Restore Your Core 5 Essential Core Exercises After C-Section

5 Essential Core Exercises After C-Section

Restore Your Core Promotion

5 Essential Core Exercises After C-Section

By Lauren Ohayon 12/20/2023

4 Min Read


Pregnancy and delivery are a massive undertaking. Your body has to adapt and expand to allow the baby to grow, and having a C-section means you face a whole host of additional challenges, especially when it comes to recovery. Your body deserves some tender loving care to recover, and it can be tricky to know how to exercise after a c-section. We’ve created this article to guide you through a series of safe and effective core exercises tailored for post-C-section recovery, eliminating the guesswork.  

In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of rebuilding strength and stability in your core and offer insights, tips, and a step-by-step guide to our five essential core exercises. These exercises are custom-made to tackle the unique hurdles of C-section recovery. We want to support you in your post-C-section recovery journey with our thoughtful and intentional approach.

woman after C-section

The Importance Of Gentle Exercise

Following a C-section, ensuring that you engage in exercises that are both safe and effective is vital for the healing process. A Cesarean section (C-section) is a major surgical procedure that leaves a lasting impact on your body, particularly on the abdominal muscles. The incision and healing process can influence the strength and function of your core. At RYC®, we know that understanding these effects is essential to crafting a tailored approach to C-section recovery.

In the initial postpartum period, when your body is healing, the emphasis needs to be on gentle, mindful exercises. Movements that help to gradually engage and strengthen the abdominal muscles without compromising the healing process. Taking a slow and steady approach is essential for a smooth recovery.

Before you start any core exercises post-Cesarean, it’s crucial to consider your individual recovery timeline, consult with your healthcare provider, and understand your body’s signals. By prioritizing your individual needs, your post-C-section fitness routine will be effective and, more importantly, safe.

Are you looking for safe and restorative exercises to heal from pelvic floor symptoms?

Learn more about the RYC program

Are you looking for safe and restorative exercises to heal from pelvic floor symptoms?

Learn more about the RYC program

5 Essential Core Exercises After C-Section

Rebuilding core strength after a C-section can be tricky, but when you take a considered and gradual approach, the results will come.

You must consult with your doctor and get clearance before starting any kind of workout program. We recommend the 5-5-5 step postpartum approach (5 days of rest, 5 days within reach of your bed, 5 days within a short distance from your bed) and also strongly recommend waiting until you are at least 8 weeks postpartum before attempting these exercises.

These 5 essential core exercises are designed to be a stepping stone back into exercise to start your post-C-section recovery. They will help you rebuild strength and resilience in your core muscles without pushing too hard. Remember, slow and steady wins this race, so stick to our short workouts until you feel strong enough to move on. Find out more about postpartum workout plans here.

These 5 exercises form the building blocks for your recovery and are designed to target and revitalize your core muscles, ensuring a safe and effective post-C-section recovery:

  • Seated Candles Breath
  • Wall Plank
  • Modified Bird Dog
  • Reverse Marching 
  • Pelvic Tilt with Glute Bridge 

1. Seated Candles Breath:

  • Begin in a comfortable seated position, in a chair or on the floor with pelvis supported by a block or bolster.
  • Keep your spine neutral; you don’t want to be rounding your shoulders or tucking your pelvis under.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth, imagine you’re blowing out 100 candles on a birthday cake.
  • Focus on the quality of your breath, making each exhale deliberate and controlled.
  • Repeat the inhale-exhale cycle for several breaths, and notice that your core responds to the exhale by drawing in.

2. Wall Plank:

  • Stand facing a wall, approximately arms-length away.
  • Place your hands flat against the wall at shoulder height, shoulder-width apart.
  • Step one foot back so your feet are staggered, and you are in a high lunge with the front knee slightly bent.
  • Maintain a neutral spine as you exhale, blowing out candles and pushing your hands firmly into the wall. You should feel your core working.
  • Hold this position for a few breath cycles as you continue pushing into the wall; remember to breathe.
  • Repeat 4-6 times alternating front legs.

3. Modified Bird Dog:

  • Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  • Keep your spine in a neutral position, don’t tuck your pelvis under.
  • Begin with the candles breath feeling your core respond and lift and extend your right leg straight back, reaching it behind you. 
  • Don’t let your body shift to the side. Keep your toes pointing down toward the floor, extending your heel away from your head and your head away from your heel, creating length in your spine.
  • Hold the extended position for a moment, focusing on your breath; every candles exhale is an opportunity to connect with the core.
  • Repeat on the other side. Repeat 6-8 times on each side.

When you feel ready and can feel your core working, you can progress to adding the opposite arm.

  • When the right leg is extended, reach your left arm straight forward. Aim to have your arm in line with your head, reaching the hand away from your heel.
  • Hold the extended position for a moment, focusing on your breath. Remember, every candles exhale is an opportunity to connect with the core.
  • Hold for a few breath cycles and gently lower your right leg and left arm.
  • Perform the same sequence with your left leg and right arm. Repeat 4-6 times per side

4. Modified Reverse Marching:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Find a neutral pelvis with the natural curve of the lumbar spine intact.
  • Practice candles breath in this position, feeling your core respond to the exhale.
  • When you feel ready, begin to exhale and lift one foot off the floor, bringing the bent knee towards the chest until the shin is parallel to the floor.
  • Place the foot back on the floor and alternate with the other leg.
  • Always start by exhaling to recruit the core.
  • Repeat 6-8 times per leg 

5. Pelvic Tilts to Glute Bridge

Pelvic Tilt

  • Lie on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor.
  • Tilt your pubic bone gently toward your belly button, flattening your lower back to the floor.
  • Create a slight arch in your lower back by tilting your pubic bone away from your belly button.
  • Alternate between these positions without using force from your feet.
  • Repeat 10-12 times.

Once comfortable, transition to the Glute Bridge.

  • Tilt your pubic bone towards your belly button and flatten your back to the floor.
  • Push your feet into the floor to lift your pelvis slowly while maintaining the pelvic tilt.
  • Keep your ribs on the floor, focusing on feeling the exercise in your glutes.
  • Repeat 6-8 times.

Remember to start every movement with a candles exhale.

Try incorporating these exercises into your routine gradually, starting with a few repetitions and increasing as your strength improves. Always listen to your body and consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any post-C-section exercise regimen. Want more help with your postpartum recovery? Take a look at our 12-week program here.

Exercise Schedule

Creating a Balanced Exercise Schedule

Finding the right balance is crucial to a successful post-C-section recovery journey. Start by looking at your schedule and energy levels – be realistic. Aim for short, regular workouts, creating a routine you can commit to.


Consistency is the cornerstone of post-C-section recovery. Establish a routine that works for you, whether it’s a few minutes a day or longer sessions a few times a week. Consistent engagement with these exercises helps create muscle memory, slowly but surely building up that core strength.

Listening to Your Body:

Attune yourself to the signals your body sends. If you experience discomfort or strain during any exercise, change/modify or discontinue it. Pay attention to how your body responds to different movements, and make sure you prioritize comfort and gradual progress over pushing yourself too hard.

Progressively Increasing Intensity:

As your strength improves, it’s natural to want to challenge yourself more. Safely increase the intensity by adding repetitions or exploring advanced variations of the exercises. However, progress should be gradual to avoid overdoing it. Listen to your body’s cues and only do more when you feel ready. This gradual approach means you will have sustainable and injury-free progress in your post-C-section fitness journey.

Incorporating these exercises into your routine is a personal journey so feel free to tweak things based on how you’re feeling and your recovery. Always consult your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your exercise routine. Remember, the goal is not only to restore core strength and function, but to do so in a way that respects and supports your body throughout the entire post-C-section recovery process.

Besides the exercise workouts, think about including some gentle walks (no hiking just yet) and mindful stretches into your routine. Keep yourself hydrated, and make sure you are eating a nutrient-rich diet to support your overall healing process. Your recovery is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Embrace the pace that feels right for you. 

You don’t have to live in

fear, pain or discomfort

Get back the confidence + lifestyle you love.

You don’t have to live in

fear, pain or discomfort

Get back the confidence + lifestyle you love.


Remember that you are laying the foundations here for more demanding and intense  activities later in your recovery. A strong core supports you during daily activities, improves your posture and helps your resilience and confidence. 

Embrace your journey with patience and self-compassion — please be kind to yourself! Celebrate every milestone along the way and understand that you are making amazing progress, however long it takes you. Remember you are healing from major abdominal surgery AND taking care of a tiny person — you’re doing a great job. By supporting your own recovery and prioritizing your healing, you’ll be back doing what you love before you know it. 

If you are looking for a no-BS, helpful recovery program for your postpartum recovery, consider checking out our 12-week program here: made by women, for women.

faq word with wooden cubes

FAQs: Core Exercises After C-Section

1. What are the best exercises after a C-section?
The best core exercises after a C-section prioritize safety and effectiveness. Pelvic tilts, glute bridge, modified plank and heel slides are excellent choices. Ensure you consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine.

2. How soon can I start core exercises post C-section?
It’s crucial to wait for your healthcare provider’s approval, usually around 8-10 weeks after a C-section. Initiate with gentle movements like pelvic tilts, gradually progressing as your body heals.

3. Are there specific core exercises to avoid after a C-section?
Yes, certain exercises like crunches and twists may strain the abdominal area. Focus on low-impact, controlled movements initially, and avoid exercises that cause discomfort or pain.

4. Can I incorporate core exercises into my routine if I had multiple C-sections?
Yes, but it’s essential to proceed with caution and prioritize your body’s recovery. Start with gentle exercises and consult with your healthcare provider to ensure the safety of your post-C-section fitness routine.

5. How frequently should I perform core exercises post C-section?
Begin with 2 — 3 sessions per week, gradually increasing frequency as your strength improves. Consistency is key, but always listen to your body and avoid overdoing it.

6. What are the long-term benefits of core strengthening after a C-section?
Long-term benefits include improved posture, enhanced stability in daily activities, and a resilient core. Strengthening the core post-C-section contributes to overall well-being and supports your body in various physical endeavors.

7. Can I do core exercises after a Cesarean if I have diastasis recti?
Yes, certain core exercises can be modified to accommodate diastasis recti. Focus on movements that engage the transverse abdominis. Take a look at our diastasis recti page for more information here.

8. Are there specific exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor after a C-section?
Yes, exercises like pelvic tilts and all exercises in our Restore Your Core® program contribute to pelvic floor strength. Exercises like Kegels should be avoided because they don’t take the whole body into consideration and often cause more harm than good.

9. How do I know if I’m doing the core exercises correctly after a C-section?
Start with gentle movements, and pay attention to your body’s response. Check out our Restore Your Core® Facebook group for more tips and advice to ensure proper form and technique.

10. Can I combine core exercises with other forms of post-C-section recovery activities?
Absolutely! Combining core exercises with activities like gentle walks and stretches enhances overall recovery. Ensure a well-rounded approach that supports both your physical and mental well-being.