When and how to exercise after a c-section

Find out how long you should wait before exercising and the activities that are safe to do while recovering. Learn how pelvic floor and abdominal exercises can help.

While you’re in hospital, your midwife should give you information on exercises that will help you recover from your caesarean section (c-section). They will encourage you to start moving around as soon as you’re able to get out of bed. Gentle walking will help you recover from your surgery.

If you had any complications during pregnancy or birth, or you have any medical problems, get advice from your GP or a physiotherapist before starting any type of exercise.

Find out more about what happens after the c-section

Pelvic floor exercises

You may have been doing these exercises during your pregnancy. After your c-section, you can start to exercise your pelvic floor once your catheter has been removed and as soon as you feel ready. These exercises will help strengthen the muscles that support your womb, bowels and bladder. This may help you manage any problems with leaking urine.  

Read more about how to find and exercise your pelvic floor muscles.

Abdominal exercises

These exercises will help to strengthen the muscles in your abdomen (tummy area). This will help you to protect your spine and have good posture.

  • Lie on your side and slightly bend your knees.
  • Relax your abdominal muscles and breathe in gently.
  • As you breathe out, gently pull in your abdominal muscles.
  • At the same time, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Hold in your abdominal muscles and squeeze your pelvic floor for 10 seconds, then gently release.
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times.
  • Try to do this exercise three times a day.

Physical exercise

Wait until you’ve had your 6-8 week postnatal check with your GP before returning to your pre-pregnancy levels of exercise. Try to build up your exercise levels gradually. Once you have recovered from your c-section and no longer have any pain, it is usually safe to start low-impact exercises, such as swimming, pilates, yoga, gentle jogging and low resistance gym work.

Your GP may recommend you wait for at least 12 weeks before starting any high-impact exercises, such as aerobics, running and resistance or weight training.

Read more about recovering at home after a c-section

Sources

Public Health Agency (2017) Birth to five. Public Health Agency.

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Last reviewed on April 24th, 2018. Next review date April 24th, 2021.

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