When is it safe to exercise after having a C section delivery?
Even though the wound is closed, tissue regeneration will still be going on below the surface and like most surgery, 12 weeks is needed to fully rehabilitate. all of he excitement of the new arrival, getting feeding established etc, we must not forget that we are also healing from abdominal surgery so let people do a lot of the non-important stuff!
Its good to start with good breathing techniques straight away to get the diaphragm and pelvic floor moving in sync and set your core system up. You can add in some pelvic floor action at the same time.
Lie down comfortably with knees bent. Rest your hand on your tummy. Take some deep breaths and try to feel your tummy rise on the inhale and fall on the exhale. When you get the hang of this, then gently add in a pelvic floor lift (from back passage to vagina) on the exhale and fully release it on the inhale. You can do some sets of 10 1-2 daily. Then build up the sets and try some pelvic floor holds as you breathe normally.
Walking around the block is the most obvious way to take in some initial physical exercise. Take someone with you the first few times and ask them to use a baby carrier to protect your scar for a few weeks.
from week 2 (if recovery is straightforward and no infections (PS signs of infection and good reason to contact your GP or Midwife straightaway include more redness, swelling, pain or discharge from the scar than before or feeling generally unwell/having a high temperature) you can start to include bodyweight type exercise such as bridging knee rolling in lying and squats.
Low impact activity such as walking uphill, cycling or cross trainer can start from about week 6.
Swimming will need to be week 8 -12 depending on how your scar is doing as it will need to be fully healed and sealed over before introducing swimming.
High impact exercise such as running can be considered from 16 – 20 weeks post C section if recovery has been ok, when you were running until during the pregnancy and if you have been building up some foundational strength and stability during that time.
Running may have to be put on hold if you have leaking, vaginal heaviness or pain (in the scar/lower abdominals or joint pain).
You can test yourself for strength and stability by trying the following (10 reps each with good control)
- balancing on 1 leg (10 secs each)
- forward bounds
- Running man
- single leg squats
- Single leg calf raises
- Single leg bridge
- single leg leg raises on side
If you are struggling to complete, then work on them as an exercise. Also consider doing strength based /low impact postnatal exercise class/program in the interim to allow your body to get ready for the impact.
If you would like a postnatal check to see where you body is at post C section and a guided return to exercise program then get in touch.