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Exercise After a Cesarean

If you had a cesarean you will need to progress slowly and perform gentle exercises. Exercising will facilitate the healing the abdominal muscles, as long as you do not strain or try to advance too quickly.

In general, the following program describes a basic plan for the first week following a cesarean. As your incision heals, you will be able to gradually increase activity. Always consult your obstetrician about routine activity and exercise. Individual advice tailored to you is critical to protect yourself from injury while these muscles heal.

Exercise Tips Following A Cesarean
  • Make sure you progress at your own rate
  • Support your incision with your hands or a pillow for the first few days
  • Discontinue any exercise if you experience discomfort

One Week Postpartum

These exercises should be performed gently, slowly and with focus. Pay close attention to your body. Do not strain, or try to 'push through' a tender muscle's limitation. The number of repetitions is only a guide, so if you feel weak do less repetitions taking breaks as you need them. You will find you are getting stronger and able to complete more repetitions as your healing progresses.

Day 1 of Exercise Routine
One day after deliver, and upon approval from your obstetrician.

Abdominal Breathing
This exercise can gradually build strength back in your abdominal muscles. It can also assist in relaxation.

  • Lie down on a comfortable surface such as a bed or carpet. Place a pillow under your head and a rolled up blanket under your knees for comfort.

  • Place your hand above your navel.

  • Inhale and watch your abdomen and hand rise while your muscles stretch outward.

  • Hold for a count of five.

  • Exhale as you pull your abdominal muscles back in and your abdomen falls back down.

  • Hold for a count of five.

  • Repeat four to six times.

Ankle Circles
This exercise enhances circulation in your legs and feet.

  • Make 10-15 circles with your ankles in a clockwise and counterclockwise direction.

  • Repeat three to five times.

  • You can do ankle circles while sitting or lying down.

Day 2-to-7
Continue abdominal breathing and ankle circles.
Add Kegels, pelvic tilt and the leg sliding exercise.

Kegel exercises are extremely important for strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles will be swollen and tender after delivery and you will not feel like doing these exercises. You should do as many as you can tolerate to gradually gain back tone of the muscles. The exercises can also help speed up the healing process of an episiotomy.

  • Tighten your urinary passage and vaginal muscles for three seconds, relax the muscles for three seconds.
  • Begin with 10 three-second squeezes twice to three times a day. Increase repetitions slowly.
  • Work up to doing 50-100 Kegels a day.

Pelvic Tilt
This exercise will strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. Move gently.

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, feet on floor.
  • Exhale and tilt your pelvis upward.
  • Tighten your abdominals and squeeze your buttock muscles together.
  • Gently flatten the small your back against the floor.
  • Hold for a count of five.
  • Inhale as you release.
  • Repeat 4 - 6 times.

  • DO NOT arch your back while performing pelvic tilts.

Leg Sliding

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.

  • Do the pelvic tilt (do not arch).

  • Inhale, then slowly slide one heel up the floor or bed, exhale and slowly lower the leg.

  • Keep your back flat at all times and only work within the range that you can maintain a flat back.

  • Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Aerobic Exercise After Cesarean
Light aerobic activity, like level ground walking for short distances, can usually be resumed about one week after delivery or as soon as you can tolerate it. More vigorous activity should be avoided until your health care provider gives you clearance. Your abdominal wall and muscles need time to heal, and until they do they will be unable to work well for you. Your goal is to protect them and heal, so progress gradually at a comfortable pace for you, and according to your doctor's instructions.

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