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

By Isadora Fox and Nicole Harris
Updated September 13, 2019
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Even if you get the go-ahead from your doctor, 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 coauthor of Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies. Exercise can really help your pelvic floor and abdomen bounce back, and it lets you take control of your body. Read on for more information about getting back into exercise after a C-section. 

When Can I Exercise After a C-Section?

This depends on the women’s fitness level and the specifics of her C-section. In general, though, light exercise can be resumed after 3-4 weeks if the delivery was not complicated, says Pamela Promecene, M.D., professor and obstetrician with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth/UT Physicians in Houston. “It’s important when returning to an exercise plan that you consider the level of exercise being performed prior to pregnancy,” she says. “Although the surgical incision is healed by this time, most mothers are still not sleeping through the night and can have significant fatigue, which can affect exercise tolerance.”

The Best and Worst Exercises After C-Section

If you’re looking to start exercising, always get the green light from your practitioner first, and ask him/her for workout recommendations. Pushing a stroller is good for developing core strength, says Dr. Promecene. Other low impact exercises—like swimming, yoga, and jogging—may also get your practitioner's approval. David Colombo, M.D., Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Spectrum Health, recommends “walking and using a stationary bike to start a few weeks after a C-section, if patients are feeling up to it. 

Wondering what exercises to avoid after a C-section? Don't do anything strenuous, such as lifting heavy weights, for the first month of recovery, says Dr. Colombo. That includes running and resistance training. And since your core may still be sore, Dr. Promecene says to avoid direct ab exercises after a C-section for four-six weeks.

Three Abdominal Exercises After a C-Section

Looking for an exercise after a C-section to reduce your tummy? After at least six weeks—and with the go-ahead from your doctor—you can try these three soothing moves, which strengthen your pelvic floor and abdomen.

1. Bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and legs hip-width apart. Slowly lift your butt and back off the floor. Return to starting position. Do 4 to 8 repetitions.

2. Modified Cobra

Lie on your stomach with your palms flat next to your shoulders. Your elbows should be tucked into your rib cage. Lift your head and neck off the floor, but not so much that it strains your lower back. Suck in your navel as if you were trying to lift your pelvis off the floor. Return to starting position. Do 4 to 8 repetitions.

3. Forward Bend

Stand with your feet 3 to 4 feet apart and your hands on your hips. Extend your arms over your head and bend forward at a 90-degree angle, keeping your back flat. Return to starting position. Do 4 to 8 repetitions.

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