Many women want to jump straight back into exercise following a caesarean so that they can get back to their pre-pregnancy body – but it’s important to remember that you have to give yourself some time to get over the operation before you get right back into strenuous exercising. The first 6-8 weeks following your operation should be spent with your feet up on the sofa – your body will take a long time to heal and during this time, you shouldn’t really be doing any strenuous activity or weight lifting until you’ve had the all clear from your doctor.
When you’re feeling a little bit stronger, the first exercise the Lose Baby Weight team advise for you to start with would be your pelvic floor. So, when you’re able, start practising your pelvic floor exercises again.
Although it’s common for you to want to stoop after the operation so that you can protect your stomach and your scar, if you stand straight (or as straight as you can) this will go a long way in helping your scar heal safely. Read on for some safe and gentle exercises for you to do post caesarean.
These are gentle exercises that will help to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles. Lie down on your back, either on the floor (using a yoga mat will help) or on the bed. Keep your feet flat and your knees bent. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscle while breathing gently out, then hold for 10 seconds, breathing deeply in and out. Repeat the movement for a couple of times. If you’re unsure of how to squeeze your pelvic floor muscle, practise by stopping the flow of urine when you go to the loo – that’s the muscle you want to strengthen.
Gentle Cardio Exercises
Cardio exercise is great for general health – it will burn calories and it will make you feel much, much happier. When you’re recovering from a caesarean, one of the best exercises to try is walking. You can either go out walking outdoors, or you can walk around your house. 5 minutes at a time will improve your general health and wellbeing and will get you on the way to being able to walk for longer periods of time. When you’ve had your 6-8 week check, and your doctor says it’s okay, you could try other aerobic exercises.
Swimming is a good exercise for new mums as it is gentle and supportive of your muscles – plus, if you’re able to and your scar has healed properly, being in the water will help to soothe and relax you, which is essential for a new mum!
Cycling is another good exercise, but make sure that you feel well enough and fit enough and that your doctor says it’s okay for you to cycle. To start with, stick to flat terrain and cycle for just 10-15 minutes. Remember, it’s always best to start slowly.
When the scar is well on its way to being healed and your doctor says that it’s okay for you to do so, try massaging around the area of the scar. This will improve blood flow, but it will also help to break down scar tissue. In the future, this will promote a flatter tummy – which has to be a bonus! Massaging also helps to get rid of toxins, too.
A gym ball is a gentle and very effective way to tone your stomach. When your scar is healed and you’re fully recovered, just sit on the ball in front of your television. Sitting on it forces your stomach muscles to tense up to anchor yourself to the ball so that you don’t fall off. When you’re able to sit on the ball for a good 15 minutes and you feel comfortable with it, try doing other exercises on the ball such as squats, lunges and push-ups.
What Not to Do
You shouldn’t be doing strenuous exercise on your stomach such as sit-ups and crunches following a caesarean – this could put a huge amount of pressure on your tummy muscles, and your pelvic floor muscles, and it could actually cause problems with your recovery. If your stomach muscles are separated, you shouldn’t be doing stomach exercises. Always speak to your doctor if you’re unsure of what you can do and what you can’t do.
Remember – don’t push yourself. Enjoy spending time with your new baby! Let your body recover from the birth and the operation and enjoy being a new mum. When you’re ready to start exercising again, do so – but make sure that you’re fit, well and able to exercise before you jump right back into it.