It is understandable that new mums are keen to get their bodies back in shape and lose weight post pregnancy, but taking time to recover from pregnancy and delivery is important before getting back into exercise.
If your baby was born by caesarean section this is all the more so. Your first and foremost priority is to recover from surgery and settle in with your beautiful new bundle of joy and not rush any weight loss.
Whilst caesarean techniques can vary according to individual circumstance. They all involve a surgical procedure and opening of the lower abdominal wall, which means extra care and thought is important in regards to recovery and returning to exercise.
The early days
In the early days after a caesarean delivery you will be mostly resting and recovering, with sensible pain management helping you to do gentle activities, commence feeding and bond with your baby. During this time you will benefit from performing some very simple exercises 3 times per day:
- Pelvic Floor exercises 3 long lifts or 5 – 8 quick lifts , will help strengthen your pelvic floor after assist the prevention of incontinence and other problems down the track. You can see examples of pelvic floor exercises here
- Core strengthening. The deepest abdominal and back muscles support your spine and pelvis and provide foundation strength for all other activities. As soon as it is comfortable you can lightly start to regain their strength and control. Gently draw your lower abdomen inward and upward and hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Relax and repeat x 3. Check you are not sucking in your waist or ribs and you breathe normally as you draw in below the navel.
- Simple foot and leg movements such as waving your feet back and forth x 10 and bending and straightening your knees x 5 on each leg will help maintain healthy blood flow whilst you are resting in bed.
- Gentle neck and shoulder movements will also help to minimise neck and shoulder stiffness and post caesarean postural problems: Sit tall to lengthen your spine, then roll your shoulders slowly up, back and down x 10 then carefully roll your head and neck in a small circle 3 times each direction.
The early weeks
As the days go on, simply getting up and about and looking after your baby is all the activity you need plus continuing pelvic floor strengthening and neck and shoulder stretches. Avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a good six weeks or more.
When you are comfortable you can start light walks. Getting out and about with your baby in the pram is great for your mind as well as your body. Commence with 5 minutes and gradually increase your time within comfort , monitoring your comfort and energy levels.
The life of a new mum involves plenty of leaning forward over your baby, at the change table, on the floor and when cuddling or feeding.