Women's Health

Bring My Belly Back: What Happens To Your Stomach After A C-Section

Published:

October 18, 2018

We all know that pregnancy changes everything, especially our bodies. For too long, women have been told to expect that they’ll never look or feel the same again. I think that you can have your pre-baby belly back, and it’s more than just a beauty thing.

It’s not just about the scar.

C-section scars are not known for their discretion, but there is a lot more to belly repair than just how it will look later. The abdominal wall is made up of many muscles, skin, fat, and layers of tissue called fascia that keep your wall strong and help it work right.

In order to get to the baby in the womb, all of these layers are divided, like a triple-decker sandwich cut in half. But traditional wall repair only involves closing some of these layers. So what happens to the rest? They stick together randomly, usually creating dents and step-offs, and also a less-than-beautiful scar.

Muscle and Fascia

The rectus muscles are supposed to lie straight down the abdominal wall, and they need to be connected from top to bottom in one continuous layer in order to work right. If they separate side-to-side or aren’t properly repaired top-to-bottom, they can’t contract as a unit. The end result is poor belly strength, and sometimes even trouble going to the bathroom.

Diastasis

The separation down the middle between the rectus muscles is called a diastasis recti. This happens more often than not, and leads to weakness and bulging in the middle of the belly. It can even lead to hernias down the road. While targeted exercises can help strengthen the rectus muscle, repair and recentering is the only way to get things back where they belong.

Once the muscles are centered and repaired, targeted rebalancing can get you back to your pre-pregnancy belly. Restoring your abdominal wall strength will also help rebalance your back, which by now must be killing you.

C-Section Surgery

Cesarean section surgery originally started as a trauma operation. The goal was to get the baby out alive—even though for years that meant that the mother wouldn’t make it. The incision was made straight down the middle, and bleeding was often uncontrolled. Over time, and with advances in surgical techniques, surgeons were able to get the baby out without sacrificing the mother. This was a huge step for modern medicine.

Over the years, surgical techniques expanded to include transverse incisions under the waistline, allowing for a hidden final scar, and better suture material to allow the uterus to recover for future pregnancies. But progress stopped there.

While c-sections used to be a small minority of all births, today they have become the norm. There are many reasons why patients and their doctors lean towards surgery rather than vaginal birth even without a medical need. And there’s a lot of politics around the issue.

The crucial part of so many c-sections being performed, however, is the fact that few new moms achieve a proper wall reconstruction either during or after the birth of their child. Women are told to accept the fact that they can’t empty their bladders or exercise like they used to. And they are told to accept the hanging skin, stretch marks, and unsightly bulges we’ve all come to know in varying degrees.

Non-Surgical Rehab

Whether or not you’ve had a c-section—even whether or not you’ve had a baby—you need your core. It’s called your core for a reason: Your body’s entire balance depends on it.

After pregnancy, your belly loses its stability, and this throws everything off. The weaker your belly gets, the weaker your back is. All balance is lost, and the cycle perpetuates itself.

Restoring your core happens through more than just surgery. It happens with targeted exercises and strength training. It happens through a methodical approach with an experienced guide. And it should be a lifestyle rather than a fitness program.

 

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