Every woman’s dream is to get back in shape after giving birth. Although mothers who have had normal delivery can hit the gym a few days after delivery, this is not the case for C-section mothers who have to be extra cautious. Dr Gerald Asaba, a general physician, says before starting any exercise, you should talk to your doctor who should give you a go ahead.
“Most new mothers need to be seen by their doctor at least once after their C-section to ensure that their body is healing properly. Let your doctor know that you would like to start working out again and ask when it would be okay,” Dr Asaba says.
Robert Ddamulira, a fitness instructor, gives some exercises that a mother can engage in.
A few days after
Practice standing up
“It is hard to stand after a C-section but it is necessary so that you can strengthen your stomach muscles. Do this as much as you can but without straining your body, this will relive you of back pain and help your stitches heal gradually,” Asaba notes. He adds that you can also do a few movements within the house or outside, such as cleaning dishes.
Do pelvic floor exercises
These will not strain your stitches or wound but Asaba notes that you should stop the moment you feel abnormal pain. Lie on the floor and reach your arms and legs above your head, lift your chest and head just a few inches from the floor while lying on your stomach, lie on your back, bend your knees and press through your heels to lift your lower body and back off the ground.
“Alternatively, you can lie on your back, bend your legs but with feet flat (straight) on the floor, put your hands under your head and lift your shoulders and head off the ground gently and repeatedly for at least five times. These exercises will leave your lower back healthy and also strengthen the bladder,” Ddamulira says.
At eight months
Lean against the wall and make a squat-like movement with your back still on the wall. Hold the stomach with both hands for support and take gentle breaths (in and out method). Stay there for three to five seconds but discontinue in case of abdominal pain.
Modified side plank
Ivan Musinguzi, a gym instructor, notes that this exercise is good for hands, legs, stomach and back and strengthen your whole body. Lie sideways, bend your legs a bit, support yourself with one hand and the legs, and raise your body upward, releasing your other hand in the air. Hang in there for a few minutes.
“Wall push-ups are also good. Face a wall, standing a little farther than arms length away, feet shoulder-width apart. Lean your body forward and put your palms flat against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart. Slowly breathe in as you bend your elbows and lower your upper body toward the wall in a slow, controlled motion. Keep your feet flat on the floor and hold the position for about five seconds,” Musinguzi says.
Ddamulira says walking is a safe, effective form of exercise. Not only is it a light activity to get you gradually back into exercising after surgery, but it also allows you to bring your baby in a stroller. “Use a walking routine as an excuse to get outside for fresh air, which can be a challenge during the first few weeks after birth,” he adds.
Examine your diet
Eunice Ajok, a nurse, notes that you should monitor what you eat to avoid adding more weight. “Eat foods that will help you cut a few calories each day, especially fruits and plenty of vegetables. Take plenty of fluids, especially fresh juice and water and avoid sugar as much as possible,” she says.
What to avoid
Ddamulira says weight lifting should be avoided as it will affect the wound. He adds that this can only be undertaken after clearance from a doctor and a mother must work under the supervision of a fitness instructor.
“We will start you off with lighter weights such as one kilogramme. However, mothers should also be honest and let us know the moment they start feeling any pain so that the exercise can be stopped,” he adds.
Ddamulira notes that you should avoid vigorous exercises and only increase the intensity of your exercise routine as quickly as is comfortable. If at any point your exercise starts to hurt you or causes you to become over-fatigued, decrease intensity.
Prepare for physical and emotional barriers
Exercising after a C-section can be tricky even if you are healing perfectly. You will probably get fatigued more easily than you are used to. You may even feel emotional or demotivated due to hormonal processes beyond your control. Do your best to surpass these hurdles and exercise when you can.
• If you frequently feel too tired, sad, demotivated after your pregnancy to start exercising, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Talk to your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you.