5 Methods to Get your Body Back After a C-Section

It’s likely that if you’re reading this you are a C-section mama, or you are pregnant and fearing the thought of a C-section.

The negativity surrounding this type of birth worries expecting mothers and places shame and judgment on the shoulders of new C-section mothers. Well, as a C-section Mom x 4, I can confidently say that you CAN return your body to optimal function. Here are some of my C-section Hacks based on my personal experiences as well as my experience as a Board-Certified Physical Therapy Specialist in Pelvic Rehabilitation.

Compressive Garments-Wear Them!

The healing of a C-section scar is no joke. It can be extremely painful with almost every movement, lifting or carrying baby, and when pushing out a bowel movement. The pain medication you get upon discharge helps A LOT, but it also causes hard stools, so drink lots of water and add a stool softener to decrease the pain of pushing out stool. But the biggest help to your healing is the mesh underwear and abdominal compression binder. They are not cute or glamorous, but they are so helpful to avoid irritating the scar and offering support to the abdominals during movement. They are clunky at times, but SO worth it.

Get Moving!

Wrap your abdominal binder around and walk around your home. It’s going to sting a little as you get started, but the more you move, the better it gets.  Here’s my little tip to make it better, before you rise up make a gentle “sh” sound before standing.  The “sh” sound kicks your deep abs in to minimize the pulling on the scar. This is meant to be done with or without the abdominal binder on.  Once you activate the abs with the “sh”, try to keep the slight tension it creates while you move.  It seems silly, but the “sh” abdominal tip is going to be one of your favorites!

Rest and Position Yourself for Success

Equally important to movement, is rest. Finding the balance is a struggle!

First off, position yourself with pillows to support your body and your baby comfortably. A suggestion for sitting is to use the Boppy pillow wrapped around your waist to help support your newborn, while not requiring your abs to feel pulling. This works great for breastfeeding (if appropriate) or snuggling your baby. In lying down, the most relaxed position of the pelvic floor is with 2 pillows under the knees and legs slightly rolled outward, like a frog. This is a great position for the baby to rest on your chest while you rest your pelvis. Getting up from this position can be tricky, so remember the “sh” before you move, then roll to your side like a log. From your side, drop your legs down off the bed while simultaneously pushing yourself up.

A big part of getting enough rest is accepting help from others, so don’t be afraid to set yourself up for success.

Kegels will Help

Your pelvic floor may be intact, but it’s role as part of the core muscles will still need some work. Carrying extra body weight (in the form of baby), possibly enduring the strains of labor, and having the pelvic floor’s neighboring muscle group (abdominals) cut can all weaken the pelvic floor muscles.  Getting started with low intensity kegels (50% or less) can occur as soon as the day of surgery, but should definitely be part of your daily routine by 1-week post-op. Building strength in the pelvic floor can increase slowly until you reach full strength. What’s a kegel? Kegels are pelvic floor contractions that are very important to returning core and pelvic strength. Kegels can be hard to know if you’re doing the contraction correctly. A visit with a Pelvic Physical Therapist can be just what you’re needing!

Care for your Scar

It’s going to be pretty hard to ignore the burning, fiery, hot poker sensation blaring from your lower abdomen, so you may as well take good care of it! Scars need pressure (another plug for keeping your abdominal binder on), approximation, and good nutrition to help the body heal the wound. Wearing the binder, keeping the scar clean and bandaged until it is healed over are a great start. But, once the surface scar is closed or healed over, you can begin to remodel the scar by gently rubbing it in various circular patterns. Often adding a lubricant like vitamin E or coconut oil can be helpful to give the skin nourishment. Lastly, choose healthy foods to be sure your body has all the building blocks of nutrition needed to heal the wound.

The negativity surrounding this type of birth worries expecting mothers and places shame and judgment on the shoulders of new C-section mothers. Well, as a C-section Mom x 4, I can confidently say that you CAN return your body to optimal function. Here are some of my C-section Hacks based on my personal experiences as well as my experience as a Board-Certified Physical Therapy Specialist in Pelvic Rehabilitation.

Written by:

Brooke Erstad, PT, DPT, WCS, CAPPBROOKE ERSTAD
Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certificate of Achievement in Pelvic Physical Therapy, Women’s Health Certified Specialist
Brooke can be reached at brooke@apexptwellness.com

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