Getting Back to Working Out after a C-Section

Work outI feel like there are two types of people in this world; those that have a baby and are up the next day ready to go, and those that take a while to get there. I was the latter and 4 years later I’m still losing the “baby weight”.

So, if you are one of those people who want to know how soon you can go back to working out, know this, the following will give you a general guideline as to when people can start working out after they have a C-Section, but that’s dependent on your body.

It’s a 100 percent personal journey that only you and your doctor can determine. Starting too soon can result in complications and issues with the healing process.

Take the time to heal, bond, and love your baby, plus find a routine that you can somewhat stick too (easier said than done), and the focus on getting your abs back (or just some core strength in general).

Let’s Talk Initial Healing

Before we get into when you can exercise, we must talk about the healing right after your little one was born.

The first thing they’ll have you doing in the hospital is getting out of the bed and walking around as soon as the numbing medications wear off and the catheter (if you had one) was removed.[1]

This will happen within the first 24 hours after giving birth. The point of getting you up and moving is to get your body fluid and reduce the risk of complications.[2]

Start with Good Nutrition

This is important regardless of when you are starting to workout, but the better you are eating, the better the quality of your breastmilk (if you are nursing) and the better you will also feel.

It’s recommended that after your C-section you’ll want to start off with relatively simple and bland foods until your digestive system is back in order, and then instead of eating junk, start eating the nutritious foods right away.

Make sure your water intake is high (especially if you are nursing) and eating fiber-rich foods can help make elimination easier during the healing process as well.

One of the important parts of eating a diet high in nutritious and healthy foods is that those foods and flavors will make their way to the infant through your breast milk which can help them be more adventurous with vegetables as they get older (the fight to eat vegetables is real folks).[3]

How to Start Working Out

Start with light walking. You can start this before your six-week post-op appointment[4]. You don’t want to go too crazy before that as you could risk the healing process.

There are also some exercises you can do beforehand, to help strengthen the abdominal muscles before you get back into heavy-duty working out.

Belly Breathing

You can use this to relax (which is always nice) and to retrain core muscles. Start out on your back and breathe in through your nose to expand your abdomen and then out through your mouth, pulling your belly button towards the ground, contracting your muscles, and hold for three seconds and repeat at least 5-10 times (and can be done a few times per day as well).[5]

Wall Sit

This works all the muscled in the lower body including your quads, hamstrings, pelvic floor muscles, core and lower back.

Lean against a wall with your feet about 1-2 feet in front of you and then lower down into a sitting position with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

Inhale and exhale while ensuring that your back is flat against the wall (this works those core muscles), and hold for as long as possible. Rest for a minute and repeat 5 times.[6]

Now before you start any of these, give your doctor a call and make sure they approve (plus tell them how you are feeling).

In addition, keep an eye on any additional pain, bleeding, fatigue or swelling if you do start doing these and stop immediately if you notice a negative change.

Then call your doctor and discuss again. Being able to work out is a highly personal activity after surgery and can really depend on the person, and how they heal as well as the severity of the surgery.

After You Get the All Clear

First, even though you get the all clear, go by how you feel and start slow. If you feel ready to hit the ground running, do that but again and a lower intensity than you had before you got pregnant or gave birth to give your body time to get back into the swing of things.

Plus, one thing is that pushing a stroller with a newborn is heavy, they make great workout partners (especially if it’s beautiful outside).

This is not something I am saying as a mom, to take it easy. A C-section is still a surgery and if you think of rehab for other surgeries, it can take months to get back to pre-surgery condition[7] (it did take nine months to get there), and you should be focusing on bodyweight exercises and core restoration (however this also depends on your fitness prior to giving birth).

Nazneen Vasi, PT, stated that even healthy women who appear to feel fine can go back to certain activities at the six-week all clear mark such as running and swimming as well as yoga, but the best time is about three months post surgery, which gives the pelvic floor ample time to heal.

Once you do start getting back into strength training, start as though you are new to the game. Fewer workouts per week (about 2) that include about 20 minutes of strength work and increase that accordingly[8].

It should prioritize resistance band, suspension training, light weights and body weight exercised (which can all be extremely effective).[9]

It’s a Personal Journey

It really is, and while you may feel great a week later (probably not that soon but you might) you still want to give your body that time to heal. You just had major surgery and have a newborn at home.

Give yourself the time to take a break, get into a routine, focus on nutrition, and then start working out. Plus, you don’t want to go too hard too fast, especially if you are nursing, you don’t want to damage your supply early on.

In the same aspect, like I said, you just gave birth. We aren’t celebrity moms, have the money for the chefs and the trainers, and the mommy makeover plastic surgery (okay maybe you do, but a lot of us don’t), so don’t stress it. You’ll get there.

References

  1. Anna Davis via The Bump. What To Expect During Your C-Section Recovery. [link]
  2. See above #1
  3. Stephanie Watson via Healthline. C-Section: Tips for a Fast Recovery. [link]
  4. See above #1
  5. Natasha Freutel via Healthline. 5 Exercises to Help with Your C-Section Recovery. [link]
  6. See above #5
  7. Jessie Mundell The PTDC. Returning to Exercise After A C-Section. [link]
  8. See above #7
  9. See above #7
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