Swimming Is Ideal Exercise After a C-Section, but Don't Start Too Soon

Although each woman's recovery period after a C-section varies, doctors generally recommend waiting at least three weeks after delivery before beginning any exercises.

Wait at least three weeks after your C-section before you go swimming. (Image: microgen/iStock/GettyImages)

Swimming is an ideal form of exercise after a Cesarean section because it puts very little stress on your body. If you plan to swim soon after your surgery, wait until you have stopped bleeding and your scar is completely healed.


After a C-section, do not soak in the bathtub or go swimming before getting advice from a health care professional. Recovery times may vary, but it normally takes three to six weeks after surgery before you can go for a swim.

Post-Surgery Recovery

For the first few weeks after a Cesarean, recovery should be your main goal. After surgery and delivery, get up and walk around as soon as the doctor allows it. Little movements, such as walking down the hallway and back to your room, will help speed up your recovery.

According to MedlinePlus, you shouldn't lift anything heavier than your baby for the first six to eight weeks. You should also make sure to keep the wound area clean by washing it with mild soap and water.

Don't become too active too quickly. Returning to normal life after surgery can be stressful; don't be too concerned about cleaning your house and moving around excessively. Too much movement can hinder recovery.

MedlinePlus advises not taking a bath after a C-section, soaking in a hot tub or going swimming until a health care provider indicates that it's OK. Going for a swim should generally be permitted about three weeks after a C-section or more.

Swimming After a C-Section

Begin to exercise only after your doctor has cleared you for movement. While some women can begin at three weeks, others might have to wait longer. Because swimming puts little pressure on your joints, yet still provides an efficient aerobic workout, it can be a great choice as you ease back into working out.

You can also start doing other gentle exercises like walking and low-impact aerobics. Walking is recommended because of its health benefits such as improving circulation, decreasing the risk of blood clots and reducing intestinal swelling. Walking may also help reduce stress and give you an opportunity to get outdoors.

Risk of Infection

Because a C-section involves an incision, you need to wait until it is completely healed before swimming. An incision that is not entirely healed may become infected.

Vaginal bleeding is common after childbirth, including a Cesarean. Do not go swimming after a C-section until the bleeding has ceased, because wearing a tampon is not recommended in the first six weeks after surgery.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercising post-delivery can help reduce constipation, improve circulation, increase your energy level, promote healing and decrease your risk of blood clots.

In addition to swimming, walking, low-impact aerobics and exercises that will help strengthen your abdominals are beneficial after childbirth.

Listen to your body, however, and if you experience pain, stop exercising. Take it slow in the beginning and be sure to get clearance from your doctor, especially regarding abdominal exercises.

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