What is a Caesarean Section?
Caesarean section (CS) is an increasingly common abdominal surgical procedure, both worldwide and in Ireland, with an average national rate of 32% according to a National Report by the HSE in 2017. It describes a surgical approach to deliver a baby, where an incision is made through the abdomen and uterus, leaving the muscles of the abdomen intact. A CS can be planned in advance, particularly if there are medical conditions that may make labour unsafe, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, placenta previa or infection. It may be utilised on the day to allow for safe delivery of your baby if labour has stalled, your baby is in distress or is presenting in a breech position. Operative techniques have advanced over time, resulting in shorter operating times, less blood loss, and reduced tissue trauma. Typically, the incision is made horizontally between the pelvic bones and below the belly button, right around your bikini line.
Post-operatively, there are the typical symptoms to any abdominal surgery, including incision site and suture pain, fatigue, a need to support the region when coughing or sneezing, and restrictions in lifting heavier weights. Additional considerations for CS include a lengthier post-natal recovery period when compared to vaginal deliveries, vaginal bleeding for several weeks, and the initial use of a catheter to assist the bladder in emptying completely.
Despite how common this procedure has become, it is important to remember that it remains a significant gynaecological surgery, and complications can still ensue. Potential obstacles can include scar healing complications, infection and pain. If the procedure was performed as an emergency, the resulting scar can carry a lot of trauma and emotion for mum. Few are aware that physiotherapists can assist in recovery and can restore a quality of life that was assumed to have been lost. Manual and scar tissue techniques, exercise-based rehabilitation and functional retraining are all part of a physiotherapists arsenal in restoring your ownership over your body.