Physical Exercise After a Cesarean Section: When to Start?

In the postpartum period, in addition to enjoying and taking care of the baby, many mothers seek to regain their figure. We'll tell you how to get back to exercise after a cesarean section here.
Physical Exercise After a Cesarean Section: When to Start?

Last update: 03 August, 2022

Recovering well after childbirth is the most important thing. However, little by little, you can also start training to improve your condition. In this article, we’re going to tell you when and how you can resume exercise after a cesarean section.

Cesarean delivery requires a surgical intervention. It involves an incision made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.

This means that, unlike natural childbirth, recovery is slower and requires more care. On the other hand, it may also take a little longer to lose weight, since the anterior abdominal muscles have been cut.

After the operation and the birth of the child, it will be essential to have the doctor’s approval to start exercising and minimize the risks.

Starting to exercise after a cesarean section requires patience

After giving birth, it’s normal for a mother to want to look good and think about resuming activity as soon as possible. However, you must be patient, as the time frames are different due to the after-effects of the operation.

The body needs to recover. In addition, you must make sure that the area is well healed before venturing into certain movements.

According to a scientific study carried out in 2021, a cesarean patient’s previous experience of pain isn’t associated with their current activity levels, just as current activity is not associated with future pain scores. These data demonstrate the recommendation to avoid inactivity to aid in recovery following a cesarean section.

cesarean section scar
A cesarean section is surgery. As such, it requires a recovery time that must be respected.

General recommendations

A surgery involves a lot of care for a good recovery. You must go slowly and respect the postpartum period.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to resume exercise after a cesarean section safely and enjoy its benefits:

  • Don’t get discouraged: Keep in mind that it is a process that takes time.
  • If you were in shape before pregnancy, it will be easier for you to recover your figure and your physical condition.
  • Wear compression garments: They can be stockings, girdles, or compression shorts. The essential thing is that you feel comfortable.
  • Start a proper diet: a visit to the nutritionist is a very good idea to elaborate a healthy diet plan plan.

We think you may also enjoy reading this article: What You Should Know About Exercise After Bariatric Surgery

Getting active again is a challenge, as the discomfort you may feel makes it hard to take the initiative. However, it’s important that you start moving little by little.

1. Abdominal breathing

Hypopressive exercises are those in which postures are performed to reduce intra-abdominal pressure. Let’s take a look at the step by step prodecure:

  1. You must lie on your back.
  2. Place your hands on your belly.
  3. Breathe deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. In this process, you have to contract your abdominal muscles.
  4. Repeat the exercise until you complete the series. You can do between 5 and 10 repetitions to start.

2. Walking

In the first days following the surgery, it’s best to rest at home. However, the goal is to go for a walk as soon as possible, as it will also help you to clear your head.

In general, it’s estimated that you can start walking between the second and fourth day after the cesarean section, according to how you feel. It’s recommended to start very slowly and increase the pace gradually.

3. Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises aim to strengthen the pelvic floor and are ideal for bladder control. In addition, they promote blood flow and help you recover from pain and tears you may have suffered.

These exercises can be done like this:

  1. Sit on a chair and rest your feet on the floor.
  2. Contract your pelvic floor muscles, as if you were trying to hold back urine.
  3. Hold the contraction for a few seconds (you can start with five seconds and increase the time gradually).
  4. Finally, take a deep breath and exhale as you relax the contraction.

4. C-section scar massage

This helps with better tissue healing. Do it with the following step-by-step procedure:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Pull the skin around the scar, up and down. Then do this sideways or in different directions.
  3. Try to make gentle movements at first and later, you can make them a little more intense.
  4. If the exercise causes pain, swelling, or bleeding, it’s best to stop.
  5. Consult your doctor before doing this to be on the safe side.

5. Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is one more option when we are looking to regain the functionality of the body. It’s very helpful for healing and will allow greater mobility in the pelvic area, abdomen, and lumbar spine.

It can be started about six weeks after delivery. A 2012 study revealed the effectiveness of a physical therapy program in the post C-section period.

6. Aerobic activities and sports

Getting back to the exercise you love after your C-section will take time. First, you need to strengthen your pelvic floor and abdominal area, and then start doing those higher impact activities.

Here are some of the traditional sports and how long you should wait to get back into them:

  • Gym: It’s advisable to wait until the pelvic area is well healed. You will have to consult with the professional in charge to develop an appropriate routine.
  • Yoga: In the beginning, it’s advisable to avoid certain postures and positions that may cause discomfort.
  • Pilates: Gentle exercises can be done after 40 days. Pilates helps to strengthen the entire musculature.
  • Running or jogging: You have to wait 2 months to go jogging. When you’re ready, this is ideal for weight loss.
  • Bicycling: You can start towards the end of the second month. One option is to start with a moderate static one.
  • Swimming is always recommended. If you like to exercise in the pool, you can also try aquagym exercises or join a class.
cesarean section exercise: swimming
Swimming is one of the first sports you can resume after a cesarean section.

Exercises to avoid after a cesarean section

The exercise to avoid after a cesarean section is high impact. After three months, you will be able to do some of the following activities, but not before:

  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Horseback riding

Recovering from surgery is key to start exercising after cesarean. Strengthening the abdomen and pelvic floor is the priority.

You should always consult your doctor before starting. Outdoor exercise and those that target breathing techniques help to relax you.

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  • Çıtak Karakaya İ, Yüksel İ, Akbayrak T, Demirtürk F, Karakaya MG, Ozyüncü Ö, Beksaç S. Effects of physiotherapy on pain and functional activities after cesarean delivery. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2012 Mar;285(3):621-7. doi: 10.1007/s00404-011-2037-0. Epub 2011 Aug 10. PMID: 21830007. Disponible en: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21830007/
  • Nygaard IE, Wolpern A, Bardsley T, Egger MJ, Shaw JM. Early postpartum physical activity and pelvic floor support and symptoms 1 year postpartum. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Feb;224(2):193.e1-193.e19. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2020.08.033. Epub 2020 Aug 14. PMID: 32798462; PMCID: PMC7855223. Disponible en: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32798462/