Around 25% of all births in the UK were delivered by section (2008). Some women have no choice and have to have a section, for others it’s an emergency procedure and for some it’s a choice. However it happens, recovery is different to a natural birth.
What is a c-section?
It’s an incision made horizontally, just above your pubic line. Most people think the abdominal muscles are cut (I did until I researched it!) however they aren’t. It’s the outer coating of the muscle, and the connective tissue in between the 6-pack (rectua abdominis) muscles that is cut. The incision is made on the outside of your body horizontally, and then your Linea Alba is puled apart (vertically) to gain access. The Linea Alba runs vertically down your stomach, and separates your six pack muscles in half, above and below your belly button. The outside incision is then sutured back together, but the inside tissue is not.
What about my core and pelvic floor?
If you elect to have a section, there’s a misconception that your pelvic floor will be fine. You might think that because your body won’t be going through the stages of labour and pushing out a baby, your pelvic floor won’t be affected. This is where you’re WRONG! Pregnancy itself puts tremendous pressure on your pelvic floor, as the weight of your developing baby gets bigger and bigger, and therefore weakens these muscles. So, it’s still very important that you strengthen your core, pelvic floor and legs/bum muscles during and after pregnancy, even if you elected to have a section. You also want to protect and help your pelvis remain strong so Pilates style exercises are essential to help with this
When can I return to exercise after a c-section?
A c-section is major surgery, so think about how muhc recover time you would need after abdominal surgery for example, you wouldnt’ go rushing back too soon would you. Make sure you have had your postnatal check up before your return to exercise, which, depending on your Doctor’s Practice/Surgery could be 6 weeks -10 weeks. Your midwife will also keep checking you and any questions should be directed to them. I believe postnatal women should return to exercise following a c-section, after medical clearance and when they feel ready. It’s major surgery after all, and your body will need time to heal. Whenever you return to exercise you will need to build it up, don’t go straight back to the levle of exercise you used to do 😉
What is recovery like after a c-section?
After a c-section, your recover time is longer than a natural birth, you may have a loss of sensation, a numbness in your abdominals especially around the scar area, and the scar tissue itself may reduce your ability to do certain movements completely pain-free. Your pelvic floor may take a little while to activate consciously too, but keep sending the signal from your brain to these muscles, and eventually, it will switch back on, I promise.
What exercise is safe after a c-section?
Postnatal-specific Pilates-based or core exercise is probably THE best form of exercise for any new mum to be doing, regardless of the type delivery. Pelvic floor and core activation work makes up the main focus of any postnatal recovery program if you’ve had your baby via section. I always perform a “Rec Check” to see if a separation is still existent in my clients abdominals, and our classes and DVD then use re-activation and re-education exercises to the pelvic floor and abdominals to help the muscles return to their original strength and fire properly. We also work on strengthening the thighs and bum as the pelvis is often still fragile and needs supporting. Correcting your posture is also key, you wouldn’t thik it but bad posture such as hunched shoulders can affect your “mummy tummy” area from becoming strong, toned and functioning properly.
Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix cure for strengthening the abdominals following a section. It can take months of training, careful instruction and lots of homework. If your abdominals aren’t assessed and addressed early following the correct procedures and using the correct techniques, then they may stay in a weakened state for the rest of your life, which can lead to poor posture, pelvic discomfort and lower back pain. The good news though, with the right assessment, instruction and homework, it is fixable.
Our “Beyond Your Bump” DVD will give you exercises and advice to help with your recovery postnatally.