5 Exercises to Try After a C-Section

Find out when you can exercise after a C-section, and learn five exercises that will help build up your tummy strength again.

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After a C-section, people often wonder what exercises they can do to reduce their tummy and strengthen their core. Even if you get the go-ahead from a health care provider, returning to exercise after a C-section can be scary.

But it's worth a try, says Laura Staton, a dancer-choreographer, prenatal yoga instructor, and co-author of Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies. That's because exercise can help your pelvic floor and tummy bounce back, and it lets you take control of your body.

That said, not all activities are good for post-C-section. For example, don't do anything strenuous, such as lifting heavy weights, for the first month of recovery, says David Colombo, M.D., director of maternal fetal medicine at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That includes running and resistance training.

And since your core may still be sore, Pamela Promecene, M.D., professor and obstetrician with McGovern Medical School at UT Physicians in Houston, says to avoid direct ab exercises after a C-section for four to six weeks.

Instead, stick to low-impact exercises like swimming, yoga, and jogging. Also, pushing a stroller is good for developing core strength, says Dr. Promecene.

If you are feeling up to it, Dr. Colombo recommends walking and using a stationary bike to start a few weeks after a C-section. And as always, if you're looking to start exercising, always get the green light from a health care provider first, and ask them for workout recommendations.

When Can You Start Exercising After a C-Section?

While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says it's OK to resume exercise within a few days after an uncomplicated vaginal birth, the same is not true for a C-section. Instead, they recommend getting the all-clear from a health care provider before beginning any exercise.

A health care provider may give the green light anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months post-C-section. "It's important when returning to an exercise plan that you consider the level of exercise being performed prior to pregnancy," Dr. Promecene says. Even after your surgical incision is healed, you'll likely still not sleep through the night and have significant fatigue, which can affect exercise tolerance.

Read on for five abdominal exercises to try after a C-section that strengthen your pelvic floor and abdomen. Be sure to wait at least six weeks before trying them and obtain the go-ahead from a health care provider.


The bridge exercise after a C-section firms up tummy muscles. Plus, it strengthens the glutes and lower back, making it an excellent exercise for building back your core strength.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Place your feet flat on the floor and place your legs hip-width apart.
  3. Slowly lift your butt and back off the floor.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Do four to eight repetitions.

Modified Cobra

The cobra is a yoga position that stretches the back. But it also strengthens the pelvis and lower abdomen. The standard cobra exercise begins in a plank, but after a C-section, you'll want to modify it so you don't strain your core too much.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your stomach with your palms flat next to your shoulders.
  2. Tuck your elbows into your rib cage.
  3. Lift your head and neck off the floor, but not so much that it strains your lower back.
  4. Suck in your navel as if you were trying to lift your pelvis off the floor.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Do four to eight repetitions.

Forward Bend

A forward bend helps you regain control of your middle. In addition, it works your abdominal muscles and back, strengthening your entire core.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet a few feet apart and your hands on your hips.
  2. Extend your arms over your head and bend forward at a 90-degree angle, keeping your back flat.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Do four to eight repetitions.


Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor. These muscles support your bowel, uterus, and bladder, which makes exercising them after a C-section particularly important. According to researchers, toned pelvic floor muscles help you control urinary and fecal incontinence and can make sex more pleasurable.

How to do it:

  1. Locate your pelvic floor muscles by interrupting the flow of urine.
  2. Once you've identified your muscles (while no longer peeing), contract and release the muscles. Repeat 25-50 times.
  3. When you've got the hang of it, contract and hold the contraction for a few seconds.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Leg Slides

Leg slides tone your tummy and leg muscles. It's a gentle yet effective way to target the muscles of your core.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Slide one leg until it's straight and flat on the floor.
  3. Return it to a bent position.
  4. Repeat with the other leg.
  5. Do it four to eight times with each leg.
Updated by Nicole Harris
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  1. Knowledge and practice of pelvic floor muscle exercises among pregnant women in Enugu Metropolis, NigeriaWomens Health Rep (New Rochelle). 2020.

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