Common C-Section Questions
Does a c-section cut through my abdominal muscles? Is a bikini cut c-section really unnoticeable? What is the recovery like after a c-section? How is a c-section performed?
Many women spend most of their pregnancies assuming that they will be giving birth vaginally. But sometimes, surgery is necessary to give you and your baby the procedure that is the most efficient and safe for your situation. You might deliberately choose a C-section, or be surprised by the need for one.
About 1/3 of the pregnancies in the United States are delivered by c-section (cesarean section).
A C-section is a surgical procedure, but unlike what most women think, your doctor will not be cutting through muscle with the exception of the uterus. When a C-section is performed the fascia is cut horizontally, this is a layer of soft, flexible connective tissue that acts as a sheath over these muscles. Then the abdominal rectus muscles are separated from one another and moved to the side. These muscles are very rarely cut, and if they are they are usually put back together.
According to Dr. Kent Snowden, within six weeks, the fascia usually claims back 90% of its original strength; within a year, it recovers fully. Sometimes stitches are used to reattach the muscles to the fascia, after the baby is out. A transverse (horizontal) cut—the so-called Bikini Cut C-Section—actually causes fewer complications. Since it is below your bikini line it will be far less noticeable than a longitudinal (vertical) incision.
If you want to get a full picture of this 40-50 minute procedure you can read it here. It's a play by play of a c-section procedure, without getting too scientific, while still providing the steps involved in a c-section.
Following a c-section, you will find certain movements can bother your incision site, so back off until you are ready. And only do things you are completely comfortable doing. You can add a support to your abdominal area with a pillow for more comfort.
You should be able to exercise around the 6 week postpartum appointment when your doctor releases you at your postpartum check up. You will just need to start out a little slower than if you had a vaginal delivery.
To find our more about exercise after C-Sections, read C-Section Recovery
And you will enjoy the Truth about C-Sections...everything from your husband coming into the operating room through 5 days post-op.