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Home » Blog » I did not expect to look like THIS a week after my c-section. Here is what I did to fix it.

I did not expect to look like THIS a week after my c-section. Here is what I did to fix it.

Everything is about expectations and one thing I was not expecting after giving birth was for my tummy to still be SOOOO big! Obviously I knew I will have put on on weight but I still looked like I was in my third trimester, despite my 10lb-er no longer being in my tummy.

I’m sharing this, not to scare people, but more to raise awareness and prepare people. To begin it really threw me off and I wasn’t expecting to have to wear my maternity clothes after giving birth. Although maybe I was just unprepared, I had packed my pre-pregnancy leggings to wear the day after giving birth, there was no way that was happening!! Unsurprisingly, I was excited to begin my post c section core exercises to re-engage and strengthen my abs ready to get back to fully fledged exercising!

Lots of people asked my how I got back into exercise after my c section so here a list of exercises that I did in the first 6 weeks, plus a few nuggets of advice to get you back to peak fitness and aid your C-section recovery:

Breathing exercises: doing post c-section breathing exercises is recommended to reduce the risk of chest infections during periods of limited mobility, practice deep breathing. You can do these anytime from when you are back on the ward.

  1. Begin by positioning your hands on your ribcage, just below your chest, while sitting (or standing) in an upright posture.
  2. Inhale through your nose, sensing your ribcage and tummy expanding. As you exhale through your nose, contract your pelvic floor (envision the pubic bone and coccyx coming towards each other and lifting up), feel your ribcage returning to its initial position, and focus on drawing your tummy button toward your ribs.
  3. Relax and release tension in your pelvic floor.
  4. Repeat this process several times throughout the day. A good way to remember to do it is using habit stacking – for example do this after each nappy change.

Coughing and sneezing: you may experience pain and discomfort while coughing or sneezing. Minimise this by supporting your stitches with your hands or a rolled-up towel while leaning forward.

Circulation exercises: guard against clot formation by performing gentle lower leg exercises – point and flex your feet 15 times, followed by circles with your feet. Repeat these along with your breathing exercises throughout the day.

Core exercises: start re-engaging your core once you feel ready with this core exercise. Support your lower stomach with your hands, inhale and on the exhale make a ‘sssss’ sound and feel your core muscles engage for 3 seconds and then relax. When you feel ready you can add a kegel in. Repeat this sequence 5 times, gradually increasing the duration. Kegels after a c-section can help strengthen your pelvic floor and prevent any unwanted leaks!

Rolling over in bed: before moving, brace your lower stomach, bend your knees, and roll with your arm reaching in the direction you’re turning. Consider supporting your stomach with your hand at the beginning.

Getting in and out of bed: avoid the ‘sit-up’ movement to allow your stomach muscles to recover. Roll onto your side, push yourself into sitting, and stand tall when walking.

Going to the toilet: after the catheter is removed, exercise your pelvic floor muscles by doing kegels. To do a kegel exercise, contract your pelvic floor muscles as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine (but don’t actually practice it when you are midflow!). You should feel a lifting sensation in your pelvic area. Funny story about the catheter – about 12 hours after having Theo (after a very long and traumatic birth), the nurse asked if I had been to the toilet and I said ‘that is funny, now your mention it, I haven’t needed it at all today’, I was totally oblivious to even having the catheter in, ha!

Pelvic Floor Exercises aka kegels: Even through you have not delivered vaginally, your pregnancy may have progressed as if you were going to and either way you have carried the weight of the baby so you need to strengthen your pelvic floor. To do this do slow kegels (hold for up to 10 seconds, repeat 3 times) and fast kegels (hold for 1-3 seconds, repeat 10 times).

Going home and being more active: rest at home while continuing pelvic floor exercises and gradually increase the repetitions. Go for short walks each day, gradually increasing pace and distance. Avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks (the guidance is don’t lift anything heavier than your baby which can be very difficult when you already have a toddler) and activities causing strain in the initial weeks.

Monitoring for complications: keep an eye out for signs of wound infection or persistent pain, redness, and discharge from the scar. Numbness or increased tightness is normal initially, but if it persists, consult with your midwife.

When people ask me is ‘when can I get back to fitness after having a C-section?’. The official answer is once you have been signed off at your 6-8 week check but there is a lot more you can (and should be) doing before that in terms of getting back to fitness after a C-section. Recovering from a C-section involves more than just physical healing – it’s about regaining your strength and embracing a new chapter in motherhood. A C-section is a major operation and requires time and patience before you are ready to do ‘real exercise’, some people may need a bit more time.

In those initial weeks, it’s common to experience discomfort when moving, getting in and out of bed, or engaging in activities that strain your tummy. The anaesthesia may leave you feeling more fatigued than usual, and in some cases, nausea might accompany it. Despite these challenges, initiating movement as early as possible is crucial for circulation, breathing, and preventing stiffness.

After 6-8 weeks: you can begin to do exercise as you knew it before pregnancy. The key is to listen to your body. Start easy and make it harder as your feel up to it. One thing to be aware of is ‘doming’, if you notice your tummy doing this then you are putting too much pressure on it. Stop immediately and change exercises.

Regaining your strength post C-section is a journey – listen to your body, embrace the support around you, and celebrate each step forward in your recovery. Check out The Mama Plan which has workouts designed to re-engage and strengthen your core muscles by doing short daily workouts. You can do them your pjs or even while involve your baby in the baby or sling workouts designed for when they just don’t want to be away from you!

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