Planning Your Fitness Return Post C-Section?
When planning your fitness return, the nature of your birth is important to consider. Many new moms are excited to get back to the activities they love and eager to lose the weight that they put on during pregnancy. It’s perfectly normal to feel this way when you’re embarking an this incredible journey but this is where I suggest you ease into your fitness routine because having a C-Section is pretty major and the recovery process takes much longer than an uncomplicated vaginal delivery.
Typically, you will go see your doctor at 6-weeks post and given the green light but this isn’t to say that you should rush back into high intensity workouts.
During a C-section, there is an incision made into your fat tissue and connective tissue to get to your abdominal muscles. These muscles are then separated--your bladder is moved out of the way to that your OB can access your uterus. Your baby is guided out and your placenta removed shortly after.
That’s some pretty serious stuff!
Once the baby is born, your uterus is stitched, your bladder is put back into place, and your connective tissue, ab muscles and skin are stitched. From there, a scar will form on the layer of sutures as your body heals.
Now, these scars aren’t just superficial. A C-Section is invasive and complex and it need 9-12 months of healing time. You need to treat it like any other major surgery and there can be complications if you don’t.
Many women believe that because they had a C-Section birth that their pelvic floor hasn’t suffered any impact. Yes, women who have vaginal deliveries have more complications with the pelvic floor but women who have had C-Sections still have gone through the pregnancy process which still caused stress on the pelvic floor.
The impact happens because of the downward pressure of the baby. This can be caused by stretching causing the connective tissue to become weak and more laxed than normal
The expanding uterus puts pressure on other pelvic organs, including the bladder and rectum, and can disrupt their normal function.
C-section scars can play tricks with pelvic nerve function, leading to such side-effects as urethral burning, the feeling of needing to pee all the time, and pain in the clitoris and labia.
The alignment changes that happen during pregnancy and postpartum—for example, standing with the bum tucked under—can affect the tone of your pelvic floor muscles, leaving them tight and short (also known as the pelvic tilt). Be mindful of how you stand. Ribs over hips, shoulders down and back, and stick your bum out.
When returning to strength training after a C-section I always recommend my clients to consult both their doctor and a pelvic floor physiotherapist. They can both make sure that the C-Section is healing properly and that there are no underlying issues.
Once you get the all clear, start off slow. Begin with one to two times per week and don't over exert yourself. 15- 20 minutes to start off with in addition to your restorative exercises like the ones in Post-Baby Rehab is a great place to start. Work gradually over the next few months by adding 5 minutes every couple weeks.
Be sure to give your body enough time to heal between sessions. Give your body enough time to recover and adapt to the movements. If you have any bleeding or pain (scar, pelvic, back) at all during or after exercise, decrease the intensity.
This is pretty typical standing posture during and post-pregnancy. I've over exaggerated it a bit so that you
can see how being out of alignment looks, but this is what needs to be addresses before starting a high-
intensity fitness program. poor alignment places a lot of pressure on the c-section scar, pelvic floor
and pelvic organs.
Be conservative with your weight training program especially in the beginning and avoid any high impact or high intensity fitness program. Start with resistance bands, body weight and light weights. Remember to focus on your breath and watch your form.
Exercises to avoid:
Crunches, sit-ups, leg raises, and front planks
Running, jumping, step-ups
Heavy overhead presses
Heavily weighted exercises
Anything that places direct downward pressure on the pelvic floor, such as a barbell back squat
Front loaded movements where your body weigh or resistance is place at the from of your body.
I understand that for many women, with may be difficult to start with a low impact program but trust me when I say that this is only temporary. Taking the steps to complement your recover will take time but you will greatly reduce your chance of serious complications down the line. Giving yourself permission to health after your pregnancy will make your stronger than ever!
Love your baby body,