Rest after C-section!
The early weeks postpartum are times of dramatic physiological change and recovery. Even with a picture-perfect planned cesarean, your body is recovering from abdominal surgery after the stresses of pregnancy! This is the time for healing, which will allow you to resume exercise more comfortably and safely. There will be time for exercise and strength building after recovery and physical therapy after c-section would be a great option.
Lochia (postpartum vaginal bleeding/discharge) can be red, brown, yellow and/or white. It should last from two weeks to two months postpartum. If you have heavy bleeding with clots that lasts for days or weeks, alert your care provider.
Postpartum incision care
Monitor your incision site to ensure that it remains clean and dry. If there are signs of infection, reach out to your care provider. Steri strips will fall off on their own. After about 3-4 weeks (when cleared to do so), you can use silicone scar sheets to reduce the risk of developing a thickened scar.
Bracing for BMs, coughing, etc.
The stress on the abdominal wall when having a bowel movement, coughing/sneezing, or other similar activities can cause discomfort at the incision site. Many find benefit from “bracing” by hugging a pillow against their abdomen during these activities.
Get in and out of bed or a recliner by “log rolling” instead of doing a sit up. Roll to your side, then use your hand on that side to press your body up.
Postpartum recovery garments
Many find it comfortable to wear snug and supportive garments during their early recovery. Some use special products (like SRC Recovery) and others prefer high-waisted leggings.
Note: Tight “belly binding” is sometimes advertised as a fix for abdominal separation or relaxed abdominal muscles. There is no evidence to support this. In addition, we find that belly binding often causes uncomfortable pelvic pressure, so we do not recommend it.
Postpartum recovery bladder schedule
Many postpartum people feel that their bladder sensation has changed. For most, time is the key ingredient to recovery of normal sensation. In the meantime, a bladder schedule can help you stay on track. We recommend setting a timer for every 2-3 hours, and emptying your bladder on that schedule even if you don’t feel the urge to do so. Don’t try to “push” urine out – just relax and let your bladder muscle do the work. Once you’re getting a normal urge to empty your bladder, you can phase out this schedule.
Postpartum recovery bowel health
Uncomfortable constipation is common in the first few weeks postpartum! Hormones are changing, you’re moving less, and your daily schedule is thrown off. Many benefit from fiber, laxatives, or magnesium supplements. It is also helpful to try to set a daily routine with breakfast and a hot drink to stimulate a BM. If you are lactating (breastfeeding or pumping), it is also important to drink more water than usual. Talk to your care provider for more assistance on specific supplements if you need help!
Pelvic floor & abdominal postpartum recovery
Doing gentle abdominal and pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels) can help you reconnect with your core muscles after delivery. Physical therapy after c-section can help with this if you're struggling. In your early recovery, focus on building awareness and gradually increasing activity. You should wait to do any structured abdominal exercise until after your incision is healed (about 6 weeks). Before that point, doing gentle breathing and pelvic floor exercises can help you reconnect with the core muscles more gently.
Learn how to do a kegel HERE!
Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) is a normal occurrence in pregnancy and postpartum. Diastasis recti will significantly change during recovery in the first few weeks postpartum. Mild diastasis (up to about 3 finger width) that doesn’t go away with time is still normal. Physical therapy after c-section can help guide you toward building up strength without pushing your body too far. Research tells us that diastasis recti does not cause back pain, urinary incontinence, or prevent you from returning to the activity that you love. Check out more specific information on DRA here!
Postpartum recovery scar care
It is normal to have altered or reduced sensation in the area around the scar. Providing sensory input around and on the scar can help normalize sensation. Start with light touch near the scar, then provide firmer pressure and then directly massage the scar when you’re cleared to do so after 6 weeks postpartum. If this sounds unappealing or scary, you are not alone. It’s important work to do, but you get to choose your pace. Physical therapy afte c-section can help with your scar mobility and pain.
Physical therapy and exercise after c-section
It is absolutely normal to feel like your core abdominal and pelvic muscles are weak after pregnancy. You’ve also just had abdominal surgery! Once you’ve been cleared to exercise, start with low impact, bodyweight movements. Walking is comfortable for some but not all; you may prefer gentle yoga, Pilates, or basic movements such as squats and bridges. Physical therapy can help create a structured and individualized exercise program to help you reach your goals!
Returning to physical intimacy during postpartum recovery
Even if your care provider has cleared you to resume intimacy, the idea can feel daunting at the least. After cesarean delivery, it’s still normal for sensations in and around the vagina and anus to have changed. Likewise, your relationships with your body and your partner have likely shifted. Sleep loss and hormonal changes can also significantly affect libido. The return to postpartum intimacy is one best done with curiosity, open communication, and patience. Check out more specific information here!