Deep breathing exercises

Sitting fully upright tends to be the best position for these exercises. Ensure you have adequate pain relief as deep breathing can be uncomfortable:

1. Support your abdomen with a towel or a pillow and your arms, bring your knees up slightly if they are in bed and lower your shoulders.

2. Breathe in deeply, feeling your lower chest expand as far as possible. Try to keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.

3. Hold the breath for up to three seconds.

4. Repeat this four times and then return to breathing normally.


The breathing exercises should be followed by a cough.

Do not suppress a cough as it is necessary to clear any secretions from your lungs.

To cough effectively place your arms with a rolled up towel or pillow over your abdomen/wound for support then bring your knees up slightly and lower your shoulders to reduce the strain on your wound sites.



Repeat the breathing exercises and coughing at regular intervals for the first few days following your operation.

  • Relaxation - try to relax and not worry about your operation
  • Smoking and alcohol - giving up or cutting down will help speed up your recovery and reduce your risk of developing complications. If you would like help to stop smoking please let us know.

If your operation involves having a stoma you will be referred to the stoma team. They will see you before surgery to discuss having a stoma. They will answer any questions you may have and demonstrate the use of stoma appliances. They will also put a mark on your abdomen to mark the site of the stoma - this may happen on the day of surgery. The stoma team will support you both during your stay in hospital and after discharge.

Incentive Spirometry

This will be given out in clinic and shown how to use.