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C-Sections and Physical Therapy

Kim Breslin, DPT

It is no myth in society that pregnancy, labor, and delivery all require significant exertion, strength, and fortitude- both emotional and physical. But what about deliveries that are C-sections? Whether your personal choice, or plan B after attempting to push to deliver your baby – does having a C-section mean you don’t go through as much of a trauma as any mother in your labor and delivery process? Absolutely not!

33% of all births in the US are Caesarian sections. What many people forget, healthcare professional included, is that this method is a major SURGERY! A C-section requires cutting through skin, muscle (your rectus abdominis, otherwise known as your six-pack muscle), fascia, and organ linings all to get to your little one. After delivering your baby, your doctor stitches everything back together, and may instruct you to do the following: avoid lifting, exercise, dress your wound, and “rest” for 6 weeks.

While this is all sound advice, with all of the layers of tissue in your body that are stretched during pregnancy and cut through during your C-section, your body might need additional assistance with healing properly. In fact, the incisions and repairs involved in a C-section are no different than those made for a knee replacement or a rotator cuff repair.

Pregnancy itself goes hand in hand with various aches, pains, and lasting injuries. Examples include but are not limited to: low back pain, pelvic pain, hip/groin pain, diastasis recti, incontinence, SI joint dysfunction, sciatica, and pain with sitting, walking, or lifting. Many assume these issues will spontaneously resolve with time once your baby is born. But sometimes-they don’t. Just because the doctor said to give your stomach six weeks to recover doesn’t mean you can then return to all pre-baby activities.

Thankfully, physical therapists specialize in musculoskeletal injuries and pain, and are here to help. Why wait and cross your fingers to see if your pain will diminish and if your body will bounce back to the way it was pre-baby? Physical therapists can assist you in safely healing your body and returning to exercise.

So how, specifically, can physical therapy help after a C-section? To start, your physical therapist will evaluate you and develop a personalized plan of care tailored towards your needs. He or she might use skilled manual techniques including soft tissue mobilization, manual stretching, or instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization to help your scar heal, and decrease any adhesions (scar tissue) that may have developed in your abdomen. Your physical therapist might also focus on core and pelvic floor retraining, improving flexibility, and posture. You will receive hands-on care from an expert, and learn stretches and exercises that will help your body recover more quickly and effectively.

If you have experienced any recent or long-term problems resulting from a C-section delivery, call today for an evaluation, and find out how we, at Boston Sports Medicine, can help! Our knowledgeable, supportive, and dedicated staff look forward to working with you, just make sure you are cleared by your OB-GYN to return to exercise if you have a new baby!