Q: [Prenatal/Infant] I had a game plan of getting back into shape post-baby…then came the unexpected C-section. Other new moms are jumping back into fitness and feeling like themselves again, and I’m sidelined. Are there any exercises I can do after a cesarean?
A: You should definitely begin to exercise after a normal pregnancy and delivery, including a cesarean section, provided there were no complications. It strengthens and tones the abdominal muscles, boosts energy, promotes better sleeping and relieves stress.
After a cesarean, it is general recommended that you start exercising in 2-3 weeks, at the recommendation from your own physician.
Brisk walking and riding a bike on a level surface should join strengthening workouts working the major muscle groups, like the arms, legs, and hips. These include yoga, Pilates, spin, dance, weight lifting, sit-ups, and push-ups. Avoid the abdominal muscles and core (sit-ups and push-ups) at first after a cesarean section, and introduce those when you feel ready. You may also start doing Kegel exercises that help tone the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Walking is a great way to begin exercising and get back in shape after childbirth. Walking outside has the added benefit of being able to push your baby in a stroller. Some gyms have special postpartum exercise classes and classes you can take with your baby. This also allows you to get out with your friends and benefits your own mental health. Consider working out with a personal trainer for an added level of motivation.
Wear loose-fitting clothing to keep cool and a good-fitting bra for support. If you are breastfeeding, feed your baby or express your milk before you workout to avoid any discomfort that you may have from breast engorgement. Keep your bottle of water handy, drink liberally during and after your workout and don’t skip out on a warm up before and cool down after your workout.
Lastly, if at any time when starting a particular exercise you feel significant pain, you should stop that movement immediately.
Myron R. Kanofsky, M.D.is an OB/GYN at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, who has been practicing in Southern California since 1981. He is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. www.drkanofsky.com