Post C Section: How & When To Safely Exercise
C Section What Should I Do?
The most frequent questions I get asked from my new mothers’ post pregnancy and my C section new mothers are When can I exercise? What type of exercises can I do? How do I get rid of my C section pouch?
The answer to these questions varies according to each person as each C section is different and not all uterus and abdominal walls are the same. Whilst the outcome post C section is that a beautiful bundle of joy enters the world is the same the journey for every child and mother is different, and each baby will develop in their own unique way as they grow older. A C section is major abdominal surgery and care should not be taken lightly.
In 2022 around 1 in 4 babies are born via C section in the UK, proving that C sections are much common. With so many women having a surgical birth, more women than ever are searching for more information. So please do your research and remember that what was right for your friends and family members might not be right for you.
Straight off the bat; Yoga, Pilates are fine for some new mothers but not for everyone and some women need a more subtle and tailored approach for them. I must be clear that I am not saying no to Pilates and Yoga but I am suggesting that these exercises are not right for everyone and there are other options available.
Whatever exercises you do, or any Health Professional you see needs to be more individualised and tailored to you first and foremost. You need to consider what can and what you can’t do and then ask the question why? Just saying it’s because you have had a C section don’t cut it I am afraid. All health modalities work but what type of work do you need to set you on that path to recovery.
I have seen too many C section mothers who are let down because of a blanket approach and a zoom in approach from professionals who think Kegel exercises and core drills and post-natal massages are all that is needed. As Health Professionals we need to find out what type of pregnancy the new mother went through over the nine month period and assess their health profile before they became a new mother. Taking into consideration what type of injuries were they managing or receiving treatment for.
My belief is that everything that happens with our bodies are interlinked and it’s my job to find and understand those connections. This is a process that you need to go through and it will take time. We are not going to ignore the uterus, but we need to consider everything and we want to make sure we are going in the right direction. When you discover the right way to work for you it does not take long to see the results and to enjoy the process of discovery.
Whether you are electing to have a C section or if it happens as an emergency, you deserve to feel supported and know what to expect once you go home. However, a lot C section mothers are not prepared for what the C section recovery process involves.
If you’ve been to an antenatal class such as I did with my fiancé, you’ll know that they are primarily focused on vaginal deliveries and the consequent recovery. However, C-sections are more invasive and often entail a longer road to recovery. As they are becoming increasingly common, we need to prepare women for what’s to come. Also, we must rehab these C section mothers and empower them to keep asking the right questions and not to accept that these symptoms are normal. If any Health Professionals try to normalise your issue please demand that they step up as normalising your symptoms is a weak excuse.
There is still a stigma that continues to shroud C-sections and I feel this limits the conversation around the topic. At the end of the day, the best way to give birth is the way where both mum and baby are as healthy and happy as possible. Sometimes that is a vaginal, natural birth. Sometimes it involves an epidural. Sometimes it involves a C-section. Every pregnancy, every baby, and every female uterus is different, and that leads to so many different birth stories. This is what keeps life so interesting, as humans we are so different and as a therapist we bring different things to the table you just need to find the right way for you this could be me or someone else and we should not be scared to explore your own bodies and other therapies.
Firstly, What Is a C-Section?
Well it is compared to major abdominal surgery it’s not just about the scar which most new mothers worry about but it is part of the process so we cannot ignore it.
A C-section / Caesarean is a procedure involving an incision to the lower abdominal region under general anaesthetic or spinal block to birth your baby.
The C-section incision is made through seven layers of your abdomen including:
- Fatty tissue
- Rectus or abdominal sheath
- Two layers of peritoneum
- Amniotic sac
The bladder is moved aside to access the uterus, where the final incision is made. The baby then enters the world, placenta follows, uterus is stitched up, bladder is put back in place, and the remaining layers are sutured up again to varying degrees.
All this plays a massive part in your return to health and exercise so for this reason it shouldn’t be taken likely and you shouldn’t feel rushed to get back to your normal physical activity too quickly. So, please get all the relevant information first. It is not as simple as doing core exercises such as planks and sit up’s hoping you will get a flat stomach. Or doing all the quick fixes you see on Instagram and TikTok that will tell you how this played out for them. All stories are different even though they might have similarities.
About The C Section Recovery Process
So, why do we have an algorithm approach to C-sections, and do the same thing for each C-section mother with the majority of women never really recovering and accepting their symptoms such as bladder issues, sensitive sacring and lower abdomen discomfort. A C-section is a traumatic event both physically and emotionally and it’s not just about your pelvic floor muscles. If it was that easy, we wouldn’t have so many new mothers post pregnancy with c section or natural birth with issues.
Is Life Normal After C Section?
It takes about six weeks to recover from a C-section, but each person’s timeline will be different. An incision — typically a horizontal cut made in your lower abdomen can take weeks to heal. During that time, it’s recommended that you avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby. This varies depending on pre and post injuries and how traumatic the C-section was and how much support you have around you. If you are alone or with a Partner just listen to your body do as much as your energy allows. So many people to listen to other mothers and you have one thing in common you are both mothers but your body, feelings and emotions are different.
How Long Will It Take For My C Section Scar To Heal?
You will often hear of the magical six-week mark when it comes to postnatal healing. Whether you’ve birthed vaginally or via c-section, the physiological tissue healing takes around six weeks. However, whilst your scar from the outside may look better, the process of healing is still well and truly underway deep down. Your C-section scar is just the tip of the iceberg and internal healing may continue for up to a year.
So, just using a few vegan oils and minerals is not going to do the job alone. It will aid the recovery process of the scar tissue for sure all good nourishing nutrients will aid scar recovery at tissue level.
Once you have been cleared by Dr’s and been seen by your midwife and your wound is closed and no sign of infection is visible. The once all stitches have been removed you can then check to see the type of oils you should use link here.
First Step Tissue Recovery Post C-Section
Once your wound has healed then you need to start loading the tissue, but this is not doing core exercise and stomach crunches. Those movements are just too big to handle at this moment.
You need to see a therapist who likes to use their hands and gentle manipulation of the scar tissue, you need to start this to educate the tissue to form in various directions of pull. You do not need any deep friction scar tissue work it should be very gentle and soft. When you start doing too much load too quickly scar tissue can form. There is also genetic component to how much you will scar as well as some ethnicities are easier to scar post tissue trauma.
If you’re experiencing the ‘C section pouch’, ‘overhang’ or ‘shelf’ that many women report after having a c section.
You shouldn’t feel the need to ‘get rid of’ anything while you’re healing, but I know many new mums are troubled by the C-section pouch phenomenon.
Most women store extra fat around this area during pregnancy to cushion their baby, but fat is not the only cause of an extended postpartum tummy. Other reasons for your tummy’s shape may include:
- IV fluid retention: During a C section procedure, you will be given IV fluids to keep your fluid levels replenished. You may still retain some of these fluids after surgery.
- Uterus stretching: During pregnancy, your uterus stretches to house your baby. It usually begins growing from around 12 weeks (or earlier if you’re carrying multiples) and will grow roughly 1cm each week from then. It takes roughly 6 to 8 weeks for your uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size after giving birth.
- Muscle stretching: Pregnancy causes your abdominal muscles to grow apart. This is called Diastasis Recti and has been found in 100% of pregnant women by 35 weeks. Your muscles usually come back together without any support, but the appearance of your muscles may look different to pre-pregnancy and appear to look like fat.
- Diastasis Recti – A lot of therapists need to check this but most importantly knowing how to aid the closing of Diastasis Recti is different for everyone.
This in my opinion is so important I fully understand what your feeling overwhelmed and feel its not about you it’s all about the little one. But I feel this is the right time to get to know your body and for you to understand what you need to do for your body so you can look after your new-born.
Exercise For C Section Recovery
It’s a common misconception that you should avoid movement for the first 6 weeks of C-section recovery. While you’ll be advised not to do certain things, such as driving, climbing stairs, and lifting heavy objects, gentle movement can help the recovery process and reduce swelling.
- This does not mean you start loading up your stomach muscles to get it flat.
- As mentioned above tissue health is first to start rehabilitation process.
- Check your Diastasis Recti is it close going in on itself or out this is important if you start loading the stomach muscles or your body too quickly when it’s not close can lead to stomach and bladder issues.
- Low level Kegal exercises is a good start getting aware of this area again. It’s not just holding your wee. For some this is a good start but majority this might not be what you need. Work with a therapist to help you start in the right direction. This is not a blanket approach better still give me a call for advice look at my service page.
Post C section Exercises What Not to do!!!!
Post C-section you can experience pain below your abdomen and it feels like there’s something moving inside your tummy. This is the formation of the scar tissue and changes to nerve endings, this is possibly one of the reasons for experiencing this type of symptoms.
Pain, discomfort, or a pulling-sensation in your abdomen is common in the months following a c-section and is due to the build-up of scar tissue, which can stick to muscles or even organs and cause pain.
So, exercises or any activity that will overload the stomach muscles is not what the body needs in my opinion. Low-level hands-on treatment and gentle progression to tissue alignment and structural treatment is needed in my opinion.
It’s also natural to feel tired in the postpartum period healing from surgery and looking after a new-born is naturally tiring. The most important factor here is if you feel like your tiredness is more than just lack of sleep and recovery, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor so they can assess what might be causing you to feel this way.
Post C section it’s natural that you want your body to return to normal, but you now have a new normal. Your body has carried this buddle of joy for 9 months and it’s done an amazing job so don’t be too critical of what a massive achievement this is. So, well done and keep being present and own that beautiful body.
In my opinion the biggest mistake you can make is to have an attitude to accept pain or discomfort and feel that this is just the way it is. Don’t accept the Bladder issues, scar being painful, bloaty feeling, pulling of scar tissue and finding it hard to do every day task 6+ months after C section.
The list of C- section exercises follow the link but, in my opinion, you need to find the right exercises for you and maybe the right exercise for you in not in the link attached. They are thousands of exercises to start with and maybe the Kegel exercises. These exercises are where most (but not all) women should start. BUT REMEMBER NOT ALL UTERIES ARE THE SAME.
To get a hypothesis of why you have these symptoms why not work with Health Professional and look at my website to get an idea of different services I offer which can aid in your recovery.
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Please fill out the form below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.