During a c-section, multiple layers of tissue and muscle are cut in the abdominal region. The intense trauma to the abdomen requires exercises to rebuild basic function and core strength. Engaging in exercises too quickly may hinder the process of healing. However, it is good to do small movements and easy exercises daily to start building your core strength and ease your body back into a general routine.
Shortly after your c-section, you will be up and walking. The nursing staff will encourage you to walk to the bathroom and possibly even to the nursery to see your baby. While walking isn’t a bad thing to do, you should do it slowly and carefully. In order to support your incision, you can use a pillow to press firmly against your stomach while getting up and walking the first day or two. Walking just a few small steps a day begins to strengthen the abdominal muscles in a slow and natural way. However, you do need to give your body time to rest and recuperate from major abdominal surgery, so don’t take to the track quite yet.
Isometric exercises are exercises that contract the muscles without necessarily moving the limb in any particular direction or position. Being aware and conscious of your abdominal muscles after birth can be a good conditioning exercise. Imagine pulling in your abdomen and making it touch your back. Hold that position for at least 10 seconds and repeat several times throughout the day. You can do this exercise while in any position and you don’t have to worry about causing injury.
Pelvic rolls are good to do during the second or third week after a c-section. By this time, you have built some stability in your abdominal region and will have more energy. To do the pelvic roll, lie on your back with your feet together and your knees slightly bent. Bring your knees up towards your chest very slowly, being careful not to pull on your stitches. In a smooth motion, bring your knees to one side and then to the other using a side to side motion. You should stop immediately if you feel pain or pulling.
Pelvic tilts are a great way to help strengthen your abdominal muscles. Also, it is a gentle exercise and extremely easy to do. The easiest way to do a pelvic tilt is by getting down on all fours, in a hands and knees position. To make sure you have the proper alignment, your hands should be under your shoulders and your knees should be under your hips. Slowly, tuck your pelvis in like you would be tucking a tail between your legs. The only part of your body that should move is your pelvis, leaving your back flat. If it helps, have someone place their hands on your pelvis so that you can concentrate on moving only this part.
Abdominal strengthening can be done after the fourth week. It is more strenuous than the other exercises, so make sure that you feel ready before beginning this. If you are still really sore or are having any problems with healing, you can push this exercise back for another week or so. To do this exercise, lie on your back with your feet together and your knees bent. Slowly bring your knees towards your chest. Lift your head and concentrate on pulling your stomach muscles together. You can use visualization if needed. After you pull your head up, hold for a few seconds and then release. Avoid straining your neck by placing your hands behind your head for support.
As with any general exercise, you should use precaution when doing these. Warning signs that may signal problems include feeling pain at the incision site, increased bleeding after exercising, or showing typical signs of infection, such as fever and chills. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop immediately and contact your health care provider for an evaluation.