Return to exercise and activity after birth

Exercise may be last thing on your mind after your delivery but there are several benefits that could help with your post-natal recovery. These include:

  • Improving mood
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving fitness
  • Improving sleep
  • Increasing strength
  • Reducing the risk of post-natal depression
  • Maintaining healthy weight

Pelvic floor exercises

  • It is essential you start pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible after you have had your baby.
  • You can start your pelvic floor exercises after you have gone for your first wee and your bladder is functioning. If you have a catheter in, wait until this has been removed and you have been able to pass urine.
  • Start exercising your pelvic floor muscles 3 times a day after the birth of your baby. This should be within 2 weeks of delivery, but you can gently start activating the muscles as soon as you feel comfortable after the birth, even if you have had stitches.

This video is available with subtitles in other languages.


  • It is important to note that everyone will recover at different rates so listen to your body
  • Start with gentle exercise as soon as you are able.
  • The current recommendations in the UK are to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week, with resistance exercise (muscle strengthening) twice a week.
  • It is important that you stick to low-impact exercise for the first 3 months after birth.
  • If you wish to return to running or other high-impact exercise it is recommended that you return between 3-6 months at the earliest


When to seek help?

If you return to exercise and notice any of the symptoms below, please reduce the intensity of your exercise and contact your GP to be referred to Pelvic Health Physiotherapy or use the self-referral form.

  • Heaviness/dragging sensation in the pelvic area
  • Urinary incontinence (leaking wee) or faecal incontinence (leaking poo)
  • Pendular/bulging abdomen or noticeable gap along the midline of your stomach
  • Worsening pelvic or lower back pain

Physical activity for women after childbirth

*click the image above to open a larger copy in a new tab