help alleviate stress and promote emotional well-being during this period.

    Additionally, seeking emotional support from healthcare professionals, such as midwives, doctors, or therapists, can be beneficial for managing and addressing any postpartum emotional challenges. Open communication with partners, family members, and friends is also essential in fostering a supportive and understanding environment for the new mother.

Overall, hormonal and emotional factors play a crucial role in a woman’s postpartum experience. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and after childbirth can significantly impact a woman’s emotional well-being. By allowing approximately six weeks for the body to adjust to the new hormonal balance and providing time for emotional adjustment and support, new mothers can better navigate the challenges and joys of the postpartum period. It is important to prioritize self-care, seek professional support when needed, and foster an understanding environment that promotes emotional well-being during this transformative time.

Medical Considerations

When it comes to postpartum exercise, there are several important medical considerations that new mothers should take into account. While exercise is generally beneficial for overall health, it is crucial to approach postpartum exercise with caution and seek guidance from healthcare professionals. Here are some key medical considerations to keep in mind before resuming physical activity after childbirth:

  1. Healing from Delivery: The method of delivery, whether vaginal or cesarean section, can impact the body’s healing process. Vaginal delivery may result in perineal tears or an episiotomy incision, while cesarean section involves an abdominal incision. These wounds require time to heal properly, and engaging in strenuous exercise too soon can disrupt the healing process, increase the risk of infection, and potentially lead to complications. It is essential to follow the guidance of healthcare providers and wait until the wounds have healed sufficiently before engaging in higher-impact exercises.
  2. Diastasis Recti: Diastasis recti is a condition that occurs when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy. This separation can lead to core weakness and affect the stability and function of the abdominal wall. Engaging in exercises that strain the abdominal muscles too soon after childbirth can worsen this condition. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or a postpartum exercise specialist to determine appropriate exercises and techniques that promote healing and restore core strength without exacerbating diastasis recti.
  3. Pelvic Floor Health: Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, leading to issues such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. These conditions can be exacerbated by high-impact exercises or exercises that place excessive pressure on the pelvic floor. It is crucial to prioritize the health and rehabilitation of the pelvic floor muscles before engaging in vigorous exercise. Healthcare providers, particularly pelvic floor physical therapists, can provide guidance on pelvic floor exercises and techniques that promote strength and function.
  4. Hormonal and Nutritional Considerations: During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the body has unique hormonal and nutritional needs. These factors impact energy levels, nutrient requirements, and the body’s ability to recover and heal. It is important to ensure proper nutrition and hydration during the postpartum period to support the body’s healing processes. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can help address specific nutritional needs and ensure a balanced diet to support postpartum recovery.
  5. Individual Health Considerations: Each woman’s postpartum journey is unique, and there may be specific health considerations to take into account. Conditions such as gestational diabetes, pre-existing medical conditions, or complications during pregnancy or childbirth may require additional monitoring and guidance when it comes to resuming exercise. Consulting with a healthcare provider ensures that any individual health considerations are addressed, and exercise recommendations are tailored to personal circumstances.

Overall, medical considerations are crucial when resuming exercise after childbirth. Prioritizing proper healing, addressing conditions such as diastasis recti and pelvic floor issues, considering hormonal and nutritional needs, and accounting for individual health factors are essential for a safe and effective postpartum exercise routine. Consulting with healthcare professionals, including obstetricians, midwives, physical therapists, and dietitians, can provide the necessary guidance and support to navigate these medical considerations and promote a healthy and successful postpartum recovery.


In conclusion, the recommendation to wait approximately six weeks before resuming exercise after giving birth is not arbitrary but based on essential considerations for a woman’s overall well-being and optimal postpartum recovery. This waiting period allows the body ample time to heal, adjust, and regain strength after the transformative experience of pregnancy and childbirth.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes significant physical changes, including uterine expansion, weight gain, hormonal shifts, and musculoskeletal adjustments. Childbirth itself can result in various physical traumas, such as perineal tears, cesarean section incisions, and pelvic floor strain. Waiting six weeks allows the body to recover from these changes and injuries, promoting proper healing and reducing the risk of complications.

Moreover, the hormonal and emotional factors cannot be overlooked. Hormone levels rise and peak during pregnancy, only to rapidly decline and adjust after childbirth. This hormonal shift can impact a woman’s emotional well-being and contribute to postpartum mood disorders. Allowing approximately six weeks for hormonal stabilization promotes emotional balance, reducing the risk of postpartum depression or anxiety.

Medical considerations also come into play. Wounds from delivery, such as perineal tears or cesarean incisions, need time to heal properly before engaging in strenuous physical activity. Conditions like diastasis recti and weakened pelvic floor muscles require specific attention and targeted exercises. Consulting healthcare professionals ensures that individual health considerations and potential complications are addressed, allowing for safe and effective postpartum exercise.

Taking the recommended six weeks to focus on healing and recovery provides an opportunity for new mothers to prioritize self-care, bonding with their babies, and adjusting to the new demands of motherhood. It allows for gradual physical activity, such as gentle exercises and walking, which can contribute to increased energy levels, improved mood, and overall well-being.

By understanding and respecting the need for this waiting period, women can lay a solid foundation for their postpartum journey. Patience, self-compassion, and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals are essential during this time. The ultimate goal is to ensure a healthy, safe, and sustainable return to exercise, promoting the woman’s physical recovery, emotional well-being, and ability to care for her newborn.

Ultimately, remember, every woman’s postpartum experience is unique, and individual circumstances may warrant adjustments to the six-week timeline. Trusting the body’s natural healing process, listening to its signals, and seeking professional guidance is key in navigating the postpartum period and embarking on a successful and fulfilling postpartum exercise journey.