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 in 2008 were delivered by section.
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, and the inside cling film/Linea Alba is not.
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 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 elect 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 pelvic floor!
You may have been at it for hours, pushing and pushing and putting a tremendous amount of pressure on these areas. Put simply, it’s your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles which help you deliver your baby.
When can you return to exercise following a c-section?
To be honest, I don’t think there’s a set answer to this question.
You will need to have had your Doctor’s Check up before your return to exercise, which, depending on your Doctor’s Practice could be 8 weeks, 10 weeks or even 12 weeks, so give them a call to see what their guidelines are.
As an Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert though, I believe postnatal women should return to exercise following a c-section, when they feel ready.
It’s major surgery afterall, 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 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.
I would strongly suggest you seek advice from an Ante/Postnatal Pilates Expert like myself if you’re considering returning to exercise. Qualified and experienced Instructors will get you doing safe, effective exercises in the proper plane of movement, without pain, and with results.
What exercise is safe after a c-section?
Postnatal-specific Pilates-based 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, I would start by asking them what sensation they have in the abdominals, bearing in mind 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 effective 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 is though, with the right assessment, instruction and homework, it’s easily fixable.
Can you identify with some of the problems I’ve noted about c-section recovery?
If so, then click here to find out how to get your core strength back after baby, simply and easily.