Abdominal Exercise After a C-Section

"Can you do abdominal exercise after a C-section?", asked my friend Rebecca, the day before her elective ceasarian -- of course you can!

Just take it easy.

Rebecca had expected to give birth naturally, but as her baby turned late in her pregnancy she had to deliver via C-section.

She'd got her postpartum exercise routine sorted, but needed a last minute re-think.

A C-section is a major operation that requires an extensive incision along your abdomen.

As a result, your stomach muscles are cut completely through and stitched back together again.

Such extensive damage takes a while to heal!

However, many new mums don't realise that they can exercise their abs right up to and immediatley after their C-section.

First off, check with your doctor and midwife as there may have been complications that require some extra recuperation time.

However, assuming everything went well, you can get started straight away with strengthening your abdominal muscles.

Abdominal Exercise After a C-Section - The First Few Weeks...

Assuming you did as advised, you'll have been doing pelvic floor exercises all the way through your pregnancy.

In particular Kegel Crunches, which are easy to do.

  • Contract your pelvic floor (not your abs or rectal muscles) muscles
  • Hold for 3-5 seconds
  • Slowly release, relax and repeat
  • Work up to 20 repetitions
  • Try and do a set of 20, 3-4 times a day
  • As your strength increases, try and hold each contraction for a count of 10
  • Check with your doctor, but these shouldn't cause your healing abdominal muscles or stitches a problem.

    You can also do isometric ab contractions. Simply contract your abs gently - stop if it hurts - and hold for as long as you can.

    Abdominal Exercise After a C-Section - Four to Six Weeks After Birth...

    Once your stitches have healed and your doctor has given you the all clear, you can start on some isotonic abdominal exercises, like crunches.

    Remember, your abdominal muscles have been through a significant trauma and will be weaker than before your pregnancy.

    Not only have they expanded and been stretched by carrying your baby, they've also been cut through during delivery.

    As such, start gently.

    Essentially, there are two main exercises for your abs - crunches and reverse curls.

    These are really all you need to start with.

    The former emphasise the upper portion of your rectus abdominus (the slab of muscle that stretches from sternum to pelvis, commonly known as your "six-pack").

    The latter works the lower portion and is vital for strengthening and flattening the little pot that many women are left with after giving birth.

    #1. Crunches

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees and rest your feet on the floor
  • Place one hand on each ear - not behind your head - with your elbows pointing towards your feet
  • Breathe in, contract your abs, exhale and slowly lift your head off the floor, curling your chest towards your knees so your shoulders just leave the floor
  • Hold for a second or two and lower your shoulders and head back to the floor
  • Repeat 8-10 times
  • As you get stronger, try two then three sets of 8-10 reps, with a 30 second rest in between.

    #2. Reverse Curls

  • Again, lie on your back, this time with your thighs pointed straight up and your lower legs parallel to the floor
  • Place one hand on each ear with your elbows pointing outwards
  • Breathe in then exhale as you tilt your pelvis towards your chest, lifting your bottom off the floor
  • Hold for a second or two, then gradually relax and return your bottom to the floor
  • Repeat 8-10 times
  • Again, as you get stronger, try two then three sets of 8-10 reps, with a 30 second rest in between.

    Three sets of both exercises should take you no more than 5-6 minutes.

    Do each exercise every other day to start with and then daily as you get stronger.

    For ways to make your abdominal exercise after a C-section more difficult as you get stronger, check out our page on the best abdominal exercise.

    Don't forget though, that whilst abdominal exercise after a C-section will strengthen your abs, you need to build in some aerobic exercise to burn fat and resistance training to build muscle.

    Both of which will help you to raise your metabolic rate so you burn more calories and lose your excess weight.

    Combine that with a healthy eating plan and both you and baby will be in great shape!

    Forget dieting for the first six months after giving birth.

    But when you're ready and if you still have some weight to lose, you may want to check out our reviews of some of the best diets.

    Abdominal exercise after a C-section will help you to flatten your stomach over the course of a few months -- just get started as soon as it's safe to do so, do it most days and stick with it!

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