Regardless of whether your c section was a planned or an emergency, your body goes through a lot of trauma to bring your baby in to the world. And then, once you creak yourself upright and prove that you can pee without the help of a catheter, you are on your way home, not just with surgery to recover from, but with a tiny baby to look after as well!
I was very lucky to have a very straightforward gentle caesarean, 24 hour discharge and relatively quick recovery period. I’d gleaned lots of tips from my research in the months leading up to my c section, from other mums, bloggers and doula colleagues, which I’m sure made a difference to how I felt in the weeks following. I thought I’d share my favourites with you here –
Getting up as soon as you are able post surgery
Walking around is the last thing you want to be doing after having a c section, but getting out of bed and gently mobilising once you’ve been given the all clear to do so, is the best thing you can do. It’s much worse trying to get up if you’ve been immobile for ages and then have to try and straighten and stand on stiff, sore muscles. Walking can also help you avoid blood clots, constipation and (ahem) can assist in ‘relieving’ the trapped wind that often occurs after surgery (having a baby is so glamorous huh?)
Now is not the time to be whipping out your pre pregnancy fancy pants! Between not wanting your pants to rub on your scar, and the massive maternity pads you have to don post birth, then big granny knickers are the way to go. I’m a 14 and opted for size 18 full briefs from Marks and Spencers/Primark and didn’t feel bad chucking them if they got ruined. It’s also worth making sure your leggings/trousers don’t sit too low/dig in to your tummy as well, to save any discomfort.
And by rest, I mean proper, in bed, not lifting a finger bar cuddling your baby, rest. Even if it’s your second baby, you must prioritise your rest time as much as possible. Pushing yourself too hard, too soon, will only result in a lot of pain and/or an infected scar, setting your recovery back weeks. As frustrating as it might be (for you, older children you may have and your husband, if he dares to let on), especially if you like to be up and active , taking every chance you can get to put your feet up will be really beneficial in the long term. You will be no use to anyone if you make yourself poorly from trying to do too much, so respect that fact that your body has been through a lot, and look after it.
Arnica and Probiotics
Some folk aren’t wholly convinced on homeopathy, but whether it worked or was purely placebo, I felt it helped. I took 200c pillules between my waters breaking and going through to theatre, and then for 48 hours after, before moving on to 30c pillules for another week. They are meant to aid the healing of tissue trauma and emotional shock, and I managed to bypass any sort of post c section bruising. I also took a probiotic in the lead up to, and after my c section. Knowing that I would get antibiotics as a precaution during surgery, taking a probiotic saved any sort of additional tummy upset from these.
Asking for and accepting help
Whether you book a cleaner, or rope in family members, don’t be shy in asking for help. If you have visitors, give them a job – they are no use to you if they just come and cuddle the baby while you wait on them! Even if they just hang a load of washing out, stack the dishwasher, or wipe down the surfaces after making YOU a cuppa, it all adds up. And then they can be rewarded with a baby cuddle while you enjoy a soak in the bath. Ask relatives to bring you food rather than flowers – and as lovely as cake is, nutritious meals that can be frozen to reheat later, or punnets of fresh fruit, will nourish you both inside and out!
Look after your scar
Your c section wound isn’t something to be scared of. You’re ok to have a bath after a c section, and it’s absolutely fine to wash your scar (gently) in the shower. Just make sure to dry it properly afterwards (use a nice soft towel) and some mums like to stick a maternity pad horizontally in to their granny knickers to sit against the scar. This gives it a bit of a cushion, absorbs any moisture, and can be changed regularly to prevent infection. It’s also handy to push against if you need to cough or sneeze – you will definitely want to ‘brace’ a little when you do so in the first few weeks!
Skin to skin can be facilitated in theatre, which is really beneficial to getting your breastfeeding journey off to the best start – don’t be afraid to request it. Some mums may find that the traditional cradle carry position for holding a baby whilst breastfeeding can be painful after a c section, especially if you have had a bigger baby. In this instance, find out about different feeding positions before you leave the hospital, or use a feeding pillow to help support the weight of your baby. Occassionally, your milk can take a day or two longer to come in after a c section, so having the appropriate support in place beforehand can be really reassuring when you are getting to grips with it all! (if you’re local to Aberdeen, check out this group).
What would you add to the list? Was there anything that really helped you after your c section? Pop me a comment and let other mums know what could help them too.