When you have a hysterectomy your doctor will remind you that you need to avoid lifting anything during your recovery. You may be wondering what exactly “anything” means, what is considered “too much,” and when is lifting okay again? When you have a total hysterectomy (meaning the uterus, cervix, and ovaries will all be removed) the top of your vagina will be delicately reconstructed, sutured, and sewn shut. Even though you can’t see this area, it needs to be treated carefully– just like any other surgical incision.
When normally lifting an object that’s just a few pounds, you probably don’t feel anything going on in your body. But when you lift something 5, 10, 20 or 30 pounds there is significant pressure put on your core. As you stand up there’s significant pressure in the pelvic area and it pushes down on all those delicate areas that were just operated on. The pressure on that area could tear sutures, tissues, or ligaments that haven’t fully healed yet.
So how much lifting is too much? Anything that puts pressure on your core muscles should be avoided until you’re completely healed. We recommend that for the first two weeks after surgery you do not lift anything more than 5-10 pounds (this could be a gallon of milk or even your purse). In addition, avoid tasks like vacuuming, carrying bags of groceries, mowing a lawn, pulling laundry out of the washer, moving the trash bins, washing the car, etc. As each week goes by you can increase your movement and weight lifting little by little. After about four to six weeks it may be okay to lift 15-20 pounds, but you will need to start slowly and see how you feel.
So grab your spouse or friend and ask for their help– they’ll probably be delighted to assist.