Written By: Hayley McCurdy, PT, DPT, CSCS


Many moms want to get their pre-pregnancy image back quickly. Let’s take a look at what happens in the postpartum body and realistic expectations and time frames.

A healthy weight gain during pregnancy is an average of 25 to 35 pounds. Here is where that weight comes from:

  • Additional 2 pounds of the uterus as it grows
  • Placenta weights 1.5 pounds
  • Fluid volume is 4 pounds
  • Breast tissue increases an additional 2 pounds
  • Blood volume adds 4 pounds
  • There are 7 pounds of nutrients
  • 2 pounds of amniotic fluid
  • An average of 7.5 pounds for the baby

There is a reason that obstetricians typically request that patients do not get back into their normal exercise routine for 4-6 weeks after vaginal delivery and 6-8 weeks after cesarean delivery. Respiratory changes, hematologic changes, GI system changes, renal changes, uterine changes amongst other changes do not return to baseline until 8 weeks at various levels. The body is also in a healing stage whether from vaginal delivery or cesarean delivery. Lifting heavy too soon can also exacerbate pelvic floor issues and diastasis recti. It is important for newly postpartum women to understand complications that can occur, especially DVT risks and signs and symptoms. Movement is beneficial such as walking, diaphragmatic breathing, and connection with the pelvic floor during this time.

Breastfeeding women will also be burning an average of an extra 600 calories per day just by breastfeeding or pumping. Keeping up with the demands of a normal exercise program and breastfeeding can be difficult but doable.

We also look at issues such as diastasis recti and prolapse which can take an extended amount of healing time before returning to a more advanced exercise routine involving heavy lifting or contact or jarring sports. This is a time when a mom will be going through so many changes in her life and may find it frustrating and difficult to fit in exercise, especially if she was an avid exerciser or athlete before she had a baby. The mental outlook, stress, lack of sleep, varying schedules, and hormones can all factor into increased risk of injuries as well.

Education is key for moms during the pregnancy stage to prepare them for possible setbacks during postpartum and realistic time frames of fully and safely returning to normal exercise and sport. It is important that a structured program is in place and that it is understood how to activate deep internal muscles and create synchronization within those muscles to return to optimal function and performance. Interested in learning more? Be sure to register for my upcoming Summit webinar, Evidence-Based Strength and Conditioning Applications for Pregnant and Postpartum Clients.


Visit summit-education.com for more information.
Campos MDSB, Buglia S, Colombo CSSS, et al. Position Statement on Exercise During Pregnancy and the Post-Partum Period – 2021. Posicionamento sobre Exercícios Físicos na Gestação e no Pós-Parto – 2021. Arq Bras Cardiol. 2021;117(1):160-180. doi:10.36660/abc.20210408