Will it Take Me Longer to Recover from a C-section or Vaginal Birth?

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

As far as fitness goes, the type of birth you have can affect your return to fitness – but again, one is not necessarily better than the other in guaranteeing a quick return to fitness. There are considerations for and potential complications with each kind of birth that can affect your postpartum fitness. Today, we are going to look at some of those considerations:


1. Major Surgery – unlike a vaginal birth, having a c-section is considered a major surgery. I mean, think about it – you are having your belly cut all the way open to allow the baby to come out safely. You can’t perform most day-to-day functions on your own for the first couple of weeks and may not feel that you’re moving around normally for a month or more! Your core is involved in most movements that you are performing throughout the day, so, giving your c-section incision time to heal properly is critical. 

2. Scar Tissue – just as with any major surgery, you are going to end up with a pretty serious scar post-c-section. And with any scar, comes scar tissue, which can build up and limit movement. Make sure that once your incision has healed completely, that you take time to do some c-section scar massage to mobilize and help break up some of that scar tissue.

Vaginal Birth

1. Tearing – with any vaginal birth there is the risk of tearing and/or having an episiotomy. Sometimes, when the baby is coming down the vaginal canal, there is not enough space created for them to come out and your perineum, the space between your vagina and anus will tear in order to make space for the baby. An episiotomy is when your birth professional cuts that perineum to create space. The cut is made in hopes that it will be less severe than any tear that might occur naturally. But, either way, you will have to be sewn up once you have delivered and can create some extra recovery time for you. 

2. Prolapse and Incontinence – these are two ‘hot button’ topics in the postpartum world. You are more likely to have issues with prolapse or incontinence if you have a vaginal birth as opposed to a c-section. This just has to do with the strain labor and delivery puts on your body, especially the muscles of and organs supported by the pelvic floor.  There can be varying degrees of severity for both prolapse and incontinence – or you may not have either if you deliver vaginally. Every woman and every birth experience is different. 

As you can see, there’s not one type of delivery that’s better than the other – each has the potential for a long recovery time depending on your experience, and that’s ok! It takes you 9 months to grow that baby, so you can’t expect your body to recover from that in just a few weeks or even a few months! Time and proper scaling of movement and exercise is the proper way to approach postpartum return to fitness, no matter how you delivered.

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