Pilates For Caesarian Section Recovery
Exercise following a Caesarian Section can feel like a daunting prospect for many women, and yet exercise is the key to feeling healthy, strong and fit for enjoying life with your new baby.
A Caesarian Section is recognised as major abdominal surgery, and with an average of one in four babies in Ireland being born by this method, there is an increasing need to provide information to empower new mums to feel in control of their physical wellbeing.
When a baby is delivered by Caesarian Section, the surgeons need to gain access to the womb through the front of the lower tummy – the abdominal wall. They have the option of either surgically dividing the muscles of the abdominal wall, or using ‘blunt dissection’ with their fingers. This means that the soft tissue (‘fascia’) and core muscles at the front of the woman’s tummy are separated in order to allow for the baby to be safely delivered. The obstetrician will suture these layers together once the baby has arrived.
This zone of muscle is considered a key area for providing ‘corset-type’ support for a healthy and strong lower back. It is also important for the transmission of forces from the arms through to the legs for activities such as walking, running, bending, lifting, and reaching.
It is often after the third month (typically when the baby is more settled and closer to a routine) that women begin to report concerns or frustrations that day to day activities, such as carrying the car seat or lifting the baby up from the floor, are not as easy as they had expected. This is the time when a woman can commence Pilates to start regaining her core strength and fitness. A Chartered Physiotherapist can palpate or feel for core muscle activation following a Caesarian Section, and can teach the technique for a correct ‘core contraction’ which is the cornerstone of a successful recovery.
Pilates exercises can then be modified in order to target the areas and movements which are most affected by a Caesarian Section, as well as to address specific areas of weakness around the hips and pelvis following the pregnancy itself. Many women are surprised to discover that they may leak urine or have pelvic floor problems following a Caesarian delivery, as they have not undergone a vaginal delivery. Pilates can help to address these issues, and offers a fun and challenging environment where progress can be seen from week to week.
A Pilates class for Caesarian Section recovery may include squats, abdominal exercises, hip stability and upper body strengthening allowing for a full body workout. It is a great opportunity to meet with other mums who have been through a similar procedure, and to gain tips on scar management and other aspects of the recovery process.
*It is advisable to wait for three months before commencing group pilates classes following Caesarian Section.