Roughly one in three babies in the United States are born via a Cesarean section, making the C-section one of the most common inpatient surgical procedures. Even though doctors and medical teams are becoming more efficient and the process is getting safer each day, a C-section is still a major trauma on a new mother. With a lot of attention now focused on the new baby, sometimes the health of the mother can get overlooked as she recovers from surgery.
Most new mothers receive a consultation and instructions about how to recover and which exercises to perform to improve abdominal strength after a C-section, but prescribing physical therapy isn’t standard in the US. However, according to a recent study, women who received physical therapy after undergoing a C-section had significantly improved outcomes compared to those who did not. Below, we take a closer look at why you should consider PT after a Cesarean section, and how the team at OrthoRehab Specialists can help after you deliver your baby.
C-Section And Your Body
Childbirth is an extremely physical process, and that’s especially true if doctors need to deliver the baby via a C-section. Research has shown that mothers who have undergone a C-section have the same or higher rates of back pain, incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse compared to those who deliver vaginally. However, physical therapy after this major surgery isn’t standard like it is with so many other operations, like knee or hip surgery. If we truly want new mothers to experience full recovery, shouldn’t they complete a physical therapy program?
To better understand if PT could help new mothers make a fuller recovery after childbirth, researchers conducted a small scale study. 72 women who gave birth via C-section were split into two groups. 39 patients received the standard hospital care, which included a PT consult, written information about scar management and a general program of suggested exercises. The other 33 received six weeks of PT-led physical therapy, which focused on aspects like scar therapy, soft tissue mobilization and core stabilization.
After comparing the results, researchers found that participants who received PT once or twice a week achieved substantially lower pain levels more quickly than those in the standard care group. Moreover, these patients had higher satisfaction scores at both 14 weeks and six months post-op. Other findings from the study include:
- There was significantly more self-reported ability to perform exercise in the PT group from 14 weeks to 18 months.
- The control group reported lower levels of exercise ability compared to their baseline at the same intervals.
- Patient satisfaction was similar once the 12- and 18-month mark was reached.
PT After A C-Section
So even though it was a relatively small study, the research suggests that there are a number of benefits associated with following through with a PT-led physical therapy program in the wake of a C-section. You’re going to need to care for your scar, strengthen tissues and muscles that were cut and revitalize your core, and it’s easy for these needs to get put on the back burner while you tend to your little one.
That said, baby will be better off if mom takes care of herself and is in better physical shape, so really consider what’s best for you and your family. It’s easy to say that you’ll read the pamphlet that the hospital gives you and follow through with the exercises, but the fact of the matter is that most don’t. Instead of hoping that you’ll recover with rest alone, prioritize your health and connect with a physical therapist. Take a little time once or twice a week and help fuel your body’s recovery after a C-section. We’ve helped countless mothers overcome core weakness and painful scar tissue development, and we can do the same for you.
For more information about how we can help you in the wake of a C-section, or to learn more about our expecting mother and postpartum recovery programs, give the team at OrthoRehab Specialists a call today.