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Elevate your C-section Recovery

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

In all my years, I have not met one woman who has not planned out her dream birth! Copious amounts of birth classes, fertility nutrition, prenatal yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic care, finding the perfect doula, creating a birth plan and now even pelvic therapy are part of the planning process. Most women dream of having a healthy vaginal birth or unmedicated home birth! But 1 in 3 babies are born via cesarean section due to an emergency situation, or to protect Mother and Baby due to other health concerns. In the USA a cesarean section is the most common inpatient procedure. So many C sections are done each year. The number of c-sections outpace total hip replacement and total knee replacements combined (2014). Only 10-15% c-sections are actually emergent and 25% are “low risk”.

C-sections are a major abdominal and gynecological surgery, involving more body systems than a total hip or knee replacement. But there is no specific rehabilitation program or medical plan to start healing for a new postpartum and post surgical mother. As a PT, we know there is a specific plan of care from postoperative day one for a total joint replacement. On day 1, a PT comes to your hospital room, assists you in getting up, out of bed and to a chair/toilet. The therapist may even walk you down the hall with a walker or cane, coaching your every move. The therapist wants to make sure you are safe and strong enough to walk on your own before you go home. This care does NOT happen for any postpartum mother, not even a woman who could be considered post surgical due to a c-section! This bunches my panties and makes my blood boil!

The scar is the tip of the iceberg

Before I stand on my soap box anymore, Let's break down the basics of a C-section. What is it and how do they do it? The small 6-8 inch scar on the lower tummy is the tip of the iceberg. Once the scar is healed, many women forget more healing is occurring under the surface. Many OBGYNs play into this mindset at the six to eight week appointment sharing, “You're good to go and able to return to whatever activities you would like!” You would never hear an orthopedic surgeon say this to a client at 6 weeks after a joint replacement. You are prescribed continued physical therapy, a walking program and other activities. At 6 weeks post C-section, the abdominal fascia (connective tissue which supports the core muscles) only has regained 51-59% of original tensile strength!

So what does that mean as a new Mom? The core muscles have 50-60% of the strength that you had before