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An estimated 50,000 women undergo a cesarean section each year in the United States because of medical necessity. But for those tougher cases where surgery was not necessary and the mother’s uterus has been helping to naturally push the baby out of the womb, recovering from a C-section can be more difficult than other birth methods. This is because the surgical trauma incurred by a C-section releases an increased amount of stress hormones that can lead to back pain and pelvic pain.

Causes of back pain after a C-section

Hormonal changes

Back pain after a C-section is caused by hormonal changes in the mother’s body. It starts during pregnancy and can continue for up to six months after birth. The pain occurs because of the weight-bearing nature of the uterus, and the pregnant uterus changes in shape and size in response to hormones like progesterone and relaxin.

Weight gain

A woman had a cesarean section and gained weight, later experiencing back pain. There is a correlation between the two conditions. It is thought that excess weight can lead to increased pressure on bones and joints of the spine, which is exacerbated by the reduced mobility of pregnancy and postpartum periods. Additionally, excess weight can cause poor posture, making it more difficult to carry the weight of one’s body over time.

Carrying the New baby

A study found that carrying a new baby can increase back pain in women after a cesarean section. For the study, researchers recreated the effects of carrying a new baby while performing various tasks that we take for granted, such as bending over to pick up a pencil and taking out the trash. C-sections often leave patients with scar tissue and muscle weakness. The combination of these factors puts unneeded pressure on the back and can lead to pain following the surgery.

Breastfeeding

Women who have just given birth experience a lot of pain, and one of the ways they can alleviate it is by breastfeeding. Unfortunately, women who have recently had a C-Section can experience a lot of pain as well, which will worsen if they are not careful with their posture. When women push themselves to breastfeed for long periods of time, they may lean forward and use an unsupported arm because this gives them less pressure on the abdomen.

Effects of anesthesia

Many people experience pain in the back, stomach and legs after a C-section. It is likely that these pains are caused by the anesthesia and not by anything else. Many people also experience an increased number of contractions which may also be related to the anesthesia. The patient may also experience lower levels of oxygen in the blood as well as an increased heart rate due to the anesthesia.

How To Reduce Back Pain After C-section? 

Maintain a good posture

It is important to maintain a good posture to reduce back pain after c-section. It is also important not to perform too much activity too quickly, as this will cause discomfort. If you are experiencing back pain after giving birth, it is wise to limit activities to avoid overuse. Sitting up straight and walking with slow stride can help alleviate pain, but if the pain persists or worsens, talk with your doctor.

Do gentle exercises

After doctor suggest you that you are able to do some exercise, you can start with simple, easy exercises, like Pilates or yoga. These exercises target your abdominal area and release muscle tension in your back along with improving blood circulation. Act on this recommendation and go for a short walk later on to help ease inflammation and spasms in your back.

Keep your back straight while breastfeeding

Positioning yourself in the most suitable way to sleep may reduce back pain and also ease long-term discomfort. Finding a comfortable perch for feedings can make a big difference.

Take rest

Moving around too much might end up worsening your back pain. So avoid moving too much, especially if you feel pain. Give back a rest and allow your body to recover. Being excessively active might add to pain. Whenever possible, sleep as a way to rejuvenate your body. Taking care of a new baby often means you aren’t getting sufficient sleep, and that can decrease your health.

Take a hot bath

A warm bath may reduce muscle tension and muscle spasms in your back and may even increase blood circulation, thereby alleviating inflammation and back pain. When recovering from surgery, avoid taking a restroom until the healthcare provider gives you the go-ahead. If you don’t have time for a bathtub, stand in the shower and allow the hot water run down your back, or use a heating pad or moist heat compression.

Get a massage

Massages can help reduce tension, improve blood flow, and soothe muscle tension. Your partner may consent to getting a massage before or after you bring your child home, or you can ask a professional massage therapist to perform postpartum massages.

Pain medication

Additionally, talk to your doctor about safe medications to take, especially if you’re breastfeeding. It’s typically okay to take acetaminophen and ibuprofen while breastfeeding as long as you’re not exceeding the dosage limit as specified on the label.

When to see a doctor for back pain after a C-section?

After a C-section, if your back pain has worsened, non-specific to any other body part, and you are still experiencing pain after one week, you should see your doctor. These types of problems can be related to the healing process or long-term issues including scar tissue formation. Your doctor may need to prescribe a stronger medication for the pain you are experiencing. Using the therapy offered by the physical therapist can strengthen your muscles in the abdominal area or back and decrease the pain you feel.

Dr. Sapia Akter

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