Exercise After A C-Section Facts for Every Mama
It is important you know how to exercise after a c-section and when you should start. It is also vital you are aware of what activities, movements and sports you can do, and which ones you must avoid.
Before you leave hospital, your treating health care professional (doctor, midwife) should give you information on exercises that will help you recover from your cesarean section (c-section). The problem is that I know this only occurs in about 10% of the cases. Or, maybe less.
And fair enough.
Midwives are not prenatal or postpartum exercise experts. But hopefully they should recommend someone who is an expert as your postpartum recovery involves participating in an appropriate program.
So You Had Your Baby By C Section.
Having a C Section is a major surgery. Please do not underestimate the physiological trauma your body has undergone, and don’t let anyone make you feel like it’s no big deal or an easy ride.
Why is a C section a major surgery?
The surgeon makes a horizontal incision just above the pubic bone, through five layers of skin, tissue, and muscle to reach the uterus, the amniotic sac, and your baby.
These layers include: The derma, or outer layer of skin, fat, fascia, the rectus abdominal muscle and peritoneum.
A transverse or side-to-side cut is more common, as this results in less scarring and chance of infection or complications. A vertical cut is usually now used only in emergency situations and can be slower to heal, with more scarring.
If you have had a C Section, there will be scar tissue. This is where the connective tissue is laying down and binding, to repair and heal. The process can result in tightness or pulling sensation around your scar.
What Does This Do to Your Belly?
Layers of tissue are cut and then sewn back together, which creates scarring through multiple levels of tissue of your abdominal wall.
This scarring affects the muscles’ ability to glide over the top of each other during muscle contraction. The result is weakness and a lack of stabilization.
If you have had more than one C Section, then your abdomen may not have repaired completely 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.
If you participated in a regular prenatal fitness training program which had a focus on core strengthening; then you will be starting with stronger abdominal muscles will help with recovery.
By strengthening the deep muscles of your core and pelvic floor during pregnancy will give you the ‘muscle memory’ to make it easier to do the exercises after the birth.
Does Massage Help Scar Tissue?
Yes, but the right type of massage. Massage can help relieve this and aid comfort and healing. What you need to do is to rub and massage the skin gently between your fingers around the scar. This will aid in the break down of the scar tissue.
Exercise After A C-Section Can Help with a Speedier Recover
I know first-hand that participating in a postpartum exercise program will help you recover after childbirth, make you stronger and improve your mood.
Regular exercise after you’ve had a baby will strengthen and tone your muscles and raise your energy levels so you feel less tired. Of course, it will get you back on track to losing baby weight and feeling fit again.
I get it.
You’re tired and not feeling motivated. And how soon you’re ready to start exercising depends on your individual circumstances. But please, dedicate some time right now to looking after your health and wellbeing.
Once given the all clear, you should try to start moving when you are able to get out of bed. Your first goal is to start with gentle walking as this will help you recover from your surgery.
What if you had Complications?
If you had any complications during pregnancy or birth, or you have any medical problems, your doctor or physiotherapist will advise you what exercises after a c-section you can or cannot do.
Pelvic floor exercises after a c-section
If you participated in my PregActive for Pregnancy program, then you would have been doing your pelvic floor exercises every week. And this should be paying off right now as you have strengthened your pelvic floor muscles.
After your c-section, you can start to exercise your pelvic floor once your catheter has been removed and as soon as you feel ready. The primary purpose of these exercises is to help strengthen the muscles that support your womb, bowels and bladder. This may help you manage any problems with leaking urine.
Abdominal exercises after a c-section
These exercises will help to strengthen the muscles in your abdomen. This will help you to protect your spine and have good posture.
Please avoid any planking or those dangerous old traditional sit-ups. Yes, I still see some trainers online getting their clients doing these. But they will only do you more harm so please avoid them.
The type of exercise after a c-section is what matters most.
You do not want to jump straight back into a rigorous training program. Your body is healing and recovery postpartum so you need to respect that.
You can start relaxation session that consist of appropriate postpartum exercises and movements. But avoid any ballistic exercises or movements that cause damage to your healing stomach.
If you are not sure, then wait until you’ve had your 8 week postnatal check with your GP before returning to your pre-pregnancy levels of exercise. And to be honest, for your first 12 weeks you should only participate in postpartum exercises. Going hard too soon must be avoided.
Avoid any high-impact exercises, such as aerobics, running and resistance or weight training.
Once you have recovered from your c-section and no longer have any pain, it is usually safe to start low-impact exercises, such as swimming, postpartum Pilates, yoga, light jogging and low resistance gym work.
Low-risk exercise for mamas
The following exercises are suitable in the days after you have your baby:
1. Postpartum yoga
4. Swimming and aqua aerobics (once the bleeding has stopped)
5. Low-impact aerobics
6. Light weight training
Exercise after C Section 0-6 weeks
During this life-changing period you will be experiencing as lot of emotions and post pregnancy body changes. During this period, you should not be doing any high-impact intensive exercise. You should be focusing on your breathing and re-connecting your brain to your tummy and your pelvic floor.
The Importance of Core Exercises
You need your 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. And as you know a strong pelvic floor will help to prevent you from wetting yourself or having a prolapse.
Core Exercises for Diastasis recti
You need functional core muscles to help heal and close the separation of your abdominal muscles.
I recently wrote a post on postpartum workouts you can read here >
The takeaway about Exercise after a C-section
Performing the right abdominal and pelvic floor exercises are beneficial following a cesarean delivery.
To increase strength and stability in the core muscles, try breathing exercises, isometric contractions, and exercises that target the transverse abdominis. Regaining strength gradually will help you return to doing the activities you love with ease.
PregActive for Mamas
Now is the time you want to have trust in your body to function the way it should. No more embarrassing leaks or discomfort.
You can have it with my medically endorsed 12 week PregActive for Mamas online recovery program.