C-Section Moms, You are Strong!

April is Cesarean Awareness Month! In the US, approximately 32% of babies are born via c-section. Being a women’s health physical therapist, I’m lucky to have the opportunity to aid other c-section moms in their recovery, and I’ve always found joy in hearing their birth stories. Every mom’s experience is different, including my own. 

I’ve given two ways; my son was a routine vaginal birth, but my daughter was born via c-section. At the time of her birth, I had been a women’s health physical therapist for 6 years and had treated hundreds of moms. I understood what a c-section entailed and felt prepared for what I was getting into (or so I thought). Being on the patient side gave me a whole new appreciation for what c-section moms experience, along with a few personal eye-opening experiences. 

A New Normal

A c-section is major surgery. An incision is made through your abdominal muscles to get to the uterus, and ultimately to the baby. When your abdominal muscles are cut into, it HURTS. You use your abs for nearly every movement you make, so everything you do after surgery causes pain. Despite my experience as a PT and prior surgeries I had myself, I was not prepared for nor expected the pain I would have following my c-section. The pain limited my mobility and I required more help from others than I ever had before. 

Once we were home, caring for a newborn and a toddler was a whole new experience (and not an easy one). The combination of recovering from major surgery while taking care of a newborn and a toddler was overwhelming. Not only was my body healing, but I was also sleep deprived from being up all night nursing a newborn and taking care of my toddler during the day. The fact that a mother’s body can still push through it all and continue to heal is truly amazing! This adjustment period was not only physically tough, but mentally tough for me and my whole family. Over time we were able to settle in to our new “normal” and life became somewhat more routine. 

Go Easy on Exercise

It took me longer to return to my exercise routine after my c-section than I anticipated. Although I knew it would take some time to get back to where I was before pregnancy, I still thought that when I was 6 weeks postpartum I’d be able to get right back to the gym. I did it after the birth of my son, after all! That was not the case this time around.

Once I was able to be more active, I was weaker than I ever expected. I also had more discomfort at the site of my scar when I would exercise, so I needed to start at a much slower pace. After my c-section, it took 3 months until I felt I was able to work out like I had before; with my son it only took 6 weeks! My daughter is now 4, and I’m finally feeling like I have the strength and endurance to do things I want to do.

One Tough Mama!

C-section moms are some of the toughest and strongest women out there, and c-sections are far from being the “easy way out”. I’m not trying to downplay a vaginal birth; I’ve experienced that as well and it was no walk in the park. However, to literally have your belly cut open and a baby pulled out of you, and then immediately have to take care of your newborn…WOW. How amazing is that? I felt more invincible after my c-section than I ever had before. I just had a major surgery, and 3 days later I was home taking care of my family. These are not the expectations following any other major surgery, but c-section moms have to get it done. 

I am grateful for my c-section.

I’ve been able to experience both a vaginal birth and a c-section, and I am so lucky for that! I have two unique birth stories, and have felt my bond with other moms grow more and more. What our bodies go through is amazing, no matter the type of birth. Although my c-section was so much “more” than I was anticipating, I would do it again IN A HEARTBEAT. When you go home with your newborn after all you went through, you truly feel like a superhero. 

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Dr. Jill is a mom, wife, and women's health physical therapist. She married Ryan in 2010 and they have 2 children, Easton (2013) and Molly (2015). Their family enjoys being active by participating in various activities, being outside, and going to the lake in the summer. Jill has been a physical therapist for 10 years. She is a Women's Health Certified Specialist and has earned a Certificate of Achievement in Pelvic Health Physical Therapy. She is also certified in pelvic floor dry needling. She practices at Apex Physical Therapy and Wellness in West Fargo. She loves her work and greatly enjoys advocating for the health of women! Jill feels very lucky to be able to work part-time, which makes for a very busy clinic schedule but also a lot of good time at home with her family. Give her a follow on Instagram.

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