Training Women? They Hate This…C-Section ‘Overhang’ :-(

2 May

By Jenny Burrell BSc (Hons), Founder of Burrell Education, Specialist For Pregnancy and Post Natal Fitness & Therapy, London, UK.

www.burrelleducation.com

Ok, this is not a sexy, wow, bang, pop, post.  But it is important if you have anything to do with women who have had babies.  I don’t know it all but I’ve had a lot of experience of dealing with this question and maybe along this journey, if you follow this series of posts we will have started a started a conversation and a process of enquiry regarding a subject area that not many women are happy to discuss but are very troubled by – the dreaded C-Section ‘overhang’!!!!!!!!!  With nearly a quarter of the births in the UK occuring via C-Section and much more elsewhere, especially the USA (check out www.csectionrates.com) it’s a pretty big deal for a growing number of women.

Just a quick Google search of the term and a troll around various mom-centric sites shows that it is worrying, annoying and confusing for a lot of women.  There seems to be little information on WHAT CAUSES IT and HOW TO GET RID OF IT!  And indeed, lots of women also complain of the ‘overhang’ situation even after having a vaginal birth!  Indeed, apart from structural issues such as Diastasis – which is a whole different conversation, why do post baby women end up with bellies they are not pleased with?

In my experience, I think there are multiple factors at play here namely:

1.  Excess belly fat – due to pregnancy fat gain, increased cortisol during and after pregnancy, poor sleep and the stresses of early motherhood.
2.  Stretched skin – genetics, your age, your nutrition and your hydration are just a few factors that will affect the ability of your skin to ‘bouce back’ from a pregnancy.
3.  An imperfect post operative stitching technique – this I don’t know much about but I will research and report back.
4.  Scar tissue buildup – simple, there has been a wound, there will be scar tissue that need to be manipulated to avoid myofascial congestion and a loss of optimal function and transferrence of energy through the entire system – global and local.
5. Odema due to the C-Section wound being still in the healing phase – this is an ‘early-days’ issue which should resolve naturally.
6.  Numbness, loss of sensation and ‘connection’ to the lower abdominal area leading to frustration when performing abdominal work and the client therefore having poor adherence – it’s our job as fitness professionals to help the client have faith that she can return to a place where she will be happy again.
7.  Inappropriate core strength work being performed with no emphasis on the synergist relationship with the Pelvic Floor muscles, the other components of ‘the core’ and furthermore the WHOLE INTEGRATED SYSTEM!
8.  Poor nutrition and hydration that doesn’t assist and promote healing.
9.  Poor bowel movements that totally scupper any quest for a flat tummy!

So…..for what it’s worth for the whole month of May, I’m going to do a little experiment.  Over a 12 month period, I was lucky enough to experience C-Section not once but TWICE!  Without even a baby to show for it!  I had a condition known as uterine fibroids where benign tumors grow at warp speed attached to the uterus and you eventually have very messed up periods and a huge tummy (note to all – NEVER JUDGE A FAT BELLY!) could be something much more serious than love of cake :-).  Anyhow, to cut a long story short, these tumours were removed in January only to duplicate again at warp speed and by the following January I had no option other than to have an abdominal hysterectomy via C-Section AGAIN.  Incidentally, this might be pertinent information for those of you who train over 50 clients, this is usually part of their story (I’m only 42).

So, I’m 14 months out of the Hysterectomy and what am I left with?

1.  Bit of a fat belly, definitely not tight and flat – I still can’t wear my size 10 (UK)  jeans that I could wear before, I’m in 12’s and feel good.
2.  Post umbilical numbness – around70%
3.  A new ‘firmness’ local to the scar area that I think is due to a build-up of scar tissue

On a positive note, I feel fit and well and extremely grateful, (my fitness regime includes Kettlebell, Power Lifting, Running, Power Plate, I train with a Trainer and I still work as a Trainer and write/teach/run my courses and present).  My energy is awesome, my diet is good but still have a love/hate affair with sugar and I’m teetotal.  I’m on the up!

So,  for the entire month of May, I’m going to adhere to a regime that does everything possible to tackle all the components of healing regeneration, retrengthening and reconnection and see what happens.  I’m going to apply, bodywork principles, nutrition and exercise to my belly situation and see what occurs and I’ll check in once a week with the results (subscribe to be alerted).  It will be interesting to see the results and of course I’ll now go and do a before pic so we have a comparison.

My Self-Prescription

(This is not a recommendation to clients, I’ve been a Trainer for 13 years! If you are a client –  incase you’re wondering, yes, this is a lot of exercise – the running is extra to my normal routine).

1.  Get better sleep – Topical Magnesium Oil EVERY NIGHT before bed
2.  Chill more – Holosync on headphones daily and/or organic meditation
3.  1.5 – 2 litres of lemon water a day
4.  Train for 10K race Sunday 3rd June (2×20 min Interval Training and 1 longer Sunday run)
5.  3 Metabolic Resistance Training Sessions per week (2 x 20 mins plus 1 hour of PT)


7.  I’ll massage my whole abdomen for 10 mins daily using a combination of tradition massage.  I’ll use tradition strokes superficially but also go a little deeper.  This site has great information on C-Section recovery if you are interested – http://www.csectionrecovery.com, and I’ll also include some Instrument Assisted Massage (using an IAM tool (shown above) – www.iamtools.co.uk – thanks Malcolm).
8.  I’ll take 2 tablespoons of linseeds in warm water before bed nightly for phenomenal bowel transit.
9.  Oh and of course, continue my war on sugar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This might last longer than a month 🙂

Anyhow, that’s quite a lot to be getting on with.  I’m going to take my before pic now and workout!  Til next time.

PS I’d like to hear your experience, thoughts and suggestions on the matter if you too can add something to the conversation.  Speak soon.

For PASSIONATE, MODERN FORWARD-FACING CPD Fitness and Therapy Education for the Pregnant and Post Baby Fitness Professional visit:

www.burrelleducation.com

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2 Responses to “Training Women? They Hate This…C-Section ‘Overhang’ :-(”

  1. tinylanna May 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Really looking forward to this one Jenny ! Will be waiting with bated breath ..

    • phiphi64 May 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Hi I will be watching with great interest along with 4 other women in my group. I have lost a total of 29kg feeling great. But this apron of fat and skin is left from the removal of a 13lb fibroid (no pregnancy).

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