Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reconnecting with Your Core after a Cesarean Birth

A cesarean delivery is major abdominal surgery – following your infant’s birth, rehabilitation of the abdominal muscles is important for re-developing the strong core stability needed for parenting a new baby.  Similar to a vaginal delivery, you can begin retraining your core on the day you give birth, with some modifications.  Here are some ideas to get you started during your hospital stay!

Day 1 
Exercise and gentle activity will bring extra blood flow to the incision area – this circulation actually promotes healing.  Make sure you check in with your doctor before starting.

Generally, within 12-18 hours following your delivery you will be asked walk around to improve digestion, reduce muscle stiffness and prevent blood clots.  Try supporting your incision with your hands or a pillow while you walk.

Continuing to support your incision, practice some gentle belly-breathing exercises while lying in bed – feel your belly, ribcage and chest fill with air as you inhale, then exhale slowly through pursed lips, expelling all the stale air from the lungs.  

Light Kegel exercises can be done while lying down.  Draw the vaginal muscles into the body, at the same time imagine shutting off the flow of urine and holding in a bowel movement to work the different muscles of the pelvic floor.  Hold for 3-5 seconds each time, being sure to maintain steady breathing.

Days 2 – 3
Continue the above exercises, supporting your incision as needed.  Adding on…

Heel Slides
Lying on your bed with your legs lengthened, activate the pelvic floor (do a Kegel) and draw the belly into the spine.  Bending the knee, lightly drag one heel towards the buttock, keeping the other leg relaxed and the hips level.  Lengthen the heel back to the start position and repeat on the other side.  Alternate 5-10 times on each side.

Pelvic Tilt
Lying on your bed with your knees bent and the feet hip-width apart, activate the pelvic floor (do a Kegel).  Lightly squeeze your glutes (your buttock muscles) together, flattening your back along the bed.  Repeat 5-10 times.

Hip Lift
Lying on your bed with your legs lengthened, lift one hip slightly off the bed, leaving the other side relaxed.  Release back to the start position and repeat on the other side.  Alternate 5-10 times on each side.

After leaving the hospital, your incision will continue to heal and you will soon be up and about without too much discomfort.  At this point, adding abdominal curls, reverse curls and plank exercises to your exercise regime is safe, provided that your healthcare provider gives you the green light!

Finding it difficult to stay disciplined with your pelvic floor exercises on your own? Feeling like you need more instruction and cues? You're in luck...there's an app for that! Download the Fit 4 Two-approved Pelvic Floor Trainer App and enjoy both visual and audio routines at your fingertips. 

Ready to try a Fit 4 Two class?  Contact your local Fit 4 Two Instructor for a pass to try a FREE class.

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