By Dr. Brooke Meinema, DPT, FAFS The pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles…
By Dr. Brooke Meinema, DPT, FAFS
Having a cesarean section can be a daunting experience. After having my c-section, I was terrified and not exactly sure where to start. For any new mom going through their first c-section or planning on delivering via c-section and wanting to plan ahead, let’s go over some general advice.
One scary thing immediately after: coughing, sneezing, and laughing. I remember being so afraid because I felt like I was going to open my incisions every time I laughed. One thing you can try is splinting: placing a pillow or similar object along your abdomen and applying pressure can reduce some of the stress on the incision and increase your comfort.
One area of advice people generally aren’t talking about with new moms (but probably should be) is how to have a safer and less terrifying bowel movement following delivery. The pain medications offered after delivery/c-section can lead to some issues with constipation. Pair that with a nice incision along your abdomen, and this is less than ideal. First off, you do not want to strain during your bowel movement (regardless of c-section or delivery, this is a good general piece of advice). Having your feet elevated can also create an ample position for easier defecation. If you have been having a hard time defecating, talk to your doctors about stool softeners or other dietary advice they may have to help move things along.
Early “exercise” to start with following a cesarean: breathing!
- First type of breathing: “HA” breathing. Take a deep breath in and engage your muscles deep in your core by forcefully saying “HA” as you exhale.
- Rib movement with exhaling (good for all postpartum women): during pregnancy, our ribs shift out to make more room for the growing belly. This makes our breathing pattern slightly different and can lead to some women noticing their rib cage seems wider than before. Working on rib mobility with exhaling can be a gentle way to start normalizing the breathing pattern and resting rib position. Lying on your back or your side, use your hands around your ribs to help bring them down and in as you exhale.
Scar tissue massage:
When it comes to scar tissue massage, you should wait until the incision is closed and your doctor approves the activity. The goal is not to be aggressive and painful, but mostly to try and gently drag the scar in different directions to allow the tissue to move and glide.
And finally, if you have been struggling with daily tasks and feel like your body needs extra help recovering: see a provider who can help! A women’s health physical therapist can assess your body to help establish goals with you and develop a personalized plan to help you along with your recovery. Call us to schedule your free consultation today!
Want more general postpartum advice? Check out my blog Postpartum and Your Body.