Cesarean Sections and Pelvic Physical Therapy
Cesarean sections, or C-sections, are one of the most common surgeries performed. Twenty two percent of women in the United States have undergone one. Some C-sections are planned and scheduled, and some are performed due to complications that occur during labor. A C-section is a major abdominal surgery. Yet, most women do not receive any education or support when it comes to recovering from this surgery. I am here to encourage women who are in their childbearing years (or even after!) to see a pelvic floor physical therapist after giving birth, whether C-section or vaginal. It is common to see a physical therapist after knee replacements, hip replacements, ACL repairs, etc. So let’s make it common to see a physical therapist after a C-section!
Having a baby is hard on your stomach muscles. During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles have been over stretched and strained. Then, your abdominal muscles are cut during a C-section in order to safely remove your baby. Some common symptoms that can occur after having a C-section include:
- Back pain
- Bowel and bladder dysfunction
- Scar tissue/adhesions
- Scar pain/sensitivity
How can physical therapy help after Cesarean sections?
Depending on your symptoms, your pelvic PT will assess your posture, low back, hips, your abdominal wall (including your scar), and pelvic floor. If you are reading this and are 6 months postpartum or 6 years postpartum, it is NEVER too late to start working on your C-section scar! During your plan, your physical therapist will teach you scar massage to improve the healing of the scar and reduce any pain and sensitivity that may occur. They can help rehabilitate your core muscles to improve strength and coordination. Your core consists of your abdominals AND your pelvic floor, diaphragm, and deep back muscles called multifidi. All those muscles need to work together for a happy core!
A recent study shows that those who participate in physical therapy after giving birth post Cesarean sections had improved outcomes. This includes less pain, better satisfaction, and improved confidence with exercise ability. If you haven’t worked with a physical therapist since giving birth, now is the time to schedule your evaluation. There is so much we can do to help! And, check out Kegels are Not the Answer for Everything to learn more about pelvic floor physical therapy.
Stone, Jennifer DPT, OCS, PHC1; Skibiski, Katie DPT, PHC1; Hwang, Sarah MD2; Barnes, Courtney MPH, MD, FACOG1 Physical Therapy in Addition to Standard of Care Improves Patient Satisfaction and Recovery Post-cesarean Section, Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy: January/March 2021 – Volume 45 – Issue 1 – p 10-19 doi: 10.1097/JWH.0000000000000187