Generally most women can begin a formal exercise program within 6 weeks of giving birth, though this time frame might be slightly longer for some women, including those recovering from a C-section. Most women recovering from a C-section will be able to exercise after there incision has healed and their doctor has cleared them for exercise.
Just how soon you begin an exercise program will depend in part on how you feel. If you had an easy delivery with no tearing and few interventions and regularly exercised prior to birth, you may feel up to some light exercise within 2 weeks of giving birth.
If this is the case, your doctor will probably allow you to engage in some light activities, including walking. Strenuous activity should generally be avoided however until several weeks after birth.
For some women however, even light exercise in the weeks following delivery is not possible. If you had an episiotomy or tore severely while delivering for example, your body may not physically be ready for a formal exercise program for at least 4-6 weeks after birth (note this is also how long most physicians recommend that women abstain from intercourse!).
How soon you begin exercising thus depends on your body and your unique situation. Be sure you consult with your physician before embarking on a new exercise program regardless of your activity level before and during pregnancy.
Lets say that one more time because it is important YOU MUST CONSULT WITH YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF YOU WANT TO EMBARK ON AN EXERCISE PROGRAM. Your body goes through a lot of physical trauma when you deliver a baby. Starting an exercise program too soon will delay your recovery and could potentially injure your body permanently. It may also take you longer than six weeks to heal fully if you start exercising too soon.
Now, if you feel better and capable of working out before you hit the six week mark, dont hesitate to contact your healthcare provider. Most will encourage light exercise including walking, and some may encourage other types of activity particularly if you were active before you got pregnant.
Each and every individual is unique and different, thus their ability to return to a regular exercise routine will vary after delivery. It is important that you listen to your body.