It is understandable that new mums are keen to get their bodies back in shape but taking time to recover from pregnancy and delivery is important before getting back into exercise.  If your baby was born by caesarean section this is all the more so.  Your first and foremost priority is to recover from surgery and settle in with your beautiful new bundle of joy.  

 

Whilst caesarean techniques can vary according to individual circumstance,  surgeons  preference  and whether it was a planned or emergency procedure, the fact that it involves a surgical procedure, and opening of the lower abdominal wall means extra care and thought is important in regards to recovery and returning to exercise.

 

THE EARLY DAYS

 

In the early days after a caesarean delivery you will be mostly resting and recovering, with sensible pain management helping you to do gentle activities, commence feeding and bond with your baby.    During this time you will benefit from performing some very simple exercises 3 times per day:

 

Pelvic Floor  exercises  3 long lifts or 5 – 8 quick lifts , will help strengthen your pelvic floor after assist the prevention of incontinence and other problems down the track.

 

Core strengthening.  The deepest abdominal and back muscles support your spine and pelvis and provide foundation strength for all other activities. As soon as it is comfortable you can lightly start to regain their strength and control.  Gently draw your lower abdomen inward and upward and hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Relax and repeat x 3.    Check you are not sucking in your waist or ribs and you breathe normally as you draw in below the navel.

 

Simple foot and leg movements such as waving your feet back and forth x 10 and bending and straightening your knees x 5 on each leg will help maintain healthy blood flow whilst you are resting in bed.  

 

Gentle neck and shoulder movements will also help to minimise neck and shoulder stiffness and post caesarean postural problems:    Sit tall to lengthen your spine, then  roll your shoulders slowly up, back and down x 10 then  carefully roll your head and neck in a small circle 3 times each direction.

 

 

EARLY WEEKS

As the days go on, simply getting up and about and looking after your baby is all the activity you need plus continuing pelvic floor strengthening and neck and shoulder stretches.   Avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a good six weeks or more.

When you are comfortable you can start light walks. Getting out and about with your baby in the pram is great for your mind as well as your body.  Commence with 5 minutes and gradually increase your time within comfort , monitoring your comfort and energy levels.

 

Posture proud

The life of a new mum involves plenty of leaning forward over your baby, at the change table, on the floor and when cuddling or feeding.  This leaves them prone to neck and back problems.  Add to this a subconscious tendency to protect your abdominal wound, women who have had a caesarean are even more at risk of back muscle weakness, strains and associated aches and pains.   To keep your back strong and your posture proud, sit or stand tall frequently and continue your simple neck and shoulder exercises.    

 

Add upper back strengthening to your daily routine.  Sit or stand tall with your fingers resting behind your ears and elbows pointing sideways. Lift your pelvic floor and engage your core then, without arching your back glide your  elbows backwards , focusing on drawing your shoulder blades inwards and down wards.  Repeat x 5

 

In regards to moving on to more strenuous exercise, you are well advised to continue gentle walking and light activities for 12 weeks after a caesarean delivery. 

Then within comfort you may gradually return to low impact exercises, swimming and gentle strength training.

 

Sound healing and strong core muscles are imperative before trying abdominal curls and weight training.   Gentle pilates style core exercises, raising an arm or leg on all fours for example,  are ideal preparatory exercise for weeks prior to ab curls. As a guide to when you are ready , you should be able to engage and maintain pelvic floor and core recruitment before and during any exercise.

 

Most importantly, always listen to your body and know that you will get back in shape …all in good time.

 

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