Art by Catie Atkinson
Contributed by Erin Williams, DPT
Whether you are planning to have a cesarean delivery or not, every pregnant woman should be well informed regarding cesarean procedures. Being well informed will reduce anxiety and make an expectant mom feel prepared if plans suddenly change from a vaginal delivery to a cesarean, and will ultimately set you up for an efficient postpartum recovery.
Since a cesarean delivery is a surgical procedure, there is minimal damage to the pelvic floor and little that can be done to prepare for it, right? WRONG!
Studies have shown that strain and dysfunction to the pelvic floor muscles often occur from the weight of a growing baby, which challenges the integrity of the pelvic floor for 9+ months, creating more stress on the pelvic floor than a vaginal delivery itself. Opting for a cesarean does not mean you will preserve your vagina in perfect condition.
Here are 3 actionable steps which can help prepare you for a cesarean delivery.
- Practice a safe and effective strategy for getting in and out of bed now while pregnant that you can implement post-cesarean. This can help decreased intra-abdominal pressure, pain, and strain on the abdominal muscles that are involved with a cesarean delivery. Think “log roll” by rolling fully to your side, swing legs over the bed and use your arms to press yourself up to sitting while exhaling to protect the incision site at the lower abdominal muscles.
- Train and improve awareness of your pelvic floor now as it is part of the “core team” along with the diaphragm and abdominals. Due to the abdominal incision site of a cesarean surgery the pelvic floor muscles work extra hard post surgery to compensate for the abdominal muscles while they heal. A good starting point to increase pelvic floor strength and awareness is to try Fit Pregnancy Club’s Pump and Kegel class as well as to invest in 2-3 Pelvic Health Physical Therapy sessions to dive deeper into engaging the pelvic floor correctly with daily activities.
- A cesarean delivery is a major abdominal surgery, so much like individuals prepare for an ACL surgery by strengthening the knee muscles as well as surrounding hip and ankle muscles it is a good idea to strengthen the core as well as quads, glutes, and trunk musculature to allow for a safe and efficient recovery post-cesarean. Where to start? Hire a pregnancy/postpartum coach/personal trainer or physical therapist to take you through guided safe full-body exercises. Try all of Fit Pregnancy Club’s safe and full-body workout classes!
There is so much that women can do to mentally and physically prepare for a cesarean delivery regardless if it is your first choice of delivery or not! It is always better to feel prepared, confident, and knowledgeable about all possible labor and delivery options to set yourself up for the best success possible during labor and postpartum!