Shorter term reasons why your back hurts and what you can do about it
Some causes of back pain after c-section are more short term, they are issues that are temporary or that are more common in the first months postpartum.
The type of anaesthesia you receive before having a c-section could play a role. There is an epidural and spinal block, which one being used depends on the individual situation. An epidural takes longer to become effective and is injected into the surrounding areas of your spinal cord. Often for a c-section a spinal block is given, this is faster acting and is placed closer to the spinal cord. Back pain can be felt when the anaesthesia begins to wear off and an issue that can arise from anaesthesia is muscle spasms near the injection site.
What you can do to help: Speak up and be honest with your doctor, let them know your back is hurting and if there is anything that can be done to help. Fortunately this is temporary!
2. More restrictions when healing from c-section
We have already mentioned that a c-section is a major abdominal surgery! With any major surgery there are going to be more restrictions post surgery to help ensure your body is able to heal safely, c-sections are no different. Resting frequently, not lifting anything heavier than your baby, being gentle to ensure stitches or staples used on your incision are not bothered, all of this plus caring for a new little one leads to less movement. This inactivity can cause more back pain and aches than normal.
What you can do to help: Take slow short walks. You don’t need to be an olympic speed walker here! Set realistic goals, a starting goal could be to walk to the end of your driveway and back, gradually building to a walk around your block. Walking is amazing with many benefits, one is helping ease back pain.
Making sure your baby is well fed becomes a top priority, and that can often mean you are contouring your body into weird positions you didn’t know possible to get your babe to latch and eat! 👶 Once they are finally eating the fear of moving (no matter how uncomfortable you might be) is a very real thing! Hunching over to feed your baby and all the cirque du soleil worthy positions you can find yourself in are not so kind on the back and can be a big reason for back pain after c-section.
What you can do to help: Use support, and lots of it! Grab all the pillows around you and use them under your back, under your baby, under your arms, behind your shoulders. Support all the places that are supporting you feeding your baby. Get comfortable! Not only will you enjoy the bonding with your baby more, but your back will appreciate it as well!
PS. This applies to bottle feeding as well (fed is best!) – make sure that you are also comfortable and fully supported as you feed your baby, focus on the bond that comes from feeding and not the aches and pains that come from not being better supported!
4. The way you move
Bending over to pick up your baby, the car seat, the diaper bag (the list could go on!), carrying all the things (including your cute baby!), standing and rocking your baby, and all other daily movements impact, for better or worse, your back.
What you can do to help: When you are bending over make sure you are hinging from your hips, and not hunching and rounding forward, placing more strain on your back. Exhale and gently engage as you lift to help support your back and core better. When you are carrying your baby or any of the other countless items mamas carry, try to keep your weight distributed evenly between your hips (avoid sticking one hip out to the side!), this will lessen the load placed on your back.
When you are standing and rocking your baby or standing and holding anything, check in with yourself and make sure you are not arching your back, or having your ribs lifted up (this places more strain on your lower back). Keep your ribs down and your back in neutral position – this will keep pressure off your back! Also important is to take into consideration that all your joints and ligaments will be looser postpartum due to hormones, so moving with care is important, try to avoid sudden or jerky movements.
Longer term reasons why your back hurts and what you can do about it
Other reasons for your back pain after c-section are more long term issues, and when not addressed properly, could keep that back pain around for much longer than you want (or should have!) to deal with 👎🏾
Mind to body disconnect is something that so many women deal with postpartum. Remember all the layers a c-section goes through? Layers of skin, muscle, nerves – not to mention prior to the actual birth was 9 months of your body being focused on growing your baby. There is a lot your body has been doing and has been focused on – this often leads to a mental disconnect from these parts that have been focused on growing and birthing life.
What you can do to help: This is going to sound so simple…breathe. Yes, you heard me right! Slow, deep, connected breathing is a very powerful and positive re-connection tool. Close your eyes, turn inward and focus on connecting to your breathing. This is also something that you can do immediately postpartum, another bonus! Your spine is positively impacted by deep breathing, which in turn can help with back pains and aches.
2. Scar tissue
Fascia is an important structure in your body, it is a fibrous tissue that surrounds muscle. Normally fascia is smooth, allowing muscle and tissue to easily move. An incision, like the one created during a c-section, disrupts this fascia. This disruption can cause scar tissue adhesions to form, disrupting muscles and organs as well. These adhesions can cause many issues, one being back pain.
What you can do to help: Talk to your practitioner about scar tissue release – this gentle massaging can help break up scar tissue along the incision, helping with back pain and other issues caused by those adhesions. Even if it has been years since your c-section, scar tissue massage can have wonderful benefits!
3. Core weakness and instability
This one is so important! Your core is the foundation of your body. When there is core weakness and instability other parts of the body have to compensate and take the load that the core should be handling, but isn’t. The back is one of them and a main reason so many women suffer from postpartum back pain. 🙇♀️
What you can do to help: Start to rebuild your core strength safely. Learn how to properly recruit and engage your core and incorporate core strengthening exercises into your daily routine. This will not only help strengthen your core but also take strain off your back, reducing back pain!
The most important takeaway for you
Hopefully you have gained insight into what could be causing your back pain after c-section and what you can do to help. The most important takeaway is that there is so much that can be done to help address your back pain, it is not something you just have to live with and deal with 😀
You deserve to be pain free, to be able to enjoy motherhood and to be fully present in your life.
Don’t let back pain be the reason you can’t show up for yourself and your loved ones, and never let anyone tell you that back pain is just a result of pregnancy or birthing. That is simply not true, a back pain free life is possible.
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