It’s important for all new parents to conserve energy and protect their own bodies while adjusting to the care of a new baby, especially those who have had a cesarean section. Abdominal straining, which can occur with heavy and improper lifting, can contribute to wound separation, hernias, prolapse, and diastasis.
As a cesarean section is an abdominal surgery, your doctor will likely advise you to not lift anything over 8-10 lbs, depending on the doctor as well as the details regarding your cesarean and your personal health. Lifting restrictions typically last anywhere from 6-8 weeks. This may prevent you from lifting household items heavier than a gallon of milk, which means no carrying baskets of laundry or heavy bags of groceries.
This will also mean that you won’t be able to lift and carry an older sibling during this time. If possible, encourage the older sibling to climb onto your lap, into bed, into the car, etc. Also, try to get help around the house and with chores such as grocery shopping, lifting heavy loads of laundry, and other activities that require moderate to heavy lifting.
Position your body so that you are lifting your baby straight on, not from the side or at an angle. Get close to the crib, changing table, etc. so you avoid unnecessary strain when lifting and putting baby down. The same goes with lifting the baby carrier: keep the carrier close to your body and do not place the carrier in the car from the side or at an angle. Placing one foot in the vehicle can assist in preventing leaning too far over and straining your back.
One of the most important things I teach ALL of my patients, is to exhale with exertion, or blow as you go. What does this mean? Exhale as you are lifting the baby, car seat, etc. Exhaling will allow your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles to fire appropriately to protect your spine and prevent hernias, diastasis, prolapse, and c-section incision strain.
Here are a few easy tips/ tricks you can do prior to giving birth:
- Set up baskets or stations for baby care with needed supplies that support and protect the body by eliminating unneeded bending, lifting, twisting, and stair negotiation.
- Bending over the changing table can cause a sore back and neck. Set up a station that allows you to change and dress your baby at hip height to avoid having to lean over. Have all the supplies you need at hand in a place where you do not need to bend and struggle to reach or find things.
- Having a “nursing station” with comfortable furniture and all of your needed supplies will allow you to nurse or feed your baby while you rest comfortably. Many find rocking chairs or recliners with footstools to work well as furniture. Use a small pillow to support your low back and another pillow to support the baby and to keep them off the c-section scar. Have a basket or shelf next to the chair with all supplies you may need including diapers, wipes, changing pads, towels, blankets, a bottle of water, an extra change of baby clothes, and anything else you may need: tissues, a book, magazines, a phone charger, etc. This will reduce your need to get up and down, and allow the baby to nurse while you rest.
Do you need further help managing your pregnancy and postpartum symptoms? Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy can help! Contact us to schedule a one-on-one session!