After having a cesarean birth, you’ve welcomed your little loved one and have spent a few days healing. But you’re craving your pre-baby body, hating that tummy bulge, and keen to rekindle that fitness routine as quickly as possible. And yet, a red flag is flying in your head, asking, ‘when can I start working out after C-section?’
Returning to exercise post-operation can be daunting as too soon, and you’re risking long-term repercussions. Physicians recommend little activity for the first six weeks to give your body time to heal. After that, you can begin with restorative abdominal muscle activation, pelvic floor exercises, and transverse breathing.
It’s easy to underestimate the postpartum physiological trauma your body undergoes after a C-section. That’s major surgery, and you must give the surgical incision enough time to heal. Stay on this article to know when you’re ready, plus the exercise to do while recovering and those to avoid.
Why Should I Not Rush to Resume Working Out After a C-Section Delivery?
A bit more time and care are needed for a C-section delivery than a vaginal one, but that shouldn’t dash your workout hopes. You only have to wait longer for the lower abdominal muscles to heal, and that’s at least six weeks after surgery.
During the delivery operation, your surgeon makes a horizontal incision along your panty line. The doctor can also use a vertical cut in a breach emergency, but it results in more scarring and takes longer to heal. These cuts are deep, going through five skin layers, muscle, and tissue to reach the uterus.
To reach the amniotic sac and your baby, the cut slices through the outer skin layers or derma, fat, the fascia, the rectus abdominal muscles, and peritoneum. With a traverse, bikini, or side-to-side incision, there’s less scarring and fewer chances of complications such as infections.
A C-section creates a belly pooch, plus a fat shelf around the scar, as does a natural birth. This fatty bulge can disappear with six weeks of healing, scar mobilization, and proper core exercises. One and half months postpartum is considered the typical healing time where everything has gone back to its place.
Natural weight loss or losing the pregnancy fat comes rather quickly. After surgery, your uterus goes back to normal with the removal of amniotic fluid, as so does your blood volume, diaphragm, and breast tissue. It’s essential to involve your doctor, who’ll not permit you to start working out if the wound hasn’t healed at the six-month postpartum mark.
What Type of Working out Exercises Can I Start with after My C-section?
Besides the specifics of your C-section delivery, your fitness level will also determine how soon you can start working out. The manner of physical exercise must also be a consideration since you may be experiencing significant fatigue from irregular sleep.
On getting the green light from your health practitioner, start engaging in light exercises to develop core strength. Push your baby stroller or undertake another low-impact workout such as yoga, swimming, or light jogging. You can use a stationary bike or take brisk walks at week six or seven post-operation if you’re up to it.
Gentle exercises that can form part of your sixth-week workout routine include;
Belly Breathing Exercises
Activate your transverse abdominal muscles to retain core strength with deep breathing exercises. Taking belly breaths is also great for relaxation, stress, anxiety, and pain relief. To do this;
- Find a comfortable couch or lie on your bed.
- Relax your body, then place your hand on your belly.
- Take deep nasal breaths, feeling for the expansion in your abdomen with your hand.
- Exhale through your mouth while pulling your belly button towards your spine to contract abdominal muscles. Hold the breathing out for about three seconds.
- Repeat this workout between five to ten times, thrice every day
Pelvic Floor Exercises
These are recommended even during the pregnancy due to their importance in supporting your uterus, bladder, and bowel. Start with Kegel exercises which help your connective tissue fascia connect to the pelvic floor muscles. With Kegels, these tissues are activated and strengthened, decreasing any incontinence associated with childbirth.
To do seated Kegels;
- Start with sitting on the edge of a chair with your feet firmly on the floor.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles, acting as though you’re trying to hold in urine.
- Hold like you’re closing all the openings of your vagina, urethra, anus, lifting them from the chair.
- Relax the contraction by taking in a deep breath and exhaling fully.
- Repeat and hold the contraction for as long as possible, starting with five seconds and proceeding upwards.
You can perform Kegels in other positions, such as lying down or standing up. Take a two-minute rest between each contraction session, eight to twelve times and twice a day.
Pregnancy, your C-section delivery, and breastfeeding can contribute to a bad posture. You can work out exercises that strengthen your abdominal and back muscles to align your shoulders correctly. An entire body isometric workout is the best way to streamline this muscle group.
To exercise your hamstrings, quadriceps, core, lower back, and pelvic floor muscles for correct posture;
- Stand at least one or two feet from a wall.
- Lean back towards the wall and slowly lower your body into a sitting position. Sit with your legs and hip at a 90-degree angle and your back against the wall.
- Take deep breaths in to engage your core and exhale while pushing your belly button back against the wall.
You can combine this exercise with a Kegel while you’re holding your belly button against the wall position. Hold this contraction for about five seconds or as long as possible and then rest for one minute before repeating at least five times.
Besides these initial exercises after two weeks of your C-section delivery, practice light stretches. These should focus on your shoulders, neck, legs, and arms without putting undue pressure on your incision scar. Since you’ve been pregnant for nine months, allow that same time before you can start with the rigorous stuff.
I’m Cathrine and I’m a 39-year-old mother of 3 from Utica, New York. And I’m extremely happy you’ve come to visit my hide-out on the web. Here I post about everything related to family-life and usually it will involve babies and lessons I’ve learned over the years from experts, friends, and my own mistakes. So hopefully you will find what i write fun and informational!