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5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Core After C-Section

Pregnancy causes physical changes as the body adjusts to accommodate the growing baby. Your core muscles-the muscles at the centre of the body that support the abdomen, pelvis and lower back- need lots of love and care to help them get back in shape. Many women suffer from broader midriff after pregnancy because they do not pay enough attention to their core. Just losing weight will not suffice; you must target your core to help it heal well and permanently.

The method of delivery also affects your core. When you deliver via C-section, your core is cut to deliver the baby. Recovering from this trauma is not a small feat. It needs time and the correct exercises to help restore its strength.

Book an online appointment with Dr. Jyoti Ravindra Dighe for Pregnancy & Gynecology related issues.

What Happens to Your Core During A C-Section?

First, let’s understand what happens to your core during a C-section.

When you undergo a C-section, the doctor makes an abdominal and uterine incision to get the baby out. They cut through seven layers of the abdominal wall and uterus to deliver the baby and then double-layer stitching to suture the incisions.

These incisions take a few weeks to heal. You may need some support to get up for the first few weeks. Lying down and sitting up can be difficult after having a baby and surgery due to weakened core muscles.

How Can I Get My Core Strength Back After a C-Section?

To improve core strength, activating and strengthening the specific muscles that make up your core is essential. This can be achieved through safe exercises that target these muscles and help to build strength and stability.

Five Best Core Exercises

Numerous exercises work on different parts of the core. These are the top three safe and effective core exercises to help strengthen your core after a C-section:

1. Transverse Abdominal Breathing

It is vital to learn transverse abdominal breathing to promote core healing after a C-section. Proper breathing techniques can prevent further damage to core muscles during exercise. The transverse muscles are set deep inside the core. They wrap the trunk from front to back like a corset. So, they need to be strong to support you when you exercise.

How to:
  • Lay down on your back, flat on the ground.
  • Ensure your lower back is on the floor and does not arch.
  • Breathe in deeply and expand your stomach as you fill it with air.
  • Contract the pelvic muscles and bring them together as you exhale.
  • Your lungs deflate as you expel all the air, and your stomach will draw inside.
  • Maintain this position for a few seconds before releasing.
  • Repeat this breathing. You can do three sets of 8 or 10 repetitions each.

2. Kegels

Kegel exercises are highly effective for activating and strengthening the muscles in the pelvic region. It helps reduce incontinence after childbirth. A urinary catheter will be in place after a

C-section for a day or two. Kegels can help regain muscle strength after the catheter is removed.

How to:
  • Sit on a chair and ensure your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Now contract your pelvic floor muscles like you are trying to stop passing urine.
  • Contract and pull all the muscle inwards and hold for a few counts.
  • You can start with 5 seconds and move on to contracting the muscles for even 30 seconds.
  • Now breathe deeply and relax the muscles slowly.
  • Repeat this 10 times per set. You can do 2 or 3 sets to start with.
  • You can do this even twice a day. Ensure you relax your muscles after every set.
  • You can do these exercises seated at the edge of the chair or cross-legged on the floor.

3. Leg Slides

When it comes to your core muscles, it’s essential to strengthen the upper and lower abdominal muscles. Strengthening your lower abs can improve bladder and lower body control. It can be difficult initially, as your C-section incision will be closer to your pubic bone. With consistent effort over time, you can regain control and strength of these muscles.

How to:
  • Lay flat on your back, with your legs bent at your knees and feet flat on the ground.
  • Draw a deep breath in and as you slowly breathe out, slide one leg out till it is straight on the floor.
  • The other leg will remain bent, and your abdominal muscles should be drawn in without coming upwards.
  • Repeat the same on the other leg.
  • Do this for 24 reps, 12 on each side for one set.
  • When you extend your leg, ensure your back does not arch but stays in contact with the ground.

4. Glute Bridge

Apart from the abdominal muscles, focus on your glutes too. The glutes must be strong to support your abdomen when working your core muscles.

How to:
  • Lay down flat on your back with your legs bent at your knees
  • With your hands by your side, palm facing down, and feet flat on the ground, lift your hip.
  • Tighten your glute and core muscles to form a slope – from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Push your hip up as much as possible and hold for 5 counts
  • Relax your muscles and get back flat on the ground.
  • Repeat for 3 sets with 10 repetitions each.
  • As your core and glute muscles strengthen, you can increase your hold from 5 to 10 seconds each.

5. Planks

Planks are much better than crunches or sit-ups. If your core muscles are separated, doing crunches or sit-ups will lead to coning and delay the healing. The gap between the muscles will remain, making it difficult to lose all that fat and compress your uterus again.

How to:
  • Get down on the floor, balancing your weight on your forearms and toes. The rest of your body should be in a straight line.
  • Draw your core muscles in and hold them tight.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds without moving or raising your hip. Your hip should not sag, either.
  • Relax the muscles and get down on the floor.
  • Repeat for 2 more sets of 10 seconds each.
  • You can increase the hold to 30 seconds as your muscles get stronger

Points to Remember Before Starting Exercise After C-Section

After experiencing trauma, it’s important to remember that your muscles may be weak. Strengthening them will support your body and help you perform regular activities comfortably. Before starting core exercises, it’s essential to check for abdominal wall separation and heal it.


1. How long after your C-section can you do core exercises?

If you had no complications during or after your C-section, you could start exercising six weeks after the surgery, with the doctor’s approval. You can slowly increase the intensity of the exercises as your muscles strengthen.

2. What types of exercises can I safely do two weeks after a C-section?

Start with breathing exercises to activate your core. You can walk and move on to slow jogging and Pilates. You can even start swimming after your incision heals.

3. Can I sit on the floor two months after a C-section?

You can slowly start sitting on the floor 45 days post your C-section. Use sufficient support while sitting down and getting back up.

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