Fitness: Love Fit, Live Fit with Amber Brammah
A caesarean is the only abdominal surgery where you’re not given an after-care plan, and you get sent away with a baby to care for! It’s therefore imperative that you take your recovery seriously.
Before resuming formal exercise, first focus on healing:
THE EARLY DAYS
I mean REALLY breathe. Try to inhale fully, filling your lungs and expanding your ribs. Then exhale completely, noticing the gentle fall in your belly. This is the first step to reconnecting with your core. Don’t underestimate it.
• Gentle movement
Right away you can start to mobilise your joints. Whilst you’re in hospital, ensure you do this to avoid blood pooling. Gently roll your head, point and flex your toes etc.
• Wound care
Keeping the wound clean and dry is very important. Dab the wound gently, being careful around your stitches. A cool compress can be lovely held against your scar. Try soaking it in tea tree oil and keeping in the fridge until needed.
• Big pants
Ensure you have some lovely high waisted, stretchy knickers, and perhaps your comfy maternity trousers with a big waistband. The last thing you want is any additional pressure on a tender scar, so clothes that come up high and completely cover the area are best.
• Log roll
Many women are surprised to learn that this is something you should continue to do after baby arrives, and not just during pregnancy. In order to minimise pressure on your scar, abdominals and pelvic floor, always make sure you roll onto your side when getting in or out of bed.
• Peppermint tea
Trapped wind is surprisingly very common post birth, and especially post c-section. Pack some peppermint tea in your birth bag, as this helps deflate a gassy tummy.
1-8 WEEKS POST BIRTH
We are essentially made up of water, so drink plenty to keep soft tissue hydrated. It’s one of the most crucial parts of your healing.
All the connective tissue that needs to heal is full of collagen, which is made up of amino acids. So protein is an absolute must. Consider meat, fish, pulses, eggs, beans, nuts, tofu, chia seeds.
• Pelvic floor connection
It’s never too early to begin work on your pelvic floor. I’m afraid that a caesarean birth doesn’t mean your pelvic floor is unaffected: You still grew a human, experienced all the hormonal changes, and possibly endured some degree of labour first. Start by adding a gentle pelvic floor contraction with your exhale breath. For more detail around progressive pelvic floor work, take a look at my YouTube channel.
• Belly wrap
A belly wrap offers much needed support, and an extra layer of cushioning for your tender tummy. It’s not there to shrink your belly, nor will it “switch off” your muscles. If you feel like you need some extra support then please do get some! (And I mean that in both the physical and mental sense).
2+ MONTHS POST BIRTH
Scar massage is an absolutely crucial part of your long-term healing. Scar tissue can form adhesions which, if left untreated, cause stiffness/pain etc. Begin with some very gentle massage once your wound has healed, and then build from there. Check YouTube for videos on how to do this or – better still – go to a women’s health physiotherapist (WHP) who can work on yours, and teach you how to do this at home.
Sadly, access to a knowledgeable WHP isn’t a standard part of postnatal care. If you can afford to, book yourself a Mummy MOT with a reputable WHP.
Never give up on your scar tissue. Not ever. Keep touching, keep moving. Seek help if you feel any pain or discomfort, even if it’s years down the line.
See more of Amber’s tips and details of her various classes at lovefittraining.com