C-Section Recovery C-Sections VBAC Postpartum Care

Postpartum Exercise After a C-Section (with video links)

Workout after your Cesarean birth without incision pain, abdominal discomfort, or fear of popping stitches. There is a right way and a wrong way to exercise. You don't want to damage your fragile abdominal muscles or back.

Part 7 of 9 in the postpartum mental health series.

Keep reading to learn about working-out after a C-Section

This post builds on itself. But if you want to jump straight to a timeframe, here are your options:

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This was originally a Facebook post, but my husband told me it was too long. So, I made it into a blog post. If you would like to learn about the other postpartum mental health tips, join the free C Section Recovery & Beyond Facebook group. For more personalized support, join the Empowering C-Section Mamas online postpartum support group

 

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I am not a medical professional, so please consult your physician before attempting any of these suggestions.

After a pregnancy of modified & reduced exercising and at least 6-8 weeks with low or no exercise (not to mention adjusting to an abdominal scar), exercising can be a daunting task. The first exercise I thought I should do at 6 weeks was a forward plank. I figured it would be low risk and a gentle, full-body way to get back into the habit of exercising. Boy was I wrong. I basically crumpled to the floor, tears streaming down my face, sure that my incision was opening internally and I would never heal.

I did heal and so will you. And luckily, there are many things you can do to make your life easier and safer. Here are things to avoid and things to do those first few months postpartum-

🚫 Avoid these for at least 6-12 months, or until confirmed no diastasis recti 🚫:

Twists like, Russian, criss cross/bicycle crush, windmill, leg circles, etc
Crunches including sit-ups, double-leg lifts, anything with legs and arms in the air with bum on the ground [think “V” shaped], body curls, etc
Forward planks including push-ups
Forward bending while standing, even when you’re picking toys up off the ground. Squatting is best.
Exercising for too long. This changes with how far along postpartum you are.
Anything that causes pain in your linea alba (the line radiating vertically from your belly button)

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How to Ease into Exercise After a Cesarean Birth:

👉 First 6-8 weeks after delivery (before that OB clearance)

Keep it short and sweet. You’re focusing on healing from pregnancy, birth, and surgery. NOT losing weight or getting fit.
Walks (start with 5 minutes and ease slowly upward every week)
Kegels (take slooow, deep breaths as you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles up up up and in during the slow inhale, release during the gentle, slow exhale)
Pelvic drops (take slooow, deep breaths as you push your pelvic floor down down down and out during the inhales [imagine you’re filling up a balloon in your pelvis] then release and relax during the slow, gentle exhales)
– If you want to be an overachiever, use hand weights 2-8 lbs each. (but seriously, give yourself a break).

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Ease into exercise. No longer than 30-45 minutes at a time. Can be a few times a day, but not for long periods of time. Your focus is reconditioning your body to exercise and getting back into good habits, still not losing weight. You may have lost weight pretty quickly, especially if you’ve only had a single pregnancy or two, but some women gain weight while breastfeeding or don’t lose any weight at all. Either way, don’t worry about it. You’re still healing.
Longer walks
Jogging
Leisurely swimming
10-25 minutes of Pilates, yoga, cycling, or other full-body workouts (using postpartum/prenatal modifications and avoiding routines that specifically target strengthening the core unless they are certified postpartum regimen).
Squats
Bridges
Lunges
Pelvic tilts
Single leg lifts
Single toe touches
Arm workouts like single-arm rows, milkmaids, bicep curls, etc
– Other exercises that don’t strain the abdomen or cause pain in your linea alba


👉 Postpartum Exercise at 3-6 months

Slowly increase at your comfort
Running
Swimming laps
Bike riding on level surfaces
25-60 minute workouts (still avoiding “core busting” techniques)

 

 

Ease into exercise. No longer than 30-45 minutes at a time. Can be a few times a day, but not for long periods of time. Your focus is reconditioning your body to exercise and getting back into good habits, still not losing weight. You may have lost weight pretty quickly, especially if you’ve only had a single pregnancy or two, but some women gain weight while breastfeeding or don’t lose any weight at all. Either way, don’t worry about it. You’re still healing.
Longer walks
Jogging
Leisurely swimming
10-25 minutes of Pilates, yoga, cycling, or other full-body workouts (using postpartum/prenatal modifications and avoiding routines that specifically target strengthening the core unless they are certified postpartum regimen).

 

 

 

And here’s another post about diastasis recti, things to avoid, and how to fix it without surgery: braceability.com

👉 Exercising 6+ months After Birth

Woohoo! You’ve made it six whole months and progressed so far. If you know you don’t have diastasis recti (you can’t feel any abdominal separation), you may begin all exercises. Aren’t sure, or showing signs of a sagging belly? Is pretty much everywhere else on your body not noticeably overweight? You may have diastasis recti and should avoid abdominis rectus (your sexy 6-pack area) exercises until you have strengthened the other muscles in your core.

If you are 6+ months postpartum and haven’t been exercising regularly up until this point, follow the steps and pattern outlined above, even if you are way further out than 6 weeks, 3 months, or 6 months. It’s an outline you can still follow. Ease into it. No one was meant to go straight from nothing to athlete. You gotta go through the beginner stages first.

Want some exercise videos to get you started? Try these free ones on YouTube!

 

 

 

 


 

Best Postpartum Yoga Poses:

 


 

Best Postpartum Yoga Poses:

 


 

Join the email list to get 5 free postpartum affirmation cards and stay up to date on postpartum, C-Section, and VBAC tips.

You are an excellent mother.

Lots of love,

~ Kimberly

5 Free Postpartum affirmation cards square image

What you need to know about exercising after a C-Section. Working out postpartum is already stodgy. Add in a Cesarean recovery, and it's downright scary. Here are some safe postpartum exercises and tips on easing into it.


 

Join the email list to get 5 free postpartum affirmation cards and stay up to date on postpartum, C-Section, and VBAC tips.

You are an excellent mother.

Lots of love,

~ Kimberly

5 Free Postpartum affirmation cards square image

What you need to know about exercising after a C-Section. Working out postpartum is already stodgy. Add in a Cesarean recovery, and it's downright scary. Here are some safe postpartum exercises and tips on easing into it.


 

You are an excellent mother.

Lots of love,

~ Kimberly

5 Free Postpartum affirmation cards square image

What you need to know about exercising after a C-Section. Working out postpartum is already stodgy. Add in a Cesarean recovery, and it's downright scary. Here are some safe postpartum exercises and tips on easing into it.


 

 

Join the email list to get 5 free postpartum affirmation cards and stay up to date on postpartum, C-Section, and VBAC tips.

You are an excellent mother.

Lots of love,

~ Kimberly

5 Free Postpartum affirmation cards square image

What you need to know about exercising after a C-Section. Working out postpartum is already stodgy. Add in a Cesarean recovery, and it's downright scary. Here are some safe postpartum exercises and tips on easing into it.


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