C-Sections and Pelvic Floor Health: What Every Birthing Person Needs to Know

A c-section, otherwise known as a cesarean, is a surgical procedure where a baby is delivered through an incision in the birthing person’s abdomen and uterus. This procedure is often recommended when vaginal delivery poses risks to the birthing person or baby’s health, such as in cases of breech presentation, multiple pregnancies, or medical conditions like preeclampsia. While a c-section can be a lifesaving intervention, it also carries risks and consequences, including an impact on the pelvic floor.

C-Sections and the Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum. These muscles play a crucial role in maintaining urinary and bowel continence, sexual function, and core stability.

During pregnancy and childbirth, the pelvic floor undergoes significant changes to accommodate growth and allow for delivery. However, a c-section bypasses this process, and the pelvic floor muscles may not receive the same level of preparation and stimulation as they would during a vaginal birth.

So, how does a c-section affect the pelvic floor? The short answer is that it varies from person to person. Some people may experience no changes, while others may notice pelvic floor symptoms such as incontinence, pelvic pain, or sexual dysfunction.

3 Physical Impacts of C-Sections

1. Delayed onset of pelvic floor muscle activation

During a vaginal birth, the pelvic floor muscles are stretched and stimulated, which can help improve their tone and function. In contrast, during a c-section, the muscles may not receive the same level of activation, which can delay their recovery.

2. Abdominal muscle weakness

C-sections involve cutting through the abdominal muscles, which can lead to weakness and instability in the core. This can affect the pelvic floor muscles’ ability to work efficiently, as they rely on the support of the core muscles to function properly.

3. Scar tissue formation

The incision made during a c-section can result in scar tissue formation, which can cause adhesions and restrict mobility in the pelvic area. This can affect the pelvic floor muscles’ ability to contract and relax properly, leading to symptoms like pain and discomfort.

Healing After C-Sections

How can a birthing person heal physically and mentally after a c-section? Keep reading for some of my favorite tips that I use to help my pelvic floor physical therapy patients.

1. Practice deep breathing and core exercises

Deep breathing can help improve core stability, support the pelvic floor muscles, and even prevent abdominal separation. Try inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth, focusing on relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. You can also incorporate gentle core exercises like pelvic tilts and bridges to help strengthen the abdominal muscles.

2. Take care of your incision

Proper incision care can help prevent infection and promote healing. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on how to care for your incision, such as how to keep the area clean and dry, and when to contact them if you notice any signs of infection or complications.

3. Gradually increase activity

While it’s important to rest and allow your body time to heal after a c-section, too much rest can also be detrimental. Gradually increasing your activity level, such as taking short walks or doing gentle stretches, can help improve circulation and prevent muscle weakness.

4. Manage pain and discomfort

It’s common to experience pain and discomfort after a c-section, both in the incision area and in the pelvic floor. Your healthcare provider can provide pain medication and suggest strategies like ice or heat therapy to manage pain. You can also try relaxation techniques like meditation or gentle massage to help alleviate discomfort.

5. Seek emotional support

A c-section can also have a significant emotional impact on the birthing person, as it may not align with their birth preferences or expectations. This can lead to feelings of disappointment, guilt, or failure, which can affect their mental health and wellbeing. These feelings can lead to mental health affecting physical health, also known as psychosomatic symptoms.

That’s why it’s important to seek emotional support as well as physical. Talk to your healthcare provider, partner, or a mental health professional if you’re experiencing feelings of disappointment, guilt, or anxiety. Joining a support group for c-section recovery can also be helpful.

6. Be patient and kind to yourself

Recovery after a c-section takes time, and it’s important to be patient and kind to yourself during this process. Don’t compare your recovery to others, and focus on small steps towards healing and wellness. Remember that healing is a journey, and every step counts towards your overall well being.

7. Consider seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist

A pelvic floor physical therapist can assess your pelvic floor function and provide individualized treatment to address any issues. They can also teach you proper exercise technique and provide guidance on activities to avoid or modify.

While a c-section can have an impact on the pelvic floor, there are steps that a birthing person can take to heal physically and mentally. As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I encourage anyone who has had a c-section to prioritize their pelvic floor health and seek the support they need to recover fully.

Ready to Heal After A C-Section? Let’s chat!

C-Sections are life-changing surgeries that can bring in the beauty of a new baby while also toting along some heavier baggage, like physical and emotional healing that goes along with recovering.it is essential you undergo proper postoperative care including pelvic floor physical therapy. With an experienced, qualified therapist (like me!) to work with in the recovery process, patients can look forward to optimal outcomes both short term and long term after c-sections.

Want to work together? Book a virtual or in-person session (Minnesota) with me to receive a specialized, unique-to-you treatment plan to get the healing you need.

Looking for additional resources on pelvic health? My YouTube channel holds dozens of videos where I offer free pelvic floor training, yoga exercises, and more. My instagram page takes a little bit more of a light hearted approach while still providing educational content. And of course, if you have a specific pelvic floor subject you’re looking for more information on, a quick search of my blogs may give you the answers you need.

More content you may like:

Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. Laura Meihofer’s LLC is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and others, as an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products Laura organically uses and trusts. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but Laura will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps her spread her message!

Follow And Stay Connected

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.