Post C-Section Workout
So you had a c-section (well done you!) and now you’re wondering what you can do for exercise (well done you, again!). Whether your caesarean was planned or an emergency, your all important core muscles have gone through a lot, so knowing how to exercise after c section surgery can be tricky.
We are here to help with a post c section workout plan that will help your body during the recovery process and beyond.
But first, let’s not jump the gun.
What happens in a C-Section?
If you’re keen on keeping fit, you’ll probably want to resume working out as soon as possible after your c section. But there are a few things you should know if you don’t already…
Having a c section is major surgery, so do not underestimate the physiological trauma your body has gone through! It is a big deal and it’s not the “easy way out” despite what some people may tell you! There are many reasons, planned or unplanned, that mean you may need a C-Section, so it’s important to understand what is involved.
During a c-section operation, the surgeon makes a horizontal incision just above the pubic bone, through no less than five layers of skin, tissue, and muscle (he derma, or outer layer of skin, fat, fascia, the rectus abdominal muscle and peritoneum) to reach the uterus, the amniotic sac, and your baby.
A transverse (or side-to-side) incision is more common, as this results in less scarring and reduces the chances of infection or complications. A vertical cut is usually now used only in emergency situations and can take more time to to heal, with more scarring.
Your beautiful external bikini scar is horizontal but the inside incision of the abdominal wall is vertical and layers deep. Your internal organs were also moved around and exposed to air during your c section.
During surgery, layers of tissue were cut and then sewn back together. This creates scarring through multiple levels of tissue of your abdominal wall, which affects the muscles’ ability to glide over the top of each other during muscle contraction. The result is weakness and a lack of stabilisation.
If you have had more than one C Section, your abdomen may not have completely repaired before your body went through the whole process of pregnancy and surgery again.
As a result, if you return too fast to exercising after a c section then you can cause some serious harm.
Before you even consider exercise after c section surgery, remember that it takes a good few weeks for things to return to normal. Also bear in mind that the physiological healing time for any body part is around 6-8 weeks. Give yourself adequate time to recover from the only major operation you’ll ever have while being expected to look after a totally helpless human straight afterwards!
While you may be itching to download every post c-section workout plan PDF (or maybe not!), it’s important that you listen to your body and the advice of your doctor and that you only ease into some rehabilitation exercises when you and your doctor feel that you are ready. You can also speak with a postnatal certified personal trainer who can give you an honest assessment before starting.
Exercises to avoid
Before we begin with your plan for exercise after c section, make a note of the following workouts you should avoid until you are completely healed up:
- Crunches, sit-ups, leg raises, and front planks
- Running, jumping, step ups
- Heavy overhead presses
- Heavily weighted exercises
- Anything with direct downward pressure on the pelvic floor, such as a barbell back squat.
Before you exercise to strengthen abdominal wall muscles, make sure you don’t have a condition called diastasis recti ( a condition that causes a gap in the rectus abdominis muscles of more than 2.7 centimetres after pregnancy). While this condition isn’t considered dangerous,it may mean that your fitness instructor recommends modified workouts.
Now that you’ve got those on a sticky note on your wall, let’s make a start on your post c section workout routine:
Lay on your back with your knees bent, taking deep breaths to expand your ribcage. When you breathe out, make sure you exhale completely. This will cause a light contraction of your abdominal wall. As you improve, try straightening your legs until you are completely flat on your back. Repeat this exercise 10 times, twice a day.
Stand with your feet about 3 to 4 feet apart with your hands on your hips. Reach your arms over your head and bend forward at a 90-degree angle, making sure you keep your back flat. Return to the starting position
Do 4 to 8 repetitions of this post c section workout.
For this exercise after c section surgery, you should lie on your stomach with your palms flat next to your shoulders. With your elbows tucked into your rib cage, raise your head and neck off the floor, but not so much that it causes pain or strain on your lower back. Pull in your belly button as if you were trying to lift your pelvis off the floor. Return to the starting position.
Perform this exercise for 4 to 8 repetitions
Lay on your back with your knees bent. Pull in your belly button to your spine to tilt your tailbone up while flattening your back. Relax back down into the starting position.
Repeat this post c section workout 10 times.
Kiss the Baby
Ah, this is our favourite post c section workout (and we are sure it will be yours, too!). Lay your bundle of joy on the floor. On your hands and knees, bend your elbows to kiss your baby. Babies love to watch you go up and down, and you’ll get the reward of a loving kiss each time you do this movement.
Repeat at least 10 times.
Modified Side Plank
To do this exercise after a c section, lie on your side and prop yourself up by using your elbow. Stretch your forearm straight ahead from your elbow, with your palm down. Bend your bottom leg about 90 degrees so that your foot goes behind you and your top leg extends out. Rest your hip on the mat.
Squeeze your bottom oblique and lift your hip up from the floor. Instead of returning to the floor, try moving only a few inches up and down.
Perform this exercise for six to eight repetitions
Lie on your back and lift your knees over your hips, making sure that your knees do not come close to your chest. Place your hands on your tummy or at your sides, wherever feels most comfortable
Drop one foot down to the floor and tap your toes. Immediately lift your leg back up again as your other leg comes down and taps. Use quick exhales to help you maintain control and keep your back on the mat/ floor at all times.
Participating in a post c section workout plan can help you to recover after childbirth, make you stronger and improve your mood.
Regular exercise after you’ve had a baby (whether you’ve had a natural or c section delivery) will strengthen and tone your muscles and raise your energy levels, making you feel less tired.(Yes, it is possible, even with those seemingly endless sleepless nights!) Of course, exercise after c section surgery will also help you to lose your baby weight and start feeling fit again.
How soon you are ready to start exercising after c section surgery depends on your individual circumstances but you should be able to perform some gentle exercises once you have been given the all clear from your doctor.
However, If you had any complications during pregnancy or birth, or you have any existing medical problems, you should speak to your doctor about what post c section workout plans may be safe for you to do.
The right core exercises will help to strengthen and restore the muscles in your abdomen, which will go on to help you to protect your spine and maintain good posture. You need a strong and healthy core for many daily movements including pulling, pushing, standing up, sitting, moving, twisting, bending or turning. Your core is connected to the muscles of your pelvic floor.
During your period as a new mum, you will be experiencing a lot of emotions and post pregnancy body changes. Working out as you once knew it is different and you should not participate in any vigorous exercise until your core has healed.
Just remember that your body is healing so you do not want to jump straight back into a rigorous training program too soon. You can start with the post c section workout plan we have mentioned above, but you should avoid any exercises or movements that cause damage to your healing stomach. Your doctor may recommend you wait for at least 12 weeks before starting any high-impact exercises, such as running. aerobics, and resistance or weight training. Hormones can affect your joints for about 6 months after the birth so start off gently, and be gentle on your expectations of yourself, too.