C-section births are extremely common in many countries and continue to be on the rise especially in the US.
What’s absolutely dumbfounding about all of this is that while the number of C-section births continue to rise, moms still continue to hardly be given any type of information about a C-section and the best procedures for healing from one!
C-section moms are poorly under-served, I know because I am one. And just as I was left wondering how to care for myself after the birth of my first child born via C-section, other moms still continue to struggle when it comes to finding solid information regarding caring for their body after a C-section, how to heal their core after one, and how to return to exercise post C-section, so many assume that the aches, pains, and discomforts that they experience are normal and all “part of the process”.
Not so! Let’s dive into three common misconceptions that exist in the world today and how these misconceptions are doing more harm than good for a C-section mom!
Myth #1: A C-section Birth Is A Failed Birth
There are SO MANY THINGS WRONG WITH THIS SENTIMENT!!!
There is more than one way to birth a baby in this modern world, and thankfully, we have several ways to do it, so that BOTH mom and baby can have the type of birth they need for so many reasons.
Whether your C-section was an emergency or a planned C-section…it’s still childbirth…and you should be proud of all that you endured to bring your baby into this world!
I wish more and more moms would try to avoid the notion that there is only one right way to birth a baby (a vaginal, unassisted, and unmedicated). There is nothing better or worse about one birthing method versus another…instead it comes down to which method is going to be best for baby and for mom’s physical, mental, and emotional needs.
We have to keep in mind that mom can always plan, prepare, and have preferences, but birthing a baby is very unpredictable regardless of all of the prep work leading up to it, and baby is going to come however baby needs to come.
If you find that you still struggle with sorting through your thoughts and emotions regarding your C-section birth then I highly recommend working with a therapist or counselor who specializes in birth trauma.
I completely understand that you may feel confused, let down, disappointed, and wondering why things didn’t go according to plan. But don’t for one second ever let yourself think or feel that you did something wrong, or that your body failed you during childbirth. While there are many things about Western medicine that can be improved, we need to be thankful that it gives us options for birthing a baby according to both baby’s needs and our own physical, mental, and emotional needs! Yes…you birthed your baby via C-section, and you still did amazing, and your body did exactly what is was supposed to do because everyone’s body is different!!
Please remember this…Birth is birth…period!!
Myth #2: Since I Had A C-Section I Don’t Have To Worry About My Pelvic Floor.
While it is true that a vaginal birth will cause more trauma to the pelvic floor, and increases the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction post-birth, you still are at risk for pelvic floor dysfunction simply because you were pregnant. Pregnancy in and of itself can put you at an increased risk for pelvic floor dysfunction and complications because the all of the added weight from your growing uterus and baby weighing down on the pelvic organs and pelvic floor, as well as the increased instability of the pelvis due to pregnancy hormones.
The alignment changes you experience from pregnancy and postpartum (standing with your tailbone tucked under or your rib cage thrusting up can also affect the strength and integrity of your pelvic floor muscles. Lastly, your c-section scar can interfere with pelvic nerve functioning which can affect how well these muscles function. Therefore, us c-section mamas aren’t exactly out of the woods here either! We need to make sure that we also put in the work to restore and reintegrate our core from the inside out which also involves restoring function to the pelvic floor as well.
Lastly, the incision healing process from a C-section can also affect your pelvic floor function. One common sign is pain, burning, or stinging in the lower abdomen with the initiation of intercourse or clitoral stimulation. This can happen as a result from scar tissue buildup.
Scar tissue is not inherently bad for us. It’s a fibrous tissue that helps keep incisions and injuries from reopening. The problem is that scar tissue doesn’t stretch, and it can continue to grow even after an injury has healed. It does not lie down as “neatly” as normal tissue and is less ﬂexible.
If you can imagine it, scar tissue lays itself down more like a spider web surrounding an injury and it attaches itself to anything in the surrounding area to the injury like skin, muscles, and connective tissues. This can then cause adhesions, which basically means that the scar tissue has attached itself to healthy tissue that has nothing to do with the injury.
When you move, the fibrous scar tissue pulls on other healthy tissue and limits its ability to move freely. This creates unwanted tension in your body, and it can affect both healthy tissue and organs surrounding your scar as well as other areas up and down the body because it’s all interconnected.
Once your scar is healed, you will want to be sure to begin some gentle massage work around and over your scar to release adhesions and improve blood flow to the area.
Myth 3: You Have To Wait AT LEAST 6 Weeks After A C-Section To Do Any Exercise
I absolutely disagree with this advice! Now…I’m not talking about going out and running a marathon as soon as you get home?! NO! So, before you roll your eyes and say in your head that I’m crazy, let me explain myself. I actually think more women would benefit from GENTLE STRETCHING, BREATHING EXERCISES, AND GENTLE AND BASIC MOVEMENTS FOR THE CORE & BODY.
Unfortunately, most C-section moms are discharged from the hospital and then basically left to figure it out for themselves on finding quality restorative and rehabilitative information for their procedure. On the other hand, those patients who are recovering from other types of surgeries (knee, hip, shoulder) are almost always given a referral for some type of rehabilitative plan.
Case in point: The majority of people who have knee surgery are almost always referred to physical therapy after their surgeries, so they can rehab their knee and regain proper function, strength, and use of their knee again. If they’re not referred to physical therapy then they are at least given a list of specific exercises to perform at home on their own.
Meanwhile, women who have delivered via C-section are left to figure things out on their own, put the pieces together as much as they can based off of so much of the conflicting information on the internet.
If everything is healing well around 2-3 weeks postpartum, and mom feels fine lying on her back, or on her side then I like to get my clients doing a very gentle bodyweight circuit focused on lots of breathing drills and simple exercises that bring awareness and strength back to the deeper core muscles, and better alignment and posture. Gentle exercise for C-section moms those first few weeks postpartum can also be SO beneficial for their mental and emotional health.
With all this being said, you still need to be careful in those first few weeks and months after a C-section. The first 6 weeks postpartum, a C-section mom needs to make sure that she isn’t lifting anything too strenuous or heavy. You will want to make sure that you aren’t lifting anything heavier than your baby. Remember, you underwent major abdominal surgery, so you need to make sure that err on the side of caution so as to not interfere with your incision healing. If you do find that you need to lift something heavier than your baby like an older child or groceries then make sure BY ALL MEANS that you do it with good alignment, you exhale before lifting, and you do a gentle Kegel and hold it before you lift.
Wondering if your C-section incision could still be interfering with your core function and core strength as a mom? Take my free quiz to find out and learn about what you can do about your C-section scar to finally get your core back!