How soon can I start exercise after a C-section?

Dear Doctor,

When is the right time to exercise after a C-section? My baby is about a month old and I would like to start the process of getting back into shape. Is it too soon?

 

Claire
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Dear Claire,

 

Caesarean section involves major surgery, where the abdomen is cut and baby is removed. After that, the cut abdominal muscles are sutured and an antiseptic dressing is put over the wound. The stitches are removed in about a week.  Post operatively, care is needed to ensure that the wound does not get infected, no complication develops and healing occurs smoothly. The entire healing takes about a minimum period of six to eight weeks. Any strain on the abdominal muscles during this period can cause incisional hernia or may delay healing.

 

A woman puts on weight during pregnancy and subsequent breastfeeding. Care of a new born is also an exhausting task which does not leave a lot of free time for the mother. Therefore, many women tend to gain weight after delivery and become vulnerable to the health hazards of obesity. Therefore, it is important to lose the excess weight added during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

A low calorie diet and regular exercise are key in helping a woman to lose weight. Usually, exercise should be avoided during the first six to eight weeks, to avoid any strain and facilitate the healing of the post C-section wound. If one is keen on it, a very light exercise should be initiated and that too after four to six weeks of a C-section. Start slowly and gradually increase how hard you work and how long you exercise. Always listen to your body.  The scar and sutured stomach muscles react best to consistent, regular exercise. Walking, aerobics, and yoga, are type of exercises which are more suitable and can be done after a C-section. Any activity or exercise which puts strain on the abdominal muscles should be avoided. This includes exercises involving leg raising or bending in front. Similarly, lifting or pushing heavy weights should be avoided.

The amount of exercise should be increased gradually. If you feel tired or experience some discomfort after doing exercise, it should be stopped immediately.   Those who have had any post operative complication or suffer from some chronic health issue like hypertension, diabetes, and etcetera, should consult their doctor before doing any exercise.

                                
Dr.Rachna   Pande is a
specialist in internal medicine. 

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