The following exercises will help you recover from your operation as soon as possible.  You will be instructed in these exercises by a physiotherapist.  After your operation, you will be encouraged and assisted with your exercises by both the nursing staff and physiotherapy staff.

Deep Breathing Exercises

The anaesthetic that you breathe during your operation, can irritate your lungs and cause them to produce phlegm.

After any abdominal surgery, we tend to breathe shallowly, and this may cause areas of your lungs to collapse down through lack of air, particularly the bases of your lungs.  Therefore, breathing exercises aim to prevent areas of collapse in your lungs (which can lead to chest infections), and help to move phlegm.


  • Take a slow deep breath in, as big as you can (you should be able to feel your lower ribs expanding).

  • Hold that breath for a count of three

  • Relax and breathe out

  • Do this exercise at least 5 times every hour when you are awake

  • Remember try not to smoke, as this will further irritate your lungs

Coughing is necessary to clear any phlegm from your lungs.  Do this immediately after your breathing exercises as they help to move any phlegm.


  • Use a pillow, folded towel or your hands to support your wound

  • Bend your knees up if in bed

  • Lean forward if sitting or on the side of the bed or in a chair

  • One or two strong coughs will be more effective and less painful/tiring than smaller ineffective coughs

  • Huffing can be used if coughing is too difficult.  Take a deep breath in and huff 3 times on the outward breath