Because a cesarean section can cut through
some of the stomach muscles, you might find you experience a pouch-like or
puffy stomach following delivery. Recovery from a C-section typically takes
longer than that of a vaginal delivery -- typically from six to eight weeks.
Exercises to flatten your stomach include fat-burning exercises and
muscle-toning exercises. However, you always should obtain permission from your
physician before beginning an exercise program to ensure your abdominal muscles
have sufficiently healed.
exercise does not place excess strain on your C-section stitches, yet helps to
tone the stomach. Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor,
with your legs hip-width apart. Straighten your arms at your sides with your
palms on the floor. Contract your stomach muscles to lift your buttocks, then
your stomach and then your middle back off the floor. Do not lift your
shoulders off the ground. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then lower the
body to the ground. Repeat four to eight times.
Lower Abdominal Slide
exercise is especially beneficial for new moms after c-section because it
targets the lower stomach muscles, which are affected by surgery. Start by
lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor with your arms straight at
your sides, palms facing down. Keep the pelvis tucked in to work the muscles.
Contract your abdominal muscles to slide your right leg straight out, slowly
and in a controlled motion. Use the muscles again to bring the leg in to your
starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg, taking deep breaths as you do.
Repeat three to five times on each leg.
standing exercise helps to strengthen your abdominal muscles and can be
performed throughout the day. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
Lift your arms overhead and bend your torso forward at your hips, creating a
90-degree angle between your legs and your torso. Hold this position for 10
seconds, then return to your standing position. Try to keep your back as flat
as possible during this exercise. Repeat four to eight times.
In order to flatten the stomach, you must first
lose the fat that you gained during your pregnancy. To burn calories, you must
perform cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate. Immediately
after your doctor gives you the OK, it’s best to start with low-impact
exercises. Examples include walking, using an elliptical machine, swimming or
riding a bicycle. As your body heals more, you can start performing exercises
such as jogging or taking an aerobics class. Start with at least three,
30-minute exercise sessions, then work your way up to five exercise sessions
per week. You can even incorporate your baby into these exercises by pushing a
jogging stroller. While you cannot control where you begin to lose weight, an
exercise routine will help you lose fat all over your body.
A caesarean is a major operation, so don't push
yourself too soon. The first six weeks after the operation is a time for
Don't do any
strenuous exercise or heavy lifting in the first couple of months. However, you
can begin practicing your pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel up to it.
Pregnancy can put a strain on your pelvic floor, so these exercises are important,
however you gave birth.
Every time you
lift your baby, tighten your pelvic floor muscles and lower tummy muscles at
the same time. This will help to protect your back, and will prevent you from
Once you feel
comfortable with pelvic floor exercises, you can begin to work on your lower
tummy muscles, which will help to strengthen your back. It's fine to do these
gentle toning exercises in the first six weeks. It won't rip your stitches, or
damage your scar, so there's no need to wait, unless it feels painful.
notice an overhang, which is where the skin around and below your scar is
tighter than the skin above it. Slowly losing weight and practising your pelvic
floor and lower tummy muscle exercises can help to reduce this, and will tone
things up. This may take months, so you need to persevere with your exercises,
even if you don’t notice a difference at first.
Try this simple
exercise 10 times, twice a day, building up to three times a day. If you find
it difficult, start with five times, twice a day:
•Lie on your back and bend
•Squeeze in your pelvic floor muscles as you breathe
•Pull your belly button in and up at the same time.
•Try to hold the squeeze for 10 seconds, without
holding your breath.
You may have got into the habit of stooping,
particularly if the stitches in your scar feel sore. It's natural to feel
vulnerable about your belly after such a major operation, but stooping can lead
to back pain, and can make your tummy stick out.
You may feel
your stitches twinge, but you won't be doing any harm. If these exercises hurt
your scar a lot, ask your health visitor or GP to check them.
around your scar will benefit from being gently flexed. So standing up straight
and doing gentle tummy exercises will help your scar to knit together more
During the first
six weeks after having your baby, you can gradually increase activity at a pace
that suits you. You could start with a five-minute walk, and gradually extend
this time when you feel able. Ask your midwife or health visitor if you're
unsure about what you are ready for.
works your heart and lungs (aerobic) will also help to flatten your tummy. Ease
yourself back into this type of exercise after your postnatal check, if your GP
says it's OK.
exercise, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling, will help you
to shed some baby weight. You may only be able to do 10 minutes of exercise to
begin with, but you will gradually get stronger. The effects of pregnancy
hormones can affect your joints for up to six months after birth, so don't do
any high-impact activities too soon.
After six weeks, you can do gentle sit-ups to tone
things up, though these work on your upper, rather than lower, tummy muscles.
It is often the lower tummy muscles that women find a problem after a caesarean
section, and exercising these is easier and more effective.
Doing too many
sit-ups can also put pressure on your pelvic floor, and cause urine leaks, so
don't overdo it. You should avoid doing more than 10 sit-ups at a time, and don’t
do more than three sets of 10 sit-ups a day. Always breathe throughout the
exercise, and tighten your pelvic floor and lower tummy muscles at the same
You could join a
postnatal exercise group, or do a gentle, low-impact class once you have fully
recovered. It may be too soon for a general exercise class if you are still:
•struggling with walking
•finding it hard to do pelvic floor or lower tummy
•have pain 12 weeks after giving birth
that you tell your instructor that you have had a caesarean. The Guild of
Pregnancy and Postnatal Instructors has a list of specially trained teachers,
or ask your health visitor about classes near you.
If you can't get
to a class, you could do a gentle postnatal exercise DVD at home. Make sure
it's accredited by a professional body, such as The Chartered Society of
If you had any
complications after your caesarean, such as an infection, talk to your GP, and
wait until you feel better, before you exercise again.