6 Facts about C-Sections
This is something I can relate too. Having had an emergency c-section myself, I know it can be daunting and frightening when recovering, knowing what you can and can’t do straightaway, so you can make a speedy recover. It’s a major operation which you don’t really think about at the time. So I say relax and enjoy your time and don’t rush into anything to soon.
Sometimes, for many reasons, women have to deliver their baby via c-section. Some women elect to have a section, and others go through the stages of labour and then deliver their baby via section. Around 25% of all births in the UK were delivered by section (2008).
What is a c-section?
So, what is a c-section? Well, it’s an incision made horizontally, just above your pubic hair line. Contrary to belief, your abdominal muscles AREN’T actually cut with this incision, it’s the outer coating of the muscle, and the cling film type structure in between the 6-pack muscles that is. The incision is made on the outside of your body horizontally, and then your surgeon gently peels your Linea Alba 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 cling film/Linea Alba is not.
Once a c-section always a c-section?
If you have your first baby by c-section, this does not necessarily mean that any future baby will have to be delivered in this way. Vaginal birth after a previous c-section can and does happen. This will depend on your own particular circumstances. Do discuss your hopes and plans for any other deliveries with your doctor or midwife.
I know I’m having a c-section, so I don’t need to do pelvic floor exercises, right?
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, 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 pelvic floor during and after pregnancy, even if you elected to have a section.
If you’ve gone through the stages of labour, and after several unsuccessful attempts of trying to deliver naturally, you then have a section, think about what muscles have been stressed throughout this ordeal? That’s right – the abdominals and the pelvic floor! You may have been at it for hours, pushing and pushing and putting a immense amount of pressure on these areas. Put simply, it’s your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles which helped you deliver your baby.
When can you return to exercise following a c-section?
You will need to have had your Doctor’s Check up before your return to exercise after a c-section, which, depending on your Doctor’s Practice/Surgery could be 8 to 10 weeks, so give them a call to see what their guidelines are. I believe postnatal women should return to exercise following a c-section, when they feel ready. It’s major surgery after all, and your body will need time to heal.
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, Yoga or core exercise is probably THE best form of exercise for any new mum to be doing, regardless of the type delivery. Pelvic floor work makes up the main focus of any postnatal recovery program if you’ve had your baby via section. If I personally trained a client who’d had a section for example, I would start by asking them what sensation they have in the abdominals, bearing in mind that they may have next to no sensation, and still feel very sore and numb. Next, I would then ask how different areas of their pelvic floor feel. After this, I would perform a “Rec Check” to see if a separation is still existent in their abdominals, and I’d set basic re-activation and re-education exercises to either the pelvic floor or abdominals to help the muscles return to their original strength and fire 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.