How to get your body back after C-Section, and Vaginal Delivery vs. C-Section
*Please note I am not saying one or the other is better. That is up to your OB. We all end up in C-sections for different reasons and different doctor's opinions (always looking out for the best result). For me it was a transverse baby, a baby with scary low fluid and a third baby who came at 35 weeks. I kinda gave up that I would have a baby the ole fashioned way. But hey I didn't get pregnant the ole fashioned way (except #3 blessing!)
Ok, so C-Sections are scary, but they aren't bad! For me I was in lala land trying to breastfeed my 1st baby in the recovery room…couldn't quite pull it together:) The pain was covered up by drugs - although the drugs spoke for themselves as I fell asleep mid-sentence constantly. But what happens afterwards - when it's time to get your body back?
For my vaginal delivery gals - I have always envied you a bit. You are also left with a "mess", but pushing a baby out is an amazing feat! Your muscles are affected in pretty much the same way as c-sections, so your recovery will be the same for the most part…so keep reading.
Does a C-Section cut your muscles?
A C-section is a surgical procedure so there will always be some scarring, but unlike what most women think, your doctor will not be cutting through muscle with the exception of the uterus. When a C-section is performed two sets of abdominal muscles are separated from one another but are NOT cut. A transverse (horizontal) cut—the so-called Bikini Cut C-Section—actually causes fewer complications. Since it is below your bikini line it will be far less noticeable than a longitudinal (vertical) incision.
If you had a C-section some exercises could bother your incision site, so back off until you are ready and only do exercises you are completely comfortable doing. If you feel some discomfort try saying "hut" while doing the work. And/or support your abdominal area with a pillow for more comfort. Otherwise you should be able to exercise around 6 weeks when your doctor releases you. You will just need to start out a little slower than if you had a vaginal delivery. And you may feel numbness for a few months after your procedure. Why? Your nerves were cut and will take a bit to recover.
A C-section is like having a cast on your arm. It will take longer to recover, but the good news is you can have the same end result as a vaginal delivery. As you read above, a bikini cut c-section does not cut through your muscles. The fascia is one of the 5 layers cut as your doctor goes in to get the baby. Fascia covers the muscles and acts as a sheathe to keep our waists compact. After birth your fascia will be back to 90% of its original strength within in 6 weeks, the other 10% will come back within a year. You cannot strengthen or tighten your fascia without surgery…so preventative measures are necessary...staying within the recommendedweight gain is a must!
Vaginal deliveries with midline episiotomies, especially 4th degree (1st being smallest) can create dysfunction of the pelvic floor, which also interrupts core function. Several of the tools and instruments that doctors use to assist you in giving birth, vacuums and forceps, for example, can cause PF dysfunction.
You will have to train your Pelvic Floor and Transverse Abdominis, both deep muscles of the core. Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a c-section the Pelvic Floor and the TA act as a sling to your baby. Which is why you need to train these specific muscles to get back the integrity and strength of your core before returning to traditional abdominal exercises.