Back Exercises After a Cesarean Section

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Strengthen your back after the cesarean. (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images)

After having a cesarean section, your core muscles in your back and abdomen may be weak from the surgery. You might also experience back pain as you recover from the strain pregnancy has put on your body. Back exercises can help you get stronger and maintain flexibility; both attributes are necessary to care for a newborn as she grows into a heavy baby. Most women can begin exercising about six weeks after a C-section. Discuss your plans and timetable with your doctor.

Bridge

A bridge is usually seen as a stomach-strengthening exercise, but the stretch can also relieve lower back pain and stabilize your spine. Lie on your back on a mat or bed -- the University of Iowa recommends avoiding hard exercise surfaces as you ease back into physical activity after a C-section -- and bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. TIghten your abs and lift your hips off the floor so that your body forms a bridge. Hold the position for several seconds and relax. As you get back into shape, you will be able to hold the bridge for longer periods.

Quadriped Exercises

Exercises that you perform while on your hands and knees strengthen your back without putting pressure on your C-section wound. Several variations of these stretches exist, but start with the most basic and work your way up to the more challenging poses. On your hands and knees, extend the opposite arm and leg out straight -- for example, your left arm and right leg -- while you balance on the other. Hold for a count of two and switch to the other arm and leg. The Downward-Facing Dog is a yoga position that works on your back muscles as well. Begin from a push-up-type prone position, balancing on your toes and your hands. Keep your elbows straight and push your hips back and up until your buttocks are pointing in the air. At the height of the exercise, your head is nestled between your arms and your body forms an inverted V.

Lat Pulldown

Lat pull-downs are back exercises that are done using resistance bands. Check with your obstetrician to determine whether you are healing well enough at six weeks post-partum to perform this exercise without pulling on your stitches. If you don't go to a gym, attach resistance bands from a suspension bar in a doorway or ceiling. Or tie a large knot in the middle of the resistance band, put the band over the top of a door -- with the knot behind where the door will close -- and then close the door. Be sure the knot is big enough that it won't slip through the top of the door crack, and that no one from the outside opens the door as you're using the band. Stand with your feet slightly apart. Grab the bands, one in each hand, so that your fists are closed and facing forward. Pull down on the bands until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle and continue to pull down as much as you can. Try not to move your shoulders as you pull.

Support

New mothers who are breastfeeding should wear a fitted sports or nursing bra that provides strong support. The additional weight you carry when you're lactating can be uncomfortable when you exercise if you don't have a good bra. Schedule your back exercise workout after you have nursed your baby to increase your comfort.

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