What level of exercise is appropriate to start after a c-section?

September 13th, 2018

Courtesy of Shauna Cheshire, RN
Mia Mama Fitness, LLC

BHM synopsis: Curious about how and when to exercise following a C-section? Here are some guidelines and tips to get mom moving.

Being patient and allowing yourself to heal is very critical in the first weeks after recovering from a cesarean section. It does, however, benefit you greatly to get up and move as much as possible. No vigorous exercise is going to be good or helpful until your incision has totally healed, and you are free from pain. Most OB’s suggest a full 8 weeks is required before you are ready to get back to more intense exercise. If you are feeling ready before then, be sure to get with your OB and get medically cleared.

Human bodies are built for movement, and that includes your post c-section body. Getting out for short walks a couple of times a day will help your recovery progress better and you’ll slowly regain endurance as your pain decreases. Getting out of the house can also be a great mental and emotional help. Some moms find a walk without baby is a welcomed break. If you take baby with you pushing a stroller is no problem.

As soon as you feel able, you can start working those core muscles in a very simple way. This can be done safely even just a few weeks after your c-section. Simply pull your abdominal muscles in toward your spine and hold it for several seconds, and let it relax. A few times a day do a set of 6-10 for 5 second holds, and then increase from there as able. This will help you build a good foundation in your core so you’ll be more prepared for vigorous exercise to come. Low back health is directly tied to abdominal strength and endurance, so don’t scrimp here. You want your body to be ready to do future exercise safely and avoid injury.

Be sure to follow instructions from hospital staff and your OB. You may hear all kinds of claims that putting X on your incision will help it heal faster. Please resist the urge to do this unless you’ve been given doctor instructions to do so. All your incision needs to heal properly it to be kept clean and dry, and adequate time. Good nutrition also helps your body heal itself best, so don’t eat junk. Nourish yourself with good sources of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Once you’ve healed and are ready to do more than walking, feel free to ramp it up at this point. This could mean introducing short bursts of increased effort, like breaking unto a jog for a block or two several times during your usual walk. You can also introduce new exercise that requires more effort. Your body is very wise, so listen to it carefully. Push yourself, but not to the point that you feel unwell or unable to talk in short sentences. If you have pain with any certain exercise or activity, stop that particular exercise and try it again in a few weeks. If after a few months pain or other problems interfere with your ability to exercise, let your OB know what is going on.