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Pregnancy & ChildbirthWellness & PreventionTreatment & Care

Your Recovery: Activity
After surgery, during your hospital stay, you will start turning in bed, performing deep breathing exercises, and doing leg exercises. You should do these activities every two hours. Your nurse does not need to be present for you to do these exercises. Continue exercises and activity once you go home.

Deep breathing exercises help keep the small air sacs in your lungs open. You may be given an incentive spirometer, a small plastic device that is used to help measure how much air you can breathe in. Use a pillow to apply pressure to your abdomen or breast (site of surgery) when deep breathing, coughing or laughing to decrease discomfort.

Deep Breathing Exercises

  • Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose.
  • Expand your lungs as if gathering a breath to shout.
  • Hold your breath for 5 seconds.
  • Breathe out through your mouth slowly for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times every one - two hours.

Incentive Spirometer
If your doctor orders an incentive spirometer, your nurse will help you to use it.

  • Exhale completely; then close your lips around the mouthpiece with the mouthpiece held between your teeth.
  • Suck air inward through the mouthpiece. The goal is to be able to breathe in as much air after surgery as you did before surgery.
  • Hold your breath for 5 seconds.
  • Slowly let your breath out over a 5-second period.
  • Repeat 10 times every one - two hours.
  • Cough after 10 breaths are completed.

Position Changes
Turning in bed protects your skin by increasing blood flow to your skin surfaces and muscles. This prevents bedsores. You will need to turn in bed at least every two hours. If you had abdominal surgery, when lying on your side, a small towel rolled under your belly may help avoid a pulling sensation on the surgical site. A pillow between your legs or one behind your back may make you feel more comfortable.

Turning in Bed
Use your own strength to turn in bed. Plan to move slowly. Move shoulders and hips at the same time. Avoid twisting. Have staff or family place pillows behind your back and between your knees when you are lying on your side. If you had breast surgery, you maybe more comfortable on your back or unaffected side. Do not use pillows under the knees while lying on your back because this can cause blood clots.

Exercise increases blood flow. Leg exercises lower the risk of getting blood clots after surgery. Other exercises can help decrease your pain. Do the following exercises every one to two hours until you are able to walk five times in the hallway each day:

Ankle Pumps and Ankle Circles (Repeat each 10 times)
Point your toes up and down to move your feet back and forth.
Make circles with your feet.

General Exercises (Repeat each 5 times)

  • Slide your heels up and down on the bed, one leg at a time.
  • Gently push your knees into the bed to tighten your upper thigh muscles.
  • Gently squeeze your buttocks together.
  • Roll your shoulders front to back, making circles.
  • Bend your neck gently from side to side.
  • Turn your head to look over your left shoulder. Then turn your head to look over your right shoulder.
  • Flex fingers and make circles with your hands.

Walking is the best medicine you can give yourself. Walking improves blood flow, helps keep your lungs clear, and increases bowel activity. The morning after your surgery, you will get out of bed to walk, bathe and sit in a bedside chair.
The staff will be present until you are comfortable getting out of bed and walking on your own. You may feel some weakness, nausea, or pain when you get out of the bed the first few times. This will get better as your activity level increases. Your doctor will order the number of times you should walk and sit in the bedside chair. Get out of bed by rolling to your side, dropping your legs and pushing up with your arms. For breast surgery patients, use your unaffected arm to push up. This avoids a “pulling” feeling.

After Surgery at Woman's: Activity/Exercise | Bowel Function | Bladder Function

After Going Home: Eating and Drinking |Bowel Function | Personal Care | Activity/Exercise  | Scar Massage