In my prenatal classes – I always emphasize, that exercise is a particularly important part of recovery from the trauma of cesarean section.
However, it is important to do the right exercise, in the right way at the right time, to ensure that the exercise only helps and does not hamper recovery.
How to start exercising after Cesarean section
A: 18 hours after cesarean section
Nowadays Cesarean section is done under spinal anesthesia which causes loss of sensation in the lower half of the body.
It takes around 18 hours for sensation and muscle power to come back to your legs. And as soon as you can move your legs your doctor is likely to ask you to start exercises like –
- Flapping the feet by moving the ankles while lying on the bed
- Squeezing the toes while lying on the bed
- Squeezing the calf muscles while lying on the bed.
These exercises are important to prevent a life-threatening condition called DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).
B: 24 hours after cesarean section
Once the anesthesia has worn off completely, your doctor will ask you to walk around the room.
The first walk you take would probably be to the washroom. Attempt it with someone holding you.
Once you have done this you should be able to walk around the room – to your baby’s crib and back to your bed as often as you like.
C: 7 days after cesarean section
After discharge from the hospital start doing exercises to correct your posture.
The pain of the stitches may have caused you to adopt a slightly stooped posture and this can lead to backaches, other pains, and injuries.
Start standing sideways in front of a mirror thrice a day and straightening yourself.
Keep the following in mind as you walk around the house –
- Head up – chin up – shoulders back and down – chest out.
- Step with the heel down first and then put your weight on the ball of your feet.
- When you carry your baby keep your back straight and your baby centered.
- Do not bend over your baby while breastfeeding – sit up straight.
- Practice deep breathing and fill your lungs with air. Do not allow your abdomen to expand.
- Start neck rotation and shoulder rotation exercises.
- Walk around and do all routine activities around the house.
D: 6 weeks after cesarean section
Start walking. Begin with a 5-minute walk 3 times a day. Slowly increase to 10 minutes 3 times a day.
Use 500gm weights to exercise your shoulders. Do 10 repetitions of lateral raises, W-V poses, bicep curls and triceps extensions.
Exercise your legs with 10 repetitions of calf raises, knee extensions, standing pelvic tilt, and side leg raises.
Stretch your back with the cat camel stretch and stretch all the other muscles you use with appropriate stretches during warm-up and cool down.
- Always check with your doctor before you start any exercise.
- Never overdo your exercise.
- Keep a close watch on nutrition and hydration.
- Breath holding exercises which increase the intra-abdominal pressure should be avoided for six months.
Dr Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting. Her books on parenting are published by Juggernaut Books and she is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute. She is renowned for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.