Nurturing Your Body: Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy After a C-Section

Nurturing Your Body: Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy After a C-Section

April 25, 2024

April is C-Section Awareness Month! Did you know that pelvic floor physical therapy isn’t just for vaginal deliveries, but is beneficial post cesarean birth too?! If you have seen our social media, you’ll know that we have been posting lots of information regarding c-sections and postpartum recovery all month. In the blog today, we are going to round it all out. If you have had a c-section or are planning to have one, keep reading to learn more about how pelvic floor physical therapy can help guide your recovery and assist in your care.

Understanding Cesarean Births:

A cesarean section, commonly known as a c-section, is a way for doctors to safely
deliver a baby in situations where it is not possible, safe, or desired for the baby to be delivered vaginally. Before the c-section, momma receives anesthesia in the form of an epidural or spinal block to numb the lower part of her body. The doctor then makes an incision in the momma’s abdomen and uterus to carefully take the baby and placenta out. Once the baby and placenta are out, the doctor will carefully stitch up the layers of tissue. Most of the time, immediate skin-to-skin contact and even delayed cord clamping are available as well! When it comes to the recovery period, most mommas stay in the hospital for a few days to ensure proper healing and management of any discomfort. Did you know that there are also different types of C-sections? They can be planned, urgent, or emergent. A planned c-section is scheduled in advance and can be due to medical indications such as breech positioning or other health concerns or for personal or cultural reasons. This option allows for careful preparation for momma and the healthcare team, reducing the stress that uncertainty can cause during labor. An urgent c-section occurs when a situation arises during labor that is risky for the health and safety of a momma or baby. In this situation, while the c-section is unplanned, there is still some time for preparation. An emergency c-section occurs when there is an immediate threat to the life and health of a momma and/or baby. This procedure is performed very quickly and typically under general anesthesia to ensure the safety of both.

No matter the type, the recovery phase is crucial, and this includes self-care! It can certainly be tough in the postpartum period, but your body needs time to heal, so rest and sleep should be a priority. Avoid strenuous activities during early recovery to help promote good healing. Monitor for increased bleeding, pain, vaginal pressure, or other abnormal symptoms, and keep your incision site clean and dry. A common misconception is that having a C-section automatically means you avoid pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help empower mommas by providing essential guidance in aftercare related to scar management, activity modifications, pain management, restoring strength, and so much more!

Impact of C-Sections on Pelvic Floor Health:

It is important to note that every momma’s experience with c-section is different! Your pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, bowel, and uterus. While the pelvic floor muscles are not directly affected by the incision during c-section, pregnancy generally impacts the pelvic floor. This can result in issues such as increased urgency, urinary incontinence, painful sex, hip pain, or pelvic organ prolapse. Additionally, the abdominal muscles are directly impacted by the incision being made through them to provide access to the uterus. After surgery, these muscles need time to heal and may feel weak or tender for a while. Some mommas experience difficulty with certain movements, such as lifting heavy objects or sitting up from a lying position.

However, each experience is unique. Some mommas recover quite quickly with minimal effects on their pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, while others may experience challenges that require more time and attention. This is where your pelvic floor physical therapist comes in! We provide personalized guidance and support for each individual’s postpartum recovery.

Common Pelvic Floor Complaints After C-Section:

A common misconception is that pelvic floor physical therapy is only helpful after a vaginal delivery, but many women experience pelvic floor dysfunction after birth, regardless of their delivery type. Some common complaints include back pain, hip pain, core weakness, urinary leakage, constipation, diastasis recti, pelvic or abdominal pain, pain with intercourse, vaginal or pelvic heaviness, or pelvic organ prolapse. In addition, many women experience incision site sensitivity and pain following a C-section. However, just because something is common does not mean it is normal! If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out to us to see how we can help!

The Role of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy:

Your pelvic floor PT is here to support all of your postpartum needs! We love helping mommas, whether that is immediately following a c-section or years later. We are here to provide guidance, support, and treatment tailored to your specific needs. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help with scar tissue management, core and pelvic floor strengthening, pain relief, and any other symptoms you may be experiencing. Your physical therapist can use a variety of
skilled techniques to reduce scar tissue tightness, improve mobility, and reduce sensitivity around the incision. We know you are eager to get back to the activities you love, and we are here to help! Throughout your entire journey, we are also committed to using our extensive knowledge and skill set to help you manage low back, pelvic, and abdominal pain symptoms. No matter what your symptoms may be, the pelvic floor therapists at TVPH are ready to provide a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and goals so we can get you back to doing all the things you love most! We want to support and EMPOWER our mommas on their postpartum healing journeys! Pelvic Floor

Rehabilitation Exercises for C-Section Recovery

Are you ready to get back into your groove after a c-section? Come see us! We know it can be intimidating to think about returning to fitness postpartum, so we are here to help guide and support you! We recommend starting slow with gentle activities like walking or light stretching, such as lying on your back or stomach during tummy time, so you have the opportunity to listen to your body. Gradually increase intensity as you feel ready, and watch out for any signs to slow down, such as increased spotting/bleeding or increased pelvic/abdominal pain. Focusing on the pelvic floor and core to start can give you a great foundation for your return to fitness. Incorporate gentle strengthening exercises such as pelvic tilts and light abdominal contractions. Opting for low-impact exercises such as easy yoga, swimming, or cycling initially can be a great way to reintroduce movement to your body. As always, consult with a pelvic floor physical therapist or certified fitness professional if you are unsure about what
exercises are safest for you!

Navigating Postpartum Recovery:

Throughout your postpartum journey, there are various techniques and self-care strategies that you can use to manage any pain and discomfort you may experience. Some key considerations include:

  • Rest! Allow your body to rest, recover, and heal.
  • A gentle movement that feels good can also aid in healing.
  • Supportive garments such as postpartum belly wraps may be useful if you feel you need extra support.
  • A healthy diet of nutrient-dense foods and adequate hydration is crucial for the healing process.
  • If you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, ensure you have adequate support for
    positioning. Remember, you might spend a lot of time here!
  • Deep breathing and relaxation techniques, such as guided meditation, can be very beneficial in managing pain and reducing stress.
  • Seek emotional support from your partner, family, and friends! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and lean on those who are there to support you.
  • Lastly, remember to always listen to your body; your well-being is a priority in this period!

We encourage all mommas to prioritize their pelvic floor health and consider seeking pelvic floor physical therapy to aid in their postpartum recovery. A pelvic floor PT will take a safe, effective, and personalized approach to your care, with the goal of optimizing your recovery and empowering you throughout the process. Here at Treasure Valley Pelvic Health, there are professionals ready to support you on your journey to recovery and wellness!

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to share your experiences, thoughts, or any questions you might have in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow us on social media as well for additional information and resources!

In Health,
The Team at Treasure Valley Pelvic Health

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