exercise options for c-section mommies
We love posting our very do-able 10 minute workouts for you to do at home, but sometimes they require a bit of modification, depending on your body's state of health or stage of pregnancy/postpartum.
A comment on one recent workout sounded a lot like questions we sometimes get in Belly Bootcamp postnatal fitness classes. "Farheenw" asked:
"I tried the exercises this morning. They were good but I had a tough time with a few - any recommendations for some more low impact exercises as I had a c-section 3 months ago and wasn't comfortable doing jumping jacks or push-ups...thx!!"
Thanks Farheen. So you had a cesarean section! Well, so have at least 30% of us, according to statistics. There is plenty you can do and the best way to figure out what works for you is really through trial and error.
[Tweet "1 in 3 women have cesarean deliveries & might need exercise modifications to start working out after baby. Here's how to do it..."]
First, remember that recovery from a C-section is longer and more intensive than recovery from vaginal birth. According to the Mayo Clinic you should usually wait until you have seen your doctor or midwife for your 6-week postnatal checkup & received clearance to engage in regular activities:
"If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, it's generally safe to begin exercising as soon as you feel ready. If you had a C-section, extensive vaginal repair or a complicated birth, talk to your health care provider about when to start an exercise program."
So, you feel ready & your health care provider agrees? Based on the bodyweight exercises most of us do at home, here are my suggestions for modifying to ease up on a tender midsection after a cesarean birth. These suggestions are also great for modifying for joint conditions or for making a regular workout routine more pregnancy-friendly or more manageable for those who carry extra weight, are returning from injury or haven't been active in a long time.
Instead of a jumping jack (or other high impact cardio option)...
- Try jogging on the spot, still arcing your arms up and down as you jog, as you would in a jumping jack - the jogging is lower-impact and also less likely to make you pee your pants if you've got weakened pelvic floor muscles.
- If that's still too much, try a light, shallow squat, followed by a high knee, then another squat, followed by the other high knee, etc.
- Still too much? Simply march on the spot with knees as high as possible. Exhale every time you drive your knee up, & put a little bounce in your step if you can!
Instead of a plank (or crunches, sit ups, & other traditional abdominal exercises)...
- Switch to a side plank - on your forearm and knees (or your forearm and toes if the knees is too easy), lift your hips up off the ground and as high as possible as you extend your top arm up in the air. Hold as you would a regular plank but stop halfway to switch sides.
- If that's still too challenging, or to add variety, try a hover plank. Begin on hands and knees, then back your knees up slightly so they are just behind your hips. Flip your toes under and lift your knees just an inch off the ground, squeezing your belly up. Hold as you would a regular plank.
[Tweet "C-section delivery? Here's how to modify pushups, ab work, & cardio for your tender tummy."]
Instead of a push up...
- If you can do plank or crunches, your abs can definitely handle push ups - try doing them with your feet on the floor and hands on your dresser, desk, coffee table, etc. This will decrease the amount of weight on the torso and make it easier for your core so you can focus on the upper body work involved in push ups.
- If that is still too difficult or you can barely lower yourself and do an effective push up, do a wall push up. Place hands shoulder-width and shoulder-height on a wall, with feet just a foot or two away. Rise onto toes and perform push ups against wall. Wall push ups are actually great for your posture!
Instead of a jump squat (or other plyometric, high-impact strength move)...
- Try a drop squat. Begin with feet wide, toes turned slightly out. Drop down into the squat quickly and 'catch' yourself at the bottom, ideally with thighs about parallel to the ground. Be sure to push your bum back and keep your knees behind your toes. Press up through your heels carefully and repeat for desired reps or time.
- Try squatting or lunging and adding quarter reps (I describe them here!), or pulses, to increase the difficulty instead of impact.
Please feel free to send me your questions by comment below! Need some one-on-one help? Let us call you to chat about your goals.
Share your thoughts - what worked for you after c-section? What didn't?