A C-Section is major abdominal surgery and while generally considered safe, it’s not without its long-term effects – especially on the abdominal muscles.
This means you’re going to want to put time into strengthening these muscles through abdominal training.
Today, we’re going to take you through the basics of post-natal abdominal training after a C-section.
What is a C-Section?
If you’re reading this article, you probably have a good idea of what a C-section entails, so we’re going to keep it brief.
A C-section is an emergency (or, sometimes, elective) procedure to deliver a child. This is often performed when there is a risk in conventional childbirth or at the mother’s request.
To reach the uterus, a C-section has to pass through your abdominal wall and separate the muscles and tissue. This potentially means a lot of soreness (you’ve probably experienced that bit by now!) and some long-term weakness.
Impacts of a C-Section on the Body
This kind of invasive major surgery isn’t without its effects: you’re going to notice some differences in your own body after a C-section in the following months.
Breaching the abdominal wall can destabilise the spine and front of the body, which is why a rest period of 4-8 weeks is recommended following a C-section. The risks here are a hernia and tearing scar tissue – both of which can be serious complications.
In the long-term, it’s possible to experience losses in abdominal strength and muscle tone. This has a knock-on effect on your spinal health and stability. It may also negatively affect your hips and balance.
Diastasis recti is a complication in some C-section patients when deep tissues (such as organs, connective tissue or deeper muscles) protrude through a separation of the abdominal muscles.
Physiotherapy is a common approach to dealing with this condition – proper control and rehabilitation of the various core muscles can reduce the risks and symptoms of diastasis recti.
Diastasis Recti one of many reasons why regular appointments with a physiotherapist in the weeks and months following your operation is so important.
Importance of Strengthening the Abdominal Wall/Lower Back Muscles
The abdominal wall and lower back muscles are impacted during both pregnancy and a C-section. During these processes, the abdominal muscles are stretched and, during the C-section, are surgically separated to allow for delivery.
This weakens the muscles of the anterior and posterior core: the abs and lower back muscles. These are responsible for key functions in the body, including:
- Stabilising the spine (especially the crucial, vulnerable lumbar spine)
- Keeping pressure and tension in the core during heavy lifting or loaded movement
- Controlling the rotation and stability of your core and trunk
- Stabilising the hips and maintaining posture
- Reducing injury risk to the hips, spine, knees and surgery location
Strengthening these muscles is a key component in improving your health, well-being, and fitness. They are crucial for everything from posture to rotation – key parts of everyday movement.
Key Rehabilitation and Strengthening Techniques
Rehabilitation, relief and strengthening techniques all play a role in recovery. These are some of the most effective ways to begin your strength, control and rehabilitation.
This is a breathing control exercise aimed at teaching you to breathe with your diaphragm and core.
Regaining control of your breath is one of the most important post-natal developments and, throughout this process, you’ll be strengthening the core muscles in a safe, gentle way.
Designed to improve your control over the pelvic floor muscles and core all at once, seated Kegels are a great exercise for ensuring that you’re recovering from the stretching effects of pregnancy and the separation of muscles during a C-section.
Combining both of these functions can result in improved coordination of your core and lower pelvis, and return to core strength.
These are a hamstring, core and hip exercise that train and strengthen the muscles that have been weakened during pregnancy.
This is a compound movement that requires you to keep the core and hips stable while moving the legs – a key part of core strength and control known as limb isolation, and one of the most important functions for performance and movement quality.
The wall sit is great for developing basic leg strength and hip control during your rehab. It helps develop stability and control because you’re holding a tough position without moving.
This forces you to use the core and hips in a far more challenging way than the sitting kegel, and it’s a great way to improve leg and glute strength if performed properly.
Post-Caesarian Physiotherapy with Caroline
Caroline is our physiotherapist in women’s health and is well-equipped to help you deal with this type of rehabilitation and strengthening.
With a career defined by excellence and supportive care, her guidance covers everything from diagnosis and consultation to exercise planning and education.
If you’ve got the time and patience, we’re here to provide you with the support and knowledge you need – so get in touch and start the conversation, we are looking forward to hearing from you.
Please note, this blog is general in nature and we do recommend talking to your general practitioner who may then refer you to The Brisbane Spine Clinic.