Post C-section Recovery

Post C-section Recovery
  • How to build strength again post-partum?
  • When can you start exercising again after a C-section?
  • Exercising and breastfeeding
  • Post c-section-friendly core exercises to try at home

How to Build Strength again Post-partum?

When you are pregnant and soon-to-be-mommy, you probably focus on how to stay fit rather than how to regain strength after giving birth. Keeping fit in the last months of pregnancy can be challenging enough. But building up strength post-partum, is a question that I was faced with myself much sooner and in a different way as expected.

I gave birth to our daughter with 28 weeks through an emergency c-section, which was a total surprise to us, family, and friends. It is one thing to become Mommy and Daddy much sooner than expected, and it is another thing to know your little one is healthy. Luckily, our strong girl did very well from the beginning!

In my personal search for information about regaining strength after my C-section, there was little to find on athletic mom’s wanting to start sports again soon after birth. This gave me the motivation to share my personal story, experience and tips with other women looking for knowledge on this topic. Read on for some core exercises below!

When Can You Start Exercising Again after a C-section?

When thinking about exercising again after giving birth, first speak to your doctor, gynecologist, or midwife so they can give you the green light for some safe core work with low impact. Everyone will tell you that in the first 4 to 6 weeks after birth, you should not be doing any form of sports besides walking or some pelvic floor exercises. This is also the advice I followed, even though I felt fine after two weeks.

I did my first easy bike rides and swims again after 4 weeks, and my first run after 6 weeks. And when I did so, these sessions were completely pain-free. It is super important to listen to your body and to take it easy. Even though you are well-trained (I did my last run with 7 months, the day before our daughter was born), you want to build up your sessions gradually again.

Exercise and Breastfeeding

Another question I had was how to deal with exercise and breastfeeding. I noticed that my milk supply was lower for some hours after longer sessions. So, I wondered: is this normal? From my own experience I can say that a short, easy run would not have any impact, whereas a moderate bike ride of 3-4 hours did. The key is to stay hydrated, which is easier during short sessions, and to take it easy.

Another tip I can give is to train with empty breasts. Feed your baby or pump milk before you start. It ensures your little one has food, is happy, and so are you!

What Exercises to Avoid

  • Any moves that lift either your shoulders or both legs off the floor from a back-lying position as they will widen your waistline and hinder core recovery.
  • Eliminate crunches. Every forward flexion bulges the abs and stresses the spine.
  • Avoid twisting with forward flexion.

Core Exercises after C-section

Wall sit
Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, pelvic floor muscles, core, and lower back
Stand with your feet 1 to 2 feet away from the wall.

    1. Slowly lean back toward the wall, lowering yourself into a sitting position. Your hips and knees should be at 90-degrees to one another.
    2. Engage your core. Take a deep breath in and while you exhale, feel as if you’re pulling your belly button into the wall.
    3. For a bonus, contract your pelvic floor by doing a Kegel while holding this position.
    4. Hold for as long as possible. Rest 1 minute, then repeat 5 times.
Woman sitting against wall on a blue mat indoors

Leg slides
Muscles worked:transverse abdominis

Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Wear socks or put a towel under your feet to allow your feet to slide easily on the floor.

    1. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button to your spine without changing the curve of your lower back.
    2. While maintaining this contraction, slowly extend your foot away from your body until the leg is fully extended.
    3. Slowly bring it back to the starting position.
    4. Repeat 10 times on each side. Perform once per day.

Side plank
Muscles worked:
transverse abdominis, obliques, glutes, adductors

    1. Place one hand directly below your shoulder, with your arm in a 90-degree angle on the floor, palm facing down. Place the other hand on your hip.
    2. Lift your hips off the floor with both feet together, facing the side.
    3. Look in front so you don’t strain your neck.
    4. Squeeze your glutes and keep your body in a straight (planking) line from head to feet for 30 seconds.
    5. Switch sides.
Woman side planking on blue mat

Muscles worked:
quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, calves

    1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
    2. Squat down as if you were going to sit in a chair, go as far as your flexibility allows. Make sure you keep your feet flat on the floor, knees pushing outwards, toes not passing the knees, back straight, chest up and neck relaxed.
    3. Hold at the lowest point for 1-2 seconds.
    4. Come up to a standing position by squeezing and recruiting the power from your glutes.

Band pull-aparts
Muscles worked:

    1. Hold a band at approximately shoulder width with palms facing up.
    2. Tighten abdominals throughout the movement.
    3. Keep your arms straight throughout the movement.
    4. Retract your shoulders and spread the band apart.
    5. Pull using your rear delts, not your arms.
    6. Return to start under control.
    7. Do this for 8 to 15 times.