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Activity Restraints During Your C Section Recovery

After you've had a Cesarean section, you may be wondering how much you can do and how soon you can do it. Your doctor will give you some information and general guidelines; the rest you do yourself. These tips are for new moms or moms to be who aren't sure how to plan the coming months—aerobics or just coffee with friends? Hiking the Himalayas or watching the classic films you've always wanted to see? Read on!

1. Your activity level will be very, very low for at least a month. You've not only created another human being (you goddess, you!), you've also had major surgery. Your body has been incised right down to the uterus, and it's going to take weeks for the internal and external sutures to heal. You will be told not to climb stairs, not to lift your baby in and out of the car and not to carry anything heavier than a coffee cup if you can help it for the next six weeks. Your abdomen, being right in the center of you, controls the way your back and bowels work, and can be felt if you stretch your arms up over your head right now. Ask your doctor how soon after your C-section you can expect to start taking walks, and find out what a reasonable amount of time is for walking.

2. During pregnancy, you've probably used your growing belly to support grocery bags, and to boost you from soft couches: now you have the challenge of giving your abdomen a rest from its labor! When lifting your child, keep your arms close to your body and try to use your arm muscles instead of your abdominal muscles. Once your incision is healed, you can reverse the process and start using your abs more, but until then, it will help prevent adding strain to the incision.

3. Walking is the easiest and lowest impact exercise you can do outside of swimming, which may not be recommended until you've totally healed. Once your doctor gives you the okay, start strength training, which will help you build muscle and burn fat while increasing your overall metabolism. But don't try to hasten your recovery by doing too much too soon! And if you have pain, stop whatever you're doing.

4. Exercise with your baby. With delivery comes transportation issues. Push the stroller around the block, or look for a jogging stroller if you're a runner. Look for a postpartum exercise class that will help you get in shape and where you may be able to bring your baby, too.

5. Exercise with other grownups. Once you've completely healed, you can start aerobic exercises again to get your cardio fitness up and burn fat. Making exercise a priority is good for you on several levels: it gets you out of the house, lessening your chances of the Mommy Blues after giving birth; it puts you in touch with other adults for conversation and fun, and it boosts your mental as well as your physical health.

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