Empowered Recovery: Self-Care Tips for Post-Gynae Surgery

The choice to undergo surgery is often a challenging one. At times, the option may be presented unexpectedly, while in other instances, you may have had the opportunity to mentally prepare for it. A patient who is well-informed and prepared is likely to experience a less distressing pre and post-operative process.


Experiencing surgery can bring about emotional highs (Feeling things like “I’m cured”, “It’s done”, or “I can move on”) and lows (“I’m still in pain”, “I can’t lead a normal life”, “I need more treatment”). Recent research shows that emotions can contribute to or even intensify pain. It’s not solely the traumatised or surgically-repaired tissues affected; emotions result from chemical reactions in our bodies.

Having a positive outlook has been proven to improve results. When you believe in the effectiveness of something, it is more likely to succeed compared to negative thoughts or catastrophic thinking. Therefore, seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty may contribute to a more positive experience during your recovery.

Make a list of things that bring you joy. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, turn to this list to bring some joy and release your happy hormones or endorphins.


Neuro-Anatomy 101:

Our autonomic nervous system controls our internal organs and operates mostly unconsciously. It has two branches: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS or ‘fight or flight’ response system, triggers our stress responses, leading to an increased heart rate and blood flow to the muscles, and decreased blood flow to the skin. On the other hand, the PNS is responsible for the stimulation of “rest and digest” activities that take place when the body is in a resting state.

What does this mean for self-care recovery?

On average, adults take about 20,000 breaths daily. The diaphragm, or the breathing muscle, connects to our breastbone, ribs, spine, abdominal muscles, and pelvic floor. Mindful breathing helps manage pain and control bowel and bladder function, movement, stress levels, and mood regulation.

Focus on how you breathe.

Are your upper ribs moving more than your lower ribs? Are your shoulders hunched near your ears? Does your belly exhibit more movement than your lower ribs?

Recall a stressful situation. How was your breathing? Do you remember it being shallower and faster? Fueled by cortisol and adrenaline, were you preparing for a fight or flight response?

Taking slow deep breaths helps you maintain control over your physiological functions by moving into a more PNS control status to focus on the present. It’s a simple yet effective technique! For added support, consider using a towel to splint your wounds while breathing.

Make every breath count – remain mindful and present.


Keeping active is just as important as resting post-surgery. Walking is particularly encouraged! Pace yourself and if you begin to feel tired, it is okay to rest. Adhere to the surgeon’s guidance regarding heavy lifting.

Other exercises you can consider after the urinary catheter is removed are gentle pelvic floor squeezes to help with swelling and discomfort. These exercises also aid in reconnecting the brain with these muscles as the impacts of medication, inactivity, and surgery wear off. Remember to engage your pelvic floor muscles when coughing, sneezing, or transitioning from bed or a chair to activate the core muscles.



As the saying of T.A. Webb goes, “a burden shared, is a burden halved”. Have you spoken to someone about your experience? You might be feeling isolated and vulnerable. This may be a good opportunity to open up to someone or a professional to help make sense of your journey and discover more ways to navigate your recovery. Remember, we’re here for you as well!



image: https://www.continence.org.au/


It’s common that bowel movements may take time to regulate. Your stools may be loose, or you could experience constipation. In either case, it’s important to respond to the urge. Straining or ignoring the call puts unnecessary downward pressure on recovering tissues.

While bowel function should regulate itself over time, manage it with an appropriate diet and sufficient fluid intake. If your stools are loose, eat high-fibre food and if your stool is firmer, maintain a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, along with at least two litres of water. (Type 3 or 4 stools on the Bristol stool chart is your goal!) Sometimes, using a footstool and wound support can help to pass a motion easily. If needed, consulting with a dietitian can provide more specific advice.


Getting into a routine can help provide a sense of certainty during an uncertain time. Take it day by day, but don’t forget to give yourself some self-care time by doing the following:

  • Exercise
  • Light chores
  • Things you love to do

Remember to seek help when needed and to be patient with yourself and those around you.

We hope these self-care tips for your gynae surgery help empower you on your road to recovery.

Please call or WhatsApp us at 9780 7274, or get in touch by emailing us at help@embracephysio.sg and we’ll be glad to see you.

Feel free to look through our website, where you can learn about other women’s health conditions we treat. This is a safe space where we can discuss how we can help you with physiotherapy.

Note: While I am a physiotherapist, I am not your personal physiotherapist. The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as personal medical advice.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_stool_scale
  2. https://www.webmd.com/lung/ss/slideshow-lung-facts-overview
  3. https://www.embracephysio.sg/what-is-a-womans-pelvic-floor
  4. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/852570-a-burden-shared-is-a-burden-halved
  5. https://psu.pb.unizin.org/psych425/chapter/744/
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