Exercise after a c-section

How soon can you resume exercise after a c-section? René Rodig, a specialist in fitness for new mums, answers questions about working out after a c-section.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – Walking is great exercise after a c-section and fits in nicely with life as a new parent.
Exercise after a c-section: take things nice and slow at first.
Photo: Johnér

First exercise: nice and slow

Regardless of whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or a c-section, you’ll have experienced the same softening of your ligaments and joints during your pregnancy. Your pelvic ligaments become especially soft to allow your pelvis to widen during childbirth. Pelvic girdle pain is unfortunately very common among soon-to-be mums.

Also read! Newborn sleep – facts and helpful advice

Your joints and ligaments will remain soft for some time after you’ve given birth. So René Rodig has a clear message about exercise during your early days as a new mum: Take things nice and slow!

Exercise after a c-section

Get out of bed on the first day if you possibly can. Let a nurse help you the first few times you stand up after a c-section so you don’t clench your stomach muscles. Walk around the room a little, and stand or sit upright for short periods during the first few days. This improves the blood circulation in your entire body and helps to speed up possibly sluggish bowel movements.

The general advice is to do Kegel exercises. It may sound boring and the last thing you want to think about when you’ve just had a baby, but you should really start doing Kegel exercises a few days after giving birth. Ask your midwife for advice or read:

Kegel exercises for new mums – mamifitness® exercise programme

Your c-section incision starts to heal immediately. While this happens quickly at first, it may take several months for it to heal completely. So you should wait at least one month before exercising your stomach muscles – and opt for gentle exercises at first.

Two important points about exercise after a c-section

Allowing your c-section incision to heal properly is René’s first piece of advice. When you gradually start exercising your stomach muscles and the rest of your body, you should not experience any pain or discomfort. If your workout is painful, you should stop completely or try another type of exercise.

Just carrying your baby is a kind of daily workout.

You must remember that although a c-section is a routine procedure, it is still a surgical intervention that requires a period of recovery.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – Exercise after a c-section: avoid heavy lifting while your incision heals. Carrying your baby or a bag of groceries is fine.
Exercise after a c-section: avoid heavy lifting while your incision heals. But carrying your baby or a bag of groceries is fine.
Photo: BabyBjörn

Can everyone carry their baby after a c-section?

Avoid heavy lifting for the first month while your incision is healing. But carrying your baby or a bag of groceries is fine.

So what about using a baby carrier? René replies that this may be more difficult after a c-section than after a vaginal delivery. You need to find a carrying position that suits both you (by not applying any pressure on your incision) and your newborn baby (who you’re just getting to know). There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for carrying a newborn baby in this situation.

A babywearing consultant explains: Babywearing is a wonderful feeling!

“Using a baby carrier works well if the babywearer’s muscles are strong enough. If you don’t feel you can manage it, just carrying your baby is a kind of daily workout,” says René and smiles.

Sources: René Rodig, the Swedish Vårdguiden healthcare website and BabyCenter

René Rodig

Family: married to Doreen and has two children

Lives: Zeulenroda-Triebes, Germany

Occupation: runs mamifitness® with Doreen; is a certified pre and postnatal trainer from Die Akademie für Prä- & Postnatales Training, and a certified babywearing consultant from Trageschule Dresden®.

About mamifitness® and being a babywearing consultant: “When Doreen was pregnant with our first child, she wanted to continue working out during her pregnancy and after our baby was born. But as there was nowhere near us offering prenatal workouts, we soon decided to get the qualifications we needed and started mamifitness®. I am a pre and postnatal fitness specialist.

“Our first child had colic so we carried him a lot. One thing led to another and I eventually trained as a babywearing consultant at Trageschule Dresden.”

Read all our René Rodig articles