You might be discouraged about the condition of your body after a C-section. After nine months of carrying around a heavy baby belly, you're likely more than ready to get your familiar old body back. Cesarean sections take more of a toll on your body than uncomplicated vaginal deliveries because you have a major surgery to recover from.
With the right balance of healing, light exercise, muscle work and good eating, you'll be able to reach your goal weight and develop the strength and stamina you'll need to care for your new addition.
Exercise After C-Section
Wait until you see your doctor for your first post-op follow-up appointment before beginning exercise after a C-section. You may feel ready but your incision site and healing tissues may tell another story. It can take six to eight weeks before you are allowed to do an exercise other than easy walking, according to Kaiser Permanente.
Post C-Section Belly
Although you might be anxious to work on your post–C-section belly, these exercises need to be done cautiously to be sure you are healed from surgery. Start strengthening and tightening your abdominal muscles with some easy breathing exercises designed to work your abdominal muscles. You can perform these exercises from the first day after your C-section:
- Place your hands or a pillow over your incision site and breathe deeply, filling up your diaphragm with as much air as possible.
- Exhale slowly and repeat until your muscles feel tired.
- Repeat several times per day.
Consider Your Diet
Eat a diet high in nutrients and low in saturated fat and excess sugars to best benefit your body after C-section. This will help you lose weight and will support healing and a robust milk supply. Choose whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and low fat protein sources, according to the Mayo Clinic. Make sure you're only eating when you're hungry.
Consider breastfeeding your baby. Researchers in a study published in 2013 by the Food and Nutrition Bulletin found that breastfeeding moms lose more weight, more quickly than moms who formula feed. Breastfeeding calls on your body to burn additional calories as it creates and replenishes your milk supply.
Build Back Up
Start a cardio program that includes low-impact but heart-rate increasing activities like walking or swimming. Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward to avoid muscle strain or injury. Perform these exercises at least three times per week. Add muscle-strengthening exercises on off-days as muscle increases fitness level and burns more calories.
Stop exercising if you feel a tearing sensation at your incision site or if you develop nausea, dizziness or any type of pain, and seek immediate medical attention. Start slowly and build back up to your pre-pregnancy workout routines.
Recruit Some Friends
Life can be stressful with a newborn, particularly if you're also recovering from surgery. This can make it difficult to find time to work on your body. Consider joining a postpartum exercise class for new friendships and moral support. Or look for activities you can do that include your baby, such as walking through a park.