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The Cesarean Section
What is a cesarean section?
A cesarean section, commonly referred to as a c-section, is a method of delivery where the baby is removed from a mother’s uterus via abdominal incision. A woman and her physician may decide that a c-section is the best decision for her and her child for a multitude of reasons, including risk factors in a mother such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or infections. Women may also decide to have a c-section if they are giving birth to a large baby, multiple babies (twins, triplets, etc), or if the baby is breech.
What does a cesarean section entail?
An incision is made in the woman’s abdomen in order to access the uterus. In most cases, obstetricians select what is called a low-transverse incision, which is a horizontal cut below the bikini line. In some cases, a vertical incision may be selected instead. This process requires the physician to cut through several layers of tissue, such as the fascia connecting the four abdominal muscles in order to separate the muscles themselves. After separation of the uterus from other urogenital organs, the uterus is cut for careful removal of the baby along with the placenta and umbilical cord. The birthing team then sutures the uterus, overlying connective tissue, and skin.
What happens next? How can pelvic floor PT help?
As you now know, a c-section is a major surgery and recovery from it should reflect that. It is important to rehab your body after a c-section just as you would attend physical therapy after having a rotator cuff repair. Once cleared by your physician (typically at six to eight weeks after giving birth), working with a physical therapist can ease and expedite recovery while decreasing associated pain. Initial sessions will involve regaining neuromuscular control in the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, specifically those which have been sliced through during surgery– the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques. Sessions will also include scar and soft tissue mobilization, nerve desensitization, hip and mid-back mobility, and strength training for any weakened muscles. Pelvic floor physical therapy will also give you the opportunity to address any additional concerns such as bowel and bladder issues, scar irritation, or pain with sex.
Childbirth is a beautiful but individual process and it is important to select the delivery method which works best for you and your family. No matter how your baby is delivered, we are here for you both during pregnancy and postpartum.