A Cesarean or C-section procedure involves making a surgical incision to remove your baby. C-sections are recommended if you have a complicated pregnancy, such as your baby being in a breach position, that does not enable you to deliver in a traditional manner. A C-section is considered major abdominal surgery -- so exercise is not often a part of your post-delivery picture until you have received physician approval.
Splitting the Surgical Site
A C-section surgery involves making an incision in your abdomen. Your stomach will take some time to heal from this incision. As it is healing, exercise can compromise the incision, causing it to bleed, split open or ooze from the incision site. This occurrence can be both painful and dangerous to your health. For this reason, avoid exercise, especially abdominal exercises, until your physician gives you the go-ahead. Refrain from exercising to enhance your recovery and allow your body to complete its natural healing processes.
Increased Risk of Uterine Infection
Uterine infection is a concern for those who deliver via C-section, according to Dr. Kathryn Pruzinsky, an associate clinical professor at the University of California San Diego. "Women who had had C-sections are at 10 times the risk for endometritis or uterine infection than are women who have delivered vaginally," Dr. Pruzinsky said. Exercise is an activity that can place too much pressure on your abdomen and increase your risk of uterine infection.
Increased Risk of Diastasis Recti
Diastasis recti is a condition that causes your rectus abdominus muscle, which is a deep abdominal muscle that runs from your chest to pelvis, to split, creating a noticeable ridge in your abdomen. When you go through a C-section, you are already at an increased risk for experiencing diastasis recti. Exercising or even over-exercising after your C-section can damage these muscles. If you experience diastasis recti that splits your muscles more than a couple of inches, this can require surgical repair.
Your physician will typically clear you for exercise about six weeks following a C-section. Even after this time, you must listen to your body to ensure you are best able to heal. Your ligaments will stretch during pregnancy, which can make you feel clumsier during exercise. Your muscular, lung and cardiac endurance also may be compromised. Starting an exercise program slowly is important to preventing injury and infection.