After your cesarean delivery

A cesarean delivery is a surgery where an incision is made through the abdominal wall to deliver a baby quickly and safely. Cesarean deliveries are sometimes medically necessary, but the recovery time is slightly longer than a vaginal birth. For this reason, caution should be taken. Moms should get their doctor’s OK before returning to regular exercise.

Some key muscles that require retraining after pregnancy include the transverse abdominis. These are the corset-like muscles that wrap around the midline to the spine, the pelvic floor muscles, and the abdominal and lower back muscles.

After a cesarean delivery, it’s important to activate and strengthen these areas so that they can provide support, decrease your risk of injury, and help you make a full recovery postpartum.

Try these gentle exercises after a cesarean delivery. They require no equipment and can be performed from anywhere.

1. Belly breathing

This exercise is a great relaxation technique. It also helps retrain the core muscles to work together during daily activities.

Muscles worked: transverse abdominis

  1. Lie on your back on a comfortable bed or couch.
  2. Place your hands on your belly and relax your body.
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, feeling your abdomen expand into your hands.
  4. Breathe out through your mouth. As you exhale, pull your bellybutton in toward your spine, contracting your abdominal muscles. Hold for 3 seconds.
  5. Repeat 5 to 10 times, 3 times a day.
2. Seated kegels

A layer of connective tissue called the fascia connects the muscles of the abdominals to the pelvic floor and helps them work together for optimal performance.

Kegels are an excellent exercise to strengthen and activate the pelvic floor. They have been shown to decrease stress incontinence following childbirth. After a C-section you may have a urinary catheter and these exercises will help after the catheter is removed.

Muscles worked: pelvic floor

  1. Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet on the floor.
  2. Contract the muscles of the pelvic floor. It should feel like you’re trying to hold back the flow of urine.
  3. Imagine you’re closing all the openings of the vagina, anus, and urethra. Imagine lifting them up away from the chair.
  4. Hold this contraction as long as possible. Start with 5 seconds and work up to a longer duration.
  5. Take a deep breath in and then breathe out fully, relaxing the contraction.
  6. Try Kegels in different positions like standing or lying on your side.
  7. Perform 8 to 12 times with a 2-minute rest between contractions. Repeat 2 times per day.
3. Wall sit

This full-body isometric exercise is an excellent way to get all the muscle groups to work together in unison.

Muscles worked: quadriceps, hamstrings, pelvic floor muscles, core, and lower back

  1. Stand with your feet 1 to 2 feet away from the wall.
  2. Slowly lean back toward the wall, lowering yourself into a sitting position. Your hips and knees should be at 90-degrees to one another.
  3. Engage your core. Take a deep breath in and while you exhale, feel as if you’re pulling your belly button into the wall.
  4. For an added bonus, contract your pelvic floor by doing a Kegel while holding this position.
  5. Hold for as long as possible. Rest 1 minute, then repeat 5 times