What ab exercises are safe after a C-section? 7 Safe exercises

Heather Campbell
 min read

What ab exercises are safe after a C-section? It’s something that new mothers often ask.

What ab exercises are safe after a C-section? 7 Safe exercisesGiving birth is usually the most beautiful thing you experience as a woman in your life. If this is done via C-section, the scar is an eternal reminder of this that you can certainly be proud of!

As a whole, it is possible to retrain your abdominal muscles after a C-section so you will regain control of your body and muscles. Allow 6 to 8 weeks for healing and consult a doctor before training. Start off with low-intensity exercise and build up slowly, while always listening to your body.

At the same time, your abdomen has often changed dramatically. This can be difficult for some women because their muscles have been through a lot in the meantime and don’t function as well.

In doing so, you need to pay close attention to which exercises you do and how you perform them.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as before your pregnancy, especially if you are still healing or have recently healed.

Read on to learn which abdominal exercises are best and safest for strengthening the abdominal muscles after a C-section birth.

What ab exercises are safe after a C-section? Introduction

You will have to lower your fat percentage for a flat and tight belly after having a cesarean section.

Here, nutrition plays a crucial role. Contact a nutritionist or your doctor for professional guidance on this.

How does a C-section affect your body?

Although performing a C-section is common these days, it is still a major medical procedure that takes a lot out of your body.

Using the abdominal muscles takes on a whole new meaning for new mothers who have given birth via C-section.

Instead of using your abs just for abdominal exercises, you can feel already feel your abs when you sit down, stand, and try to move without pain or discomfort.

The most common incision is made horizontally, often called a bikini cut.

First, an incision is made just above the pubic bone. An incision is then made in the uterus.

Usually, a lateral (horizontal) incision tears the amniotic sac around the baby. And all these actions take quite a bit out of your body!

But there is good news. Contrary to what is often suggested, the muscles in your abdomen are not cut. Instead, they are simply pulled apart so the doctor can access the uterus.

In addition, these muscles have been stretched and lengthened quite a bit anyway to accommodate the growing baby.

How long does the healing process take after a C-section?

This type of surgery is tough on the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. It requires a bit more recovery time to heal properly.

A proper healing process is also necessary to prevent complications, such as diastasis recti.

It takes about 6 to 8 weeks to recover from a C-section, but this depends on your personal situation.

Experts recommend that you always approach a medical professional who can make an assessment of your health before you begin abdominal exercises.

The healing process should basically revolve around rest, healing, hydration, nutrition, and bonding with your new baby.

Still, you can do light physical exercises, such as:

  • Taking short walks
  • Standing upright
  • Getting out of bed

In short, the first 6 to 8 eight weeks should be devoted to light exercise and rest.

When is it safe to start abdominal exercises?

Before you exercise to strengthen the abdominal wall muscles, make sure you do not have a condition called diastasis recti.

This condition occurs when an opening in the rectus abdominis muscles after pregnancy. You can have this checked by your doctor.

At 6 to 8 weeks after the cesarean, it is generally safe to return to low-intensity activities, such as (longer) walking and some gentle exercises to strengthen the trunk and pelvic floor.

The emphasis should be on rebuilding your core and pelvic floor muscles during the first 3 months after delivery before starting with higher impact activities.

In other words, exercises such as running, weight lifting, or high-intensity interval training should be postponed until at least 3 months after the cesarean.

These exercises are usually not appropriate until at least 3 months after delivery and, in many cases, until 6 months after delivery. So rather wait too long than too short.

Tip: Are you uncertain about what you can and cannot do in your situation? If so, consult with a physician or other health professional.

When to pause the exercises?

Pay close attention to your health if you decide to return to exercise after your C-section.

During and after exercise, always check that you are doing well. Certainly, problems can occur even after your workout.

If you notice any of the symptoms below, seek the help of a pelvic floor physical therapist, and do not exercise without your doctor’s approval.

Signs of pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • Scar pain, numbness, or sensitivity
  • Painful intercourse
  • Abdominal bulge
  • Pelvic pain and/or low back pain
  • Difficult bowel movement
  • Heaviness, pressure, or bulging in the low pelvis
  • Leaking urine or stool

Abdominal muscle exercises after cesarean section

Heel slides

This exercise requires a yoga mat or something soft to lie on while performing the exercise on the floor.

Heel slides train the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves but also help to strengthen your torso.

This exercise can help with back pain and recovery after a C-section. This is how you perform the whole slide exercise:

  • Lie on your back and bend your knees.
  • Press your feet into the floor (using socks or a towel under your feet will help your heels slide).
  • Inhale and lift your hips slightly off the ground (to modify, keep your hips on the ground).
  • Exhale and push one heel away from your body. Inhale and slowly drag your heel back to the starting position.
  • Do ten on each side.
  • Concentrate on your breathing and draw your navel toward your spine without changing the shape of your spine as you breathe.

Squeezing a ball with your thigh muscles

Contracting your inner thigh muscle can help activate your pelvic floor and transverse abdominal muscles.

This ball squeeze exercise is a simple and effective way to activate your torso and can be performed lying on your back or sitting with your feet on the floor.

All you need is a ball or similar object. Here’s how to perform the ball squeeze exercise correctly and adequately:

  • Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor.
  • Place a ball or soft pillow between your knees.
  • Breathe in to prepare.
  • Exhale as you squeeze the ball between your knees and gently contract your lower abdomen and pelvic floor.
  • Return to the original posture, inhale, and repeat.

Sitting against a wall

This full-body exercise is an excellent way to get all the muscle groups working together. What’s more, you don’t need any supplies for it at all (just a wall or door).

The trained muscles are also very versatile: the quadriceps, hamstrings, pelvic floor muscles, core, and lower back.

This is how you perform the exercise:

  • Stand with your back to the wall.
  • Slowly lean back toward the wall and lower yourself into a seated position.
  • Your back should stick to the wall, and your knees should form a 90-degree angle to the floor.
  • Involve your trunk and abdominal muscles to stay stable in position.
  • Hold this position for as long as possible.
  • Relax, rest 90 seconds and repeat this exercise 5 times (or more if your body can handle it).

Bridge exercise

During pregnancy, your gluteal muscles can flatten and weaken due to postural changes.

Learning to activate these muscles and contract them with your deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles will stabilize your core and restore your hip and pelvic stability.

In this case, a bridge exercise may be the right exercise. You perform this exercise properly as follows:

  • Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. You want to bring your feet closer to your buttocks before you start.
  • Breathe in to prepare.
  • Exhale as you lift your hips off the floor.
  • Squeeze your buttocks together in the upper position and gently retract your lower abdomen and pelvic floor.
  • Inhale again, return to the original starting position, and repeat.

Cone exercises

The transverse abdominal muscles form the deepest layer of your abdominal wall.

A great way to activate these muscles after a C-section is to contract the pelvic floor muscles.

This exercise is also known as the cone exercise because these muscles work in synergy with the pelvic floor.

Your pelvic floor muscles get longer during pregnancy and have a lot to contend with. A correct cone exercise is performed as follows:

  • Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor.
  • In preparation, perform diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Exhale and perform a transverse abdominal contraction as you imagine pulling your pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles inward.
  • In practice, a cone exercise is actually a contraction and lift of the pelvic floor.
  • Put another way, this exercise can be done by imagining sucking up something with your vagina or stopping the flow of urine or gas.
  • The transverse abdominal muscle contraction can be exercised by imagining that you are gently pulling your hips and the area around your scar together.
  • Return to the original posture, inhale, and repeat.

Kneeling hip thrust

It is essential to learn to activate and strengthen your abdominal muscles in various positions against gravity.

We use our abdominal muscles to get out of a chair, get off the sofa, get off the floor, and bend over to lift the baby.

You want to train your abs for the positions you will use throughout the day.

This kneeling hip thrust exercise is a variation of the bridge exercise and a great way to strengthen your torso using gravity.

  • Start in a long kneeling position, with your upper body upright as you lean back on your lower legs.
  • Breathe in to prepare.
  • Exhale and get down on your knees. Squeeze your buttocks together in the upper position and gently retract your lower abdomen and pelvic floor.
  • Inhale again and repeat.

Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is the first exercise to reconnect with your abdominal muscles after a C-section.

But what does breathing have to do with your torso and abdominal muscles? The answer: everything!

Holding your breath can keep your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles tight and tense.

Diaphragmatic breathing also helps to minimize scarring.

This exercise is easy to perform and is ideal for training your abdominal muscles less intensively after your C-section.

Although this can be done in any position, including lying down, sitting (while feeding your baby is an appropriate time), or standing, it can be interesting to lie down.

The diaphragmatic breathing exercise is done as follows:

  • Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor.
  • Rest one hand on each side of your rib cage.
  • As you inhale, allow the rib cage to inflate in all directions. Visualize your ribs opening on all sides like an umbrella. Allow the belly to inflate and release any tension in the neck and shoulders.
  • Exhale naturally as you let your breath go.
  • Gradually deepen the breathing and work up to a 4-second inhale and a 4-second exhale.

What ab exercises are safe after a C-section? Conclusion

It’s always better to consult with a trusted medical professional before engaging in any exercise after such a major upheaval. It is equally important to get training again to strengthen your abs, back and pelvis.

This post gives an overview of some exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own home, and with minimal effort and expense.

Build up slowly, and listen to your body. You may also want to consult with a trainer to see what ab exercises are safe after a C-section.

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About Heather Campbell

As a dietitian, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More