Today is everything c-section related! Last week I went through navigating the 4thtrimester (from birth to 3 months postpartum) and how to start working your way back to CrossFit. How to start, what to do, and some other tips and tricks. If you missed it, I would recommend read that first as it will still apply even if you’ve had a c-section. Some information is included here, but not all. You can check that out here.

Since starting my postpartum blog series I’ve had so many mamas reach out for c-section specific help (I also had a c-section). This article was born from that and will be for you if you have had a c-section or know someone who has.

What is a C-Section?

A c-section, or cesarean birth, is a surgical procedure to deliver a baby through the abdomen instead of the vagina. Although this is considered to be a common procedure it is still surgery and should not be taken lightly. The video below shows the anatomy of how a c-section is performed. As you will see there are many layers that are cut through in order to deliver baby.

C-Section and Your Pelvic Floor

It’s common misconception that if you have a c-section, your pelvic floor will be unaffected. The truth is however, that your pelvic floor went under many changes during pregnancy and still needs some attention. I always recommend seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist after birth regardless of the type of birth you have. For me personally, I had a c-section and still experienced incontinence after giving birth. Having a c-section does not guarantee you won’t experience pelvic floor dysfunction or need to see a pelvic floor PT (everyone should!).

Tips For the First Six Weeks

Accept the Help: As someone who has a hard time accepting help and “likes” to do everything on my own, let me just say this: when people offer to help, LET THEM. After having a c-section you are not going to be able to drive for a bit, accept the rides. Doing laundry (which requires more bending and standing then you might realize) becomes a not so easy task: let someone throw a load in for you. If someone offers to bring food: say yes please! People are happy to help out how they can, accept the help and let them take some tasks off of your plate.

Taking the medications – Please don’t be a hero like I tried to be. I personally don’t like taking medication of any kind. I found myself trying to push out the hours that I needed to take my meds and I regretted it every time. Pain management is much easier done while taking them on the schedule that you are intended to, as opposed to waiting to feel the pain. If you wait for the pain, you’re also going to have to wait for the meds to kick in. It’s really not the best when you are in pain and trying to pick up, feed, and rock a newborn (speaking from experience!).

Coughing – Something that seems so natural all of a sudden became my enemy! Holding a pillow to the incision while you cough or sneeze is a life saver!

Getting out of bed – I recommend sticking with the third trimester “turtle” tactic for getting out of bed. Roll onto your side facing the end of the bed, start to put your feet down and use your arms to push up your upper body. This will lessen the impact on your core and help avoid any pain or strain.

Bending Down – So this might feel weird at first. You’re bending exactly where you had major surgery. Take it slow, breathe, and don’t push it if you have to. Remember #acceptthehelp.

Don’t try to go too fast, too soon – Even if you feel great! Watch the video above again to see how many layers are cut through to get to baby. All of that is very much healing, especially during the first 6-8 weeks. If you follow your med schedule, you may in fact be feeling great! Still take it slow though, and rest whenever possible…see below.

REST – Yes. I realize this is pretty ridiculous to say to a new mom. However, prioritize as much rest as you can – this is when the healing happens. Accept the help. Truly rest and sleep when baby sleeps. This is such an important time, but also really short chapter in the scheme of your lifetime. Prioritize rest, accept the help, and everything that can wait? Well, can wait.

Random – Those high waisted mesh panties from the hospital? Those are awesome. Take some with you when you leave. As are Depends underwear – seriously. You will still bleed a lot after birth and the depends were high waisted which felt great on the incision area, and i didn’t have to worry about changing pads.

Walking – Going for short walks is great for both you and baby (depending on the weather). Make sure you don’t over do it, I am talking short walks here. I started just walking to the end of the block and back, and working my up from there.

After Six Weeks

Making an appt with PFPT – I mentioned this above, but I recommend making an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist. You can visit my resources page to help you find one in your area.

Scar Massage and Desensitization: Scar massage is so important! It’s also something that many people do not know about. I was one of those people. My scar was extremely sensitive for about a year. Had I known about scar desensitization and massage, I may have felt a lot better a lot sooner.

Disclaimer: Always be cleared by a medical professional before starting scar massage.

Desensitization: If you are very early postpartum or find that anything touch the area around your scar bothers you like it did for me, work on desensitizing it before massaging. Gently introduce different textures to the area AROUND the scar first and as you get more comfortable work to touching the scar itself. You can use things like cotton balls, Q-tips, your fingers, small balls you can roll on the area, a (new) toothbrush, baby wipes, use your imagination here 🙂 Once you feel more comfortable with touch the area around and your scar you can move on to massage.

Here are two great videos by Lynn Schulte, PT about the why and how to massage your scar.

For more information on getting back to exercise check out last weeks post. That information is still very relevant if you’ve had a c-section. You will need to be more mindful with any movement that requires flexion/extension at the abdomen (kipping etc) as they might be more uncomfortable for longer than someone who has not had abdominal surgery. 

Home Workout Examples For Early Postpartum
Post C-Section

Here are two sample workouts to give you an idea of what back to basics can look like early postpartum (always wait to be cleared by your medical professional before returning to any exercise). These can be done throughout the day broken up, or all at once if you have a time block. Going back to the basics and building that strong foundation will carry over when you start to add in more dynamic movement.

Workout Example #1 – 3 Rounds done with intention and incorporating piston breathing/connecting to pelvic floor:

10 Piston breathes (breathe in, relax pelvic floor, breathe out, slightly contract TA and lift pelvic floor)
10 Glute Bridges
10 Supine Wall Slides
10 Single Arm Supine Floor Press (each arm)
10 Clamshells
10 Supine Shoulder Rotations

Workout Example #2

3-5 Rounds done with intention and incorporating piston breathing/connecting to pelvic floor:

10 Piston breaths
10 Seated Banded Rows
10 Banded Seated Abductions 
10 1-Arm KB or Carseat deadlifts 
10 Squats to a Box (or chair)

Getting Back to CrossFit

Think progressively.  I would recommend starting with the basics. Things like walking, glute bridges, clamshells, band pull aparts, squats to a box (or chair), and incorporating your breathing strategy into those movements. Think about working your way from basic movement to more dynamic movement.

Bodyweight movements first, progress to light weights, then heavier weights. Once you have done that you can add in more dynmic movement. Here’s an example for working up to cleans:

  • Squats to box
  • BW squat
  • Squat with light dumbbells
  • Squat with heavier dumbbells
  • Backsquat with barbell
  • Front squat
  • Hang power clean with barbell only, 
  • Power clean, 
  • Power clean + front squat
  • Clean. 

It may look like a lot on paper but this is a natural progression towards that dynamic movement. The other benefit to breaking down those complex movements is that you inevitably create a stronger foundation. Doing the clamshells, glute bridges, etc…all builds a stronger foundation. When you have an amazing foundation, you can build as much as you want on top of it (when the time comes  )


Head to my resources page if you need help locating a pelvic floor PT, great books I recommend on pregnancy and postpartum, and also some great courses I recommend.

If you’d like a more individualized approach, to chat more about your story, what your plan going forward should be, and if we are a good fit to work together schedule your free 15 minute consult call here. If you’re ready to dig into your specific concerns and strategy book a 1-hour strategy session here!

Follow me on social media for more: Facebook, and Instagram.

Want some ideas on what to substitute movements for? I have created this free resource for YOU! If you are pregnant, postpartum, or have pelvic floor considerations and want the confusion taken out of how to modify the most commonly asked about CrossFit movements, you need this.

I go through what, when, how, and also provide video demonstrations for modifications of the following movements:

– Sit-ups
– Burpees
– Pull-ups
– Toes-to-bar
– Muscle-ups

Sign up here to receive the FREE guide to your inbox!

Stay strong, stay beautiful!

Coach Kerri

(401) 680-0330