I feel it necessary to say something to all you moms out there who have delivered a baby by C-section.
For some reason after a C-section, women feel the pressure to recover quicker because they didn’t have damage to the pelvic floor associated with a vaginal delivery but they also can’t figure out why they are experiencing the symptoms they have.
First let me say,
Give yourself a break mama!! You just had a major abdominal surgery.
Unfortunately after this major abdominal surgery, most often the information given to you isn’t more than, “Take it easy for 6 weeks and don’t lift more than your baby”
Then, at the six week mark, you are cleared to resume all activities. But then what??
Keep in mind, that if you had any other major surgery, lets say on your shoulder or knee, you would absolutely be sent to see a physiotherapist to help with your recovery. Unfortunately we are behind on postpartum care in many ways, leaving women to educate themselves.
Lets go through this…
During a C-section, the skin and tissues are cut horizontally and when they get down to the abdominal muscles, they part them down the middle. The bladder is moved out of the way to get to the uterus. An incision is then made in the uterus to get the baby out. The uterus is stitched up, the bladder is put back in place and then the tissues and abdominal muscles and skin are stitched up.
What happens to all the layers of tissues that were cut??
Everything needs to heel and this obviously takes time, but the body doesn’t always do things perfectly. Sometimes the scar can looked healed from the outside, but the deeper layers can be another story. When scar tissue forms, it lays down in random fashion and in different directions. It can even stick to organs like your uterus and bladder, making women feel weird sensations deep down there when they stretch or twist. The scar tissue can also be the cause of low back and pelvic pain.
How can my pelvic floor possibly be affected when the baby didn’t pass through there?
Even though not directly affected during delivery, your pelvic floor needs some TLC as well. First of all, remember you carried that baby for 9 months, which causes constant downward pressure on that very important group of muscles. Secondly, your scar can affect the nerve supply to your pelvic floor and leave you with side effects such as pain with urination, frequent peeing and pain with intercourse.
What happens to my core?
Do you ever find yourself asking?
Why does my core feel like Jelly?
Why does it feel like there is a dead zone between my upper body and lower body?
Why do I have issues with my pelvic floor when the baby didn’t even come out there?
If you do, these should all be signs to you that your core muscles aren’t supporting you, and that’s no surprise given what your body has been through.
Something all women experience whether C-section or vaginal delivery, is that your posture changes during pregnancy, and doesn’t just “bounce back” after your baby is born. The change in posture, which is usually bum tucked under, belly squeezed in and ribs flaring up, does not allow the core to fire effectively. In addition, what is obviously unique to all of you who have had a C-section, is the fact that a large and deep incision was made in the front of your abdomen will affect how your body moves! Without our core or our anchor functioning, we end up with problems like back or pelvic pain, the feeling of instability all the time or pelvic floor issues.
What should you do?
1) Make sure to get in and out of bed by rolling on your side first. Don’t sit yourself directly up from lying as it put strain on your abdominals and incision.
2) Gently work on mobilizing your scar as soon as the incision is healed from the outside, and you have been given clearance from your care provider.
3) When you are given the ok from your doctor or midwife to exercise, start light! Start with walking, body weight exercises, and exercises that target your deep core muscles. Don’t go right to impact exercises including running or jumping.
4) Don’t ignore your pelvic floor! Work right from the beginning on inhaling and relax your pelvic floor, exhale and contract/kegel.
5) Familiarize yourself with neutral posture and work at making this your normal. Your core muscles can’t work well for you unless they are in this position.