Exercise Following a Caesarean Section
Even if you feel fine following your Caesarean section, remember you just had major surgery so it's important that you take small steps to get yourself back in shape. Immediately following your C-section, before you even get out of bed, make circles with your feet and ankles while lying in bed to get your circulation going and your blood flowing. These first exercises can prevent blood clots that occur when someone is unable to move following surgery.
Generally speaking, within about twelve hours of your surgery, a nurse will be in your room encouraging you to get up and about. Yes, it will definitely hurt, but your goal is to shuffle up and down the hall at least a couple of times in order to get your body going. The typical hospital stay for a C-section is only 3-5 days, so it's a good idea to walk the hospital halls as much as you can. You may need to hold your stomach with a pillow, but try your best not to hunch over while you walk.
Once Your Doctor Gives You the Go-Ahead
Once you've been cleared by your doctor and your stitches have healed, you can start doing some isotonic ab exercises, but again, don't forget that your abdominal muscles have been through a trauma and even if you were a faithful exerciser before and during your pregnancy, these muscles will be significantly weaker. They have not only been stretched and expanded by the baby in your belly but have been cut and stitched as well, so start gently.
You can start with crunches which work on the upper part of your abdomen. To complete an effective crunch, simply lie on your back, knees bent, feet resting flat on the floor. Place one hand on each ear and point your elbows towards your feet. Slowly lift your head off the floor, curling your chest toward your knees so your shoulders barely leave the floor, holding for a second or two before lowering your shoulders and head back to the floor. Repeat 8-10 times in the beginning. As you gain strength, you can do two sets, then three, resting 30 seconds in between sets.
While doing abdominal exercises following your C-section will definitely strengthen your stomach muscles, you will also need to add in aerobic exercises which burn fat, and resistance training to build up your muscles. All of these exercises will also raise your resting metabolic rate so you burn more calories, making it easier to lose your post-pregnancy weight. Rather than jumping on the diet bandwagon following the birth of your baby, it's much better to just eat a balanced, nutritious diet, cutting out the "whites" such as sugar and white flour.
You may notice your scar puckering as it heals, which generally means you have scar adhesions from the way the scar tissue healed. After your stitches have been removed, you can begin massaging oil into your scar, gently moving the car in circles. Once the scar is fully healed, you can do a back extension stretch by lying on your stomach with your hands on the floor, and arching your back until you feel the stretch in your stomach.
Above all, listen to your body; there have been women who were so gung-ho about getting back into the exercise groove that they ended up ripping their C-section scar open, or caused internal damage, which, in some cases can last for years. Enjoy your new baby, and take it easy for at least a month or so following your C-section, then gradually ease your body back into the exercise it needs.