Deep core activation while recovering from a cesarean birth

Yes! It is true! We welcomed our sweet baby girl to the world earlier this month and have been in awe of her ever since. I will post about our birth experience and more about her very soon. 

In the meantime, I have been asked multiple times in the past few weeks about my transverse abdominis (TVA) or deep core activation techqniques; how I used these techniques throughout my pregnancy and how I am re-introducing them to my daily routine as my body heals from our cesarean birth. To begin, I did not know about these techniques when I was pregnant with Brooke, our oldest daughter, who was born in April 2014. I had a great recovery after her delivery (also cesarean), as I was cleared to begin upper body exercise with slow integration of lower body exercise at 4 weeks postpartum and cleared to begin core work and running at 6 weeks postpartum. I felt great! That being said, my core already feels so much stronger than it did at 2 weeks postpartum with Brooke. I already feel like myself and have to be very careful to not overdo it each day, as I am feeling so great already!

One week postpartum
Two and a half weeks postpartum

Walk & stretch in the ravine
Although I am yearning for a sweaty workout, I know my body is not quite ready for that yet. After all, a cesarean section is major surgery and we must remember that when healing from one. I am finding myself able to walk a little farther each time we head out and my pace has been steadily increasing. I have alternated between wearing our newest addition in the ErgoBaby Carrier and pushing her in the stroller. Both have been great to focus on my posture and engage my core as I walk. This past week, I have made a solid effort to do a full body stretch each morning, with a little foam rolling as I can tolerate it, and also integrate deep core work. 

My Morning Routine

Morning stretch with my Littles

  • Downward facing dog
  • Kneeling lunge stretch (some mornings this tugs on my incision, so I gently back out and skip it) - right
  • Downward facing dog
  • Kneeling lunge stretch - left
  • Downward facing dog
  • Pigeon pose - right
  • Downward facing dog
  • Pigeon pose - left 
  • Butterfly stretch
  • Firelog (stacked shins while seated) - right
  • Firelog - left
  • Various upper body stretches

Then, I come into a comfortable seated position, either crossed legged or kneeling

TVA activation

  • Belly breathing x 5 | sitting tall, as you inhale allow the belly to relax. exhale and gently pull the belly in towards the spine. repeat.  I do have a video on this technique posted on my Instagram account @kellie.fityourlife
  • Kegels x 5 | with breath. inhale as you relax the pelvic floor down towards your mat. exhale as you progressively squeeze the pelvic floor as "high" as you can without tightening the glutes. repeat.
  • Belly breathing + kegels x 10 | combine your belly breaths with kegels while continuing to focus on breath. 
  • Cat cow x 5-10 | come onto all fours with a neutral spine. hands under shoulders and knees under hips. inhale as you look towards the sky at the same time as you curl your tailbone upwards. your belly will drop down. move slowly, as you don't want to pull your healing c-section incision. exhale as you round your spine towards the sky and draw your belly inwards bringing your chest and thighs closer together under your body. continue to round with breath. 
  • Supine TVA activation x 10 | lay on your back with knees bent and feet resting on the floor. place your hands either under the small of your back (where it will naturally round away from your mat) or on your belly. inhale to relax your core. exhale to press the small of your back into the mat. hold for one full breath. on the next inhale relax. repeat. 

Remember to continue to listen to your body. Every body will heal differently and at it's own pace. How these techniques feel in your body can also be affected by how you engaged your TVA during your pregnancy, the type of labour you experienced, and your surgery. Take each day as it comes, as some will be easier than others. If you experience increased vaginal bleeding, please take a rest day or two before trying again. If you experience any increased pain, swelling, oozing, or bleeding from your incision, please take a rest day and contact your obstetrician's office if these symptoms worsen or persist. 

Enjoy these special moments with your family, I know I am!!