Perhaps you planned your c-section all along as I did with my youngest. Or perhaps you had something more similar to the delivery of my firstborn, and you had to have an emergency c-section.
Planned or not, it IS major abdominal surgery. And your body needs time to recover.
You shouldn’t be doing any exercises (aside from light walking) until your postpartum checkup. That will be in about 6 to 8 weeks after your c-section.
Once that happens, you might run off to the gym with glee, dropping your little angel in your husband’s lap as you hurry back to the life you knew before.
Not so fast.
Some of those abdominal exercises you relied on before becoming a mom are not the best idea. At least not right now. Let’s talk about them and what you can (and should!) do instead.
How long after a c-section can you do sit-ups?
Maybe you feel great, and that’s wonderful! But please know you may not feel so great if you jump right back in with the intensity you put forth into your workouts before the baby.
It is far better to ease into your workouts and take it slow for 12 weeks after having a baby, regardless of how you deliver.
That’s because c-sections or vaginal deliveries can both see diastasis recti. You can read my posts on that and how to check for it. You don’t want to wind up making the gap between your abdominal muscles wider, or it will take you longer to get that area looking the way you want it.
Sit-ups are definitely not something you want to start doing any sooner than 12 weeks. And if you have diastasis recti, you do not want to do them until you correct it. Instead, you should do the exercises that help you eliminate diastasis recti (you can find out about those in my other posts!).
When can I start doing crunches after a c-section?
Sorry love, but crunches are much the same kind of thing. It’s an abdominal-strengthening exercise that causes your stomach to bulge out just like sit-ups.
You shouldn’t do bicycles, planks, or leg raises, as they stress your abdominal wall.
Diastasis recti or not, you should gently go into ab exercises after your c-section. For those of you who delivered vaginally, you should simply confirm your abs are not separated first, though most doctors often encourage you to wait about 12 weeks for abdominals.
That doesn’t mean you can’t build strength safely. First, let me tell you what to avoid after your c-section, followed by what you CAN do.
Don’t do these exercises after your c-section!
Sorry, but crunches and sit-ups are both on the don’t do list. They aren’t unsafe, but it could worsen if you’re unsure about your diastasis recti situation.
Doing planks is also a bad idea. You can, however, do them with your knees bent. Please wait on this until after your postpartum checkup though.
But please, do these exercises after your c-section!
Again, I must caution you not to do any exercises until you speak to your doctor and have your postpartum checkup. Once you do, you can try activities to help get your body back in shape.
Moves that include the bridge (where you lie on your back), tabletop (which is just what it sounds like), sliding leg glides (while lying down), pelvic tilts, modified planks, side planks, and wall sits are all good exercises after your c-section.
I recommend starting with about 5 to 10 repetitions and then slowly increasing it as you rebuild your abdominal strength.
Once you have corrected diastasis recti and you have been postpartum 12 or more weeks, it should be ok to go back to doing those crunches and sit-ups. However, with so many other ways to safely engage your core and abdominals, you may prefer these other exercises as the way to shape up again.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.