One in four babies in the UK is born by caesarean section, so what does this mean for your tummy muscles and stomach after c-section and how do you go about reducing your belly after pregnancy? TalkMum expert Wendy Powell shares her advice.
In terms of your stomach after c-section, layers of tissue are cut, and then sewn back together, which creates scarring through multiple levels of tissue of your abdominal wall. This scarring affects the muscles’ ability to glide over the top of each other during muscle contraction. The result is weakness and a lack of stabilization. But take note: your muscles have not been cut. The 2 parts of the rectus muscle (vertical, six pack outermost abdominal muscles) was further parted manually to get to your baby.
But whilst muscles have not been cut, ligaments and fascia have been, and this all takes time to heal. The more you can ‘connect with’ and use your deep core muscles, the quicker recovery will be.
Scar tissue and adhesions can cause a tummy overhang, and body fat may appear to be unevenly distributed around your middle. Stress, lack of sleep and a lack of sensation or confidence with your stomach (factors all common to most new mums!) will make this worse.
If you have had one or more Cesarean births, or other abdominal surgery, then there may also be scar tissue or adhesions exacerbating your mummy tummy. Massage (just rub the skin gently between your fingers around the scar) will help to break down scar tissue, encourage oxygen flow in, and toxin flow out of, the area which will aid healing.
Don't try to get up from lying on your back - always roll to your side first. And don’t - under any circumstances, not now or in the future - do sit ups or crunches!
In the early days, massage, mobilize, and find your deep muscles, eat clean fresh food to recover and nourish your body, try to get plenty of sleep and love your body a little. Healing and restoring these muscles is the vital foundation of a flatter tummy again, so don’t even consider anything more strenuous until your body has learnt how to use them again!