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C-Section Recovery, Breathing and what to do in the first 6 weeks.

By Angela Jameson on 5 October 2020

I am sure my father in law would not mind me using him as a reference but a few years ago now, he had a hip operation to help repair his hip joint after falling from his road bike on a closed circuit cycling event. Since his operation he has had multiple follow up appointments with his surgeon, physiotherapist and hydrotherapy to help his recovery with plenty of ‘homework’ to be done at home in between appointments. He has worked very hard to recover and rehab his hip and he has had to retrain his body to return to his ‘normal’ pre-injured activity level and he is still not quite there yet.

Since the arrival of my baby boy via a C-section it got me thinking about all the women who return to exercise post a C-section and how little information women are given about the process. After my boy was born, I was told the following

  • 1. Dont lift anything (heavier than your newborn baby)
  • 2. Dont drive for 6 weeks
  • 3. Dont go up and down stairs if you can help it

WAIT A MINUTE! WHAT?! How am I supposed to cope? I have just had MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY!!!

Luckily for me I had 2 of the most amazing women in my life come and save the day, my mom and mother in law! Phew! Without them I am not sure how I would have gotten through it! They came and did the washing, cooking, cleaning, school pick up and drop off and walking the dog. I could not have done it without them! Oh! and not to forget my fabulous childminder who came to collect and drop off my daughter so she had some fun and other kiddies to play with whilst I could rest and recuperate. Plus, my brilliant husband who took the bull by the horns, and did so much more than I could have asked him to do so that I could just rest and recover.  So, it took a team to help me within the first 6 weeks, but thats not even mentioning my active steps to recovery!

WHAT!!! A women who has had MAJOR (and I say MAJOR) abdominal surgery should wait 6 weeks before they are signed off by their GP to get going and start exercising again! STOP! NO! PLEASE WAIT!!

Where is your physiotherapy referral?

What about how to move during those first 6 weeks?

What exercises are safe for me to do and what should I avoid?

How do I care for other siblings whilst I have a newborn?

I am here to tell you how you can start to do things within the first 6 weeks to help with your healing process; so take a deep breathe and lets begin…..

  • 1. Rest and relax as much as you possibly can
  • 2. Rolling over every time you aim to sit up or lie down, aim to lie on your side first. This will avoid any crunching or sit up type position which will put a lot of pressure on the scar and abdominals.
  • 3. Restore your breathing. Start re-connecting with your breathe. Super easy and simple to do when lying in bed resting. Breathe in to feel ribcage and belly gently expand and relax and breathe out to feel ribcage soften in and down, naval draw gently towards spine and engage your pelvic floor gently. Before you do any lifting, rolling or sit to stand movements try practicing your breathe and breathe out to perform the movement or lift.
  • 4. Walking  – increase your walking slowly depending on your energy levels. Some days you will feel great and other days you might feel like you have taken a step backwards. That’s quite normal. Go with your body, and if you feel great do some more walking and if not, rest more. Eventually you will feel up for doing more even if at the time you don’t feel like that will ever happen!
  • 5. See a women’s wellness physiotherapist in your area. Even if you don’t have pain or discomfort it would be a good idea just to have an overall clearance with a professional who understands what you have gone through and can really tell you how your body is healing.
  • 6. Start some gentle exercises. (guided my a fitness professional who specializes in women’s health and fitness)  This very much depends on each person, some feel ready to go within 2 weeks of a C-section and others take much longer.
  • 7. Don’t be hard on yourself and this is not a time to push yourself to test your limits, go with your body and if it says yes I am ready to try and do more, then do, and if you feel exhausted the next day it’s a sign your body is still recovering and building its strength so do less. Eventually your body will just do what you are asking.

Happy Healing! 

Go slow and build a strong foundation!

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