A Caesarean section is major abdominal surgery so it’s no surprise that it’s going to take you a little while to get back on track afterwards. Many people assume that your tummy muscles are cut when you have a Caesarean section which will mean a long recovery period. This simply isn’t true.
A cut approximately 15cm wide is made just above your pubic bone, through multiple layers of skin and fascia. The rectus abdominus muscle (your six pack muscle) is then manually separated to allow the surgeon to gain access to your uterus but it’s NOT cut.
It’s worth planning to have family around to help you in those early weeks. If your partner is taking paternity leave for the first two weeks it might be an idea to get family to come and stay with you once he has returned to work. It takes about six weeks for tissues to heal, so during this time you need to really be taking it easy – eat well, drink plenty, sleep as much as you can and try to go for gentle walks as this will help to boost your circulation, flushing out toxins and promoting healing. Avoid lifting anything heavier than baby in those early weeks and do make sure you take adequate pain killers.
Many mums find themselves stooping when they walk after a Caesarean. Although it may feel that the stitches may ‘pop’ if you walk straight – this won’t happen but your back will definitely start to feel sore. Gently holding your tummy near the incision when you walk and also when you cough or laugh can feel more comfortable.
The layers of tissue that are cut will then undergo scarring once they have been sewn back together. Scar tissue and adhesions can affect the distribution of fat around your tummy which explains the ‘overhang’ that many mums talk about after they’ve had a caesarean. So, once your scar has healed at about seven or eight weeks postnatal, try to gently massage your scar using moisturiser or massage oil. This will help to break down the scar tissue and promote healing by boosting the circulation to the area.
Don’t start doing sit-ups, high impact exercise or any exercise programme that isn’t specifically designed for recovering mums. Make sure you give yourself the time you need to recover properly!