11 Effective C Section Workouts & C Section Recovery Exercises

Whether you’ve planned your C Section or it was an unexpected twist in your birthing journey, the recovery period after a cesarean can be challenging. But with the right advice and guidance, you can gradually rebuild your strength, regain your fitness, and reduce the chances of further injury with C Section exercises and C Section stretches. As a C Section recovery mom myself as well as certified postpartum fitness coach, I have compiled a list of 11 easy and convenient C Section recovery exercises you can do from the comfort of your home.

As a fitness professional, I cannot stress enough the significance of engaging in C Section recovery exercises that are not only safe but also specifically designed to meet the requirements of your recovery body. I am here to assist you on this journey, beginning on day one of your recovery. I encourage you to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with me prior to initiating any intense physical activities. Working with a specialized coach is essential in guaranteeing you'll be getting the safest and most effective recovery plan. Everyone deserves a customized approach to postpartum recovery that suits their body's individualized needs. It's all about making sure you are getting stronger, training the correct muscle groups, and moving through your day to day life with as much strength and ease as possible.

Hi I'm Coach Joanie

As a C Section exercises expert, I've spent years helping people like you reduce the risk of nagging injuries, aches and pains like pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti, back pain, sciatica and decreased strength, amongst others. My online memberships start at just $34 and are tailored for top-notch support. And, as a special offer for a short period, I'm providing a complimentary discussion about your fitness goals during parenthood too!

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C Section Workouts & C Section Exercises Guide

Now let's dive into what a C-section procedure and recovery is all about and why a customized approach is so essential to your recovery.

What has happened to your body during a C Section?

A C Section is a major abdominal surgery where a baby is delivered through incisions made in the abdomen and uterus. Your muscles, fascia, and skin layers have been cut, and they require time to heal. This means that deep core muscles have been affected, and abdominal separation (diastasis recti) might have occurred too. If you want to know more, please read this information from Fit For Birth, the educational company where I received my pre and postnatal training, on What Happens To The Abdominal Muscles During a C-Section

The expected recovery time after a C Section

Everyone’s C Section recovery is different, but most sources will say, it takes about 6-8 weeks for the initial healing process. Much of this depends on what physical condition your body was in going into your delivery and how soon you started to rehabilitate your core following surgery.  I begin breathing and core awareness exercises with my members immediately post birth.

The benefits of exercise for people after a C Section

Starting off a program of the correct C Section exercises and C Section recovery stretches

aids in faster recovery, increases energy levels, strengthens core muscles, and helps in regaining pre-pregnancy fitness levels. C Section rehab exercises and C Section recovery stretches also boost mood, reduce postpartum depression risks, and improve circulation, which aids in wound healing.

The importance of safety when exercising after a C Section

Pushing yourself too hard or doing the wrong types of C Section exercises, or C Section stretches, too soon can lead to complications, so please take your time! Safety and education should be your top priority. Listen to your body, start slow, and increase intensity gradually. It's also vital to be aware of signs that might indicate you’re overdoing it, such as increased pain or bleeding.

The importance of relaxation and mental health

Your body needs to rest. Ensure you’re getting adequate sleep, nutrition and relaxation. Remember, recovery isn’t just about physical healing; mental and emotional recovery is just as crucial. Know that it's a sign of strength to ask for help if you are feeling depressed, overwhelmed or in pain.

11 Safe & Effective C Section Recovery Exercises

1) Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing  (safe to start immediately post birth) 

  • How to: Sit or lie down comfortably. Take a deep breath in, gently expanding your diaphragm, sides of the ribs and lower belly, then exhale slowly.

  • Benefits: This is the MOST important exercise in order to reconnect to your core! Reduces stress, aids in circulation, gently engages the core muscles and gets your diaphragm back online as your main breathing muscle. 

  • Tips: Place your hands on your belly and focus on the gentle rise and fall of your hands as you breathe deeply. 

2) Pelvic Floor Activations.  (safe to start immediately post birth) 

  • How to: These can be done from any comfortable position.  On your 1st exhale, imagine closing and lifting  the muscles that would stop the flow of urine.  Inhale release.  On your 2nd exhale, close and lift the muscles that would stop you from passing gas.  Inhale and release.  On your 3rd exhale, try to coordinate stopping the flow of urine and stopping yourself from passing gas.  Inhale and release fully.

  • Benefits: Receive feedback on your pelvic floor’s ability to contract and relax post birth.  Your pelvic floor health is a vital part of healing and connecting to your core. 

  • Tips: Keep movements gentle, controlled and connected to your breath. 

3) Pelvic Floor Activations Tilts (safe to start immediately post birth) 

  • How to: Lie on your back with your knees bent. As you exhale, imagine a zipper closing your abdominal muscles from the pelvic floor up to the bottom of the ribs as you push your lower back into the floor on the exhale. Hold for a few seconds and release all muscle tension on the inhale.

  • Benefits: Strengthens core muscles and aids in posture correction.

  • Tips: Keep movements gentle, controlled and connected to your breath. 

4) Marches (safe to start immediately post birth) 

  • How to: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Exhale and lightly engage your abdominal muscles enough to stabilize your spine and pelvis.  Lift one foot, 1 inch off the ground.  Release your foot back down as you inhale.

  • Benefits: Strengthens core muscles and aids in posture correction.

  • Tips: Keep movements gentle, especially in the early stages of recovery.

5) Heel Slides (safe to start immediately post birth) 

  • How to: Lie on your back, knees bent. On your exhale, lightly engage your core and slowly slide one heel out until your leg is straight.  Inhale.  Exhale, engage your core and slide the leg and foot back.

  • Benefits: Connects you to your breath and activates the deep core and pelvic floor muscles.

  • Tips: Maintain a neutral spine.  Move slowly.  Connect to your breath. 

6) Knee Windshield Wipers 

  • How to: Lie on your back, knees bent. Gently drop your knees to one side, then the other.  

  • Benefits: Stretches, mobilizes and releases tension from the lower back and hips.

  • Tips: Use slow, controlled movements and coordinate with your inhale and exhale. 

7) Bridges

  • How to: Lie on your back, knees bent. Lift your hips off the ground, squeezing your glutes as you lift up on your exhale.  Inhale, lower the hips down again. 

  • Benefits: Strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.  This move also prepares your glutes to support your weight during day to day activities. 

  • Tips: Ensure your movements are controlled and coordinated with your breath. Don’t over-arch your back.

8) Cat-Cow Stretch 

  • How to: From all fours. On your inhale, arch your back, as you use your eyes to look toward the ceiling (Cow).  On your exhale, round your back, tucking your chin (Cat) and lightly wrap your core. 

  • Benefits: C Section shelf exercises like this help mobilize the scar and increase spinal mobility.

  • Tips: Move gently and avoid jerky movements during your C Section shelf exercises.  Use a smaller range of motion if you feel any pain in your scar.  Connect to your breath. 

9) Wall Push-Ups

  • How to: Stand facing a wall. Place your hands wide on the wall and perform a push-up through your exhale.  

  • Benefits: Strengthens the chest and upper body without straining the core.

  • Tips: Keep your core engaged through your exhale.  Look for this activation in your pecs and front of chest muscles.  If not, make adjustments to your arm width.  

10) Side Lying or Standing Leg Lifts

  • How to: Lie on your side or stand holding onto a chair for support. On your exhale, lift one leg to the side, then back down and inhale to reset. 

  • Benefits: Strengthens the outer glutes, thighs and hips to provide pelvic and core stability.

  • Tips: Keep the movements controlled and connected to your breath. 

11) Arm Circles

  • How to: Stand or sit, extend arms out to the side. Make small, medium and then large circles forwards and then backward.

  • Benefits: Increases shoulder mobility and strength.  Mobilize the upper body. 

  • Tips: If you feel any pain or strain, reduce the size of the circles.  Stay connected to your breath. 

Remember, the journey to full recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient with your body and prioritize listening to what your body feels and needs above all. As you incorporate these C Section workouts and C Section stretches into your daily routine, you’ll gradually see improvements in strength and overall well-being. In order to optimize your recovery, it's beneficial to consult with a postpartum fitness coach like myself before starting your C Section rehab exercises. I’m currently offering a FREE consultation to people who are looking for guidance and advice, please click on the link in the menu above.

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