5 Things Every Mom (and Coach!)Should Know About Cesarean Birth

Did you know 1 in 3 births is a Cesarean Birth? April is Cesarean Awareness Month and I wanted to share 5 things that I think every mom (and even coach!) should know about cesarean birth.

I had my son via planned cesarean due to his breech presentation. I thought I was prepared, but the recovery process was shockingly difficult to me. I was a personal trainer and considered myself physically strong during pregnancy, so to say I was surprised by how weak I felt after my cesarean, is an understatement. I began doing research on cesarean recovery/rehab/retraining so that I could safely begin exercising again once I was healed.

During the first few months postpartum, I came across Jessie Mundell. The information I learned from Jessie was so powerful that I decided to become a Postnatal Fitness Specialist so that I could better serve the mothers I coached.

Although there are many things to consider after cesarean birth (or any birth for that matter!) these 5 things are what I find most women are not educated on enough after their cesarean birth. Please keep in mind that I am a doctor and this information is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please check with your medical provider before proceeding.

 

5 Things Every Mom (And Coach) Should Know About Cesarean Birth

 

1. Roll to Side

First thing to consider is that getting up from the couch or bed will be very difficult because your support system (core!) is compromised during the first few days to weeks after your cesarean. Many women describe the feeling as if they have no abs. I remember getting callouses on my elbows from using them to push my entire body.

Here is a video of a way you can get out of bed with a *bit* more support. Plus, this is a way you can protect your core to aid in healing diastasis recti no matter how you birthed your baby. I wish I knew this technique during my first week home!

  • First, bend your knees and roll to your side.
  • Next, exhale and slowly push your hands into the couch/bed/floor to a seated position.
  • Finally, exhale again and slowly push your hands into the bed as you push your feet into the ground to stand.

 

2. get Core and Pelvic Floor Support

In addition to the roll to side technique, many women may find they need additional support from something like a compression short, abdominal binder, or high waisted panty. I personal used an abdominal binder which is very similar to a corset and I will tell you it helped me tremendously when I needed to go to appointments during those first few weeks. It also helped take pressure off of my incision that was still healing but many women find that something like the C-Panty gives them a little support plus a spot to protect their incision. If I ever have a repeat cesarean, I will probably get the C-Panty for the additional pelvic support. Another support item that many practitioners and clients like is the SRC Recovery Shorts or Tights. These are more compression than the abdominal binder or C-Panty, but can be a life-saver during days and weeks you have to do more on your feet.

Whatever it is that you choose, having something that can give you some added support around and under your pelvis and core may be beneficial to not only how you feel moving around after your cesarean but also how quickly you recover.

 

Scar Mobilization

Whether you had a cesarean birth last month or 20 years ago, scar tissue mobilization can help improve sensitivity and numbness around the scar and belly button. It can also help relieve referred pain (pain in your neck, low back, etc) associated with tight, thick scars. In some cases scar tissue can form adhesions deep in your tissues which can attach to surrounding structures causing anything from nerve damage to digestive distress. Scar tissue mobilization can help with this too.


The most important thing to know is that we would like our scar tissue to be mobile. If it is too tough it can affect the surrounding areas and in turn affect our movement. *COACHES/TRAINERS* this is what you should be asking your clients about their births!

It can affect how we raise our arm over our head and how our pelvic floor muscles function. Even if your recovery was easy, these issues can pop up years later. Needless to say, it is important!!

No matter how long ago you or your client had any type of surgery, it is never too late to do scar mobilization. It is possible to do it on your own, but I recommend seeking medical advice, especially in the early months. Below is a fantastic/quick video from Anita Lambert so you can get started.

Click here for scar tissue mobilization video

 

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

One thing many moms don't know about cesarean birth is that they can also be affected by pelvic floor dysfunction just like mothers who have vaginal births.

I go into more details in the videos below:

What should you do if you are experiencing symptoms like losing bladder control when you run, jump or cough; bulging in the vagina, urgency or frequency to pee or any other pelvic symptoms? See a Pelvic Floor Therapist or someone who specializes in women's pelvic health. Please see my resources page for how to find a therapist near you!

 

You are not a failure

You are not a failure. . .


Although I was grateful to have a scheduled cesarean, I was so angry that I didn’t get the birth experience I had imagined. Why was it happening to me? And why didn’t more people understand my anger? By sitting with those feelings and not suppressing them, I eventually found peace but they still come up from time to time.

If you’re angry and sad like I was, you’re allowed those feelings. No one can tell you differently. Yes you and baby are safe but you’re still allowed to be angry, sad, whatever. Don’t be ashamed. You are no less of a mother and I assure you, you didn’t take the easy way out like some people may think.

You’re a warrior, mama. Never forget that.

 My sweet, sweet love

My sweet, sweet love


If you’re interested, I shared my birth story with Annapolis Area Doulas for Cesarean Awareness month.


What was your experience with a cesarean like? How was your recovery? Share your story and let me know how I can help!

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xo Christine

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Christine McDowell