Whether you actively chose to have a c-section or it was an unintended part of your baby’s arrival, there are lots of positive things that you can do to aid your recovery.
- general anaesthetic (if you had one) can make you shake.
- take the pain relief, as needed. It’s prescribed for a good reason and will aid your recovery. Beware that any antibiotics given in theatre (which you almost certainly will have had) will have wiped out all of the bacteria in your gut, so consider taking a quality probiotic (like Proven) to help replenish them.
- get as much air to the wound as possible & keep it dry. Arnica tablets are good for reducing soreness and bruising.
- as daft as it sounds, get as much sleep as you can whenever you can & take advantage of any support around you. Your body is trying to heal and you need to help it.
- when coughing / sneezing / laughing / going for a poo support your wound with your hands or a pad and lean forwards.
- when getting out of bed, roll on to your side, bring your hand across to the edge of the bed and grip for support, drop both legs over the edge of the bed, use your elbow and hands to push yourself up to sitting, once sitting take your time to get up. Reverse it to get into bed. The usual sit up / crunch really won’t work!
- Bridget Jones pants are absolutely essential! They need to come at least a couple of cm above your scar & belly button, be at least two sizes bigger than you’d normally wear & ideally be 100% cotton. Anything remotely fitted or tight on a swollen stomach or touching your scar will drive you mad!
- as and when you get back to exercising you might want to have a look at EVB support shorts too.
- get your other half to have a bit of a look at your bedroom & living room. Will little one be close so you can limit movement in bed/on the sofa when needed & not struggle trying to reach a crying baby? Is your bed high (a step might help) or low (where something to hold onto whilst you lower yourself onto it might help)? Have you got a big bedside/coffee table (or something you can temporarily put there), so that drinks, snacks, phone, painkillers, bottles (if you’re using them), muslin, etc. are all within easy reach?
- milk production might take a little longer post c-section (as might finding a comfy position) so get support if you need it with feeding. Try not to hunch over feeding the baby though…ideally you want to be sat straight so your muscles start to reconnect with good posture.
- lots of women experience emotional challenges after c-sections & if they have difficult birth experiences (some men too). Whilst it might all be fine, be open to talking through what happened and having it all straight in your heads, so you’re not grappling with extra emotions when you’re already tired & emotional. And with someone independent if that’s better for you. Get in touch with your midwife or health visitor to discuss a birth debrief, however long after the birth you feel ready to do it.
- your body will be deficient in most everything post birth regardless of baby’s exit route, but a c-section means the body needs to do more healing (it takes a minimum of 12 months for tissue to fully remodel), so good wholesome food & lots of water is really important to your recovery. Get guests to bring real food with them that’s high in anti-inflammatories & protein & keep taking pregnancy vitamins afterwards. They’re just as important now as they were when you were pregnant.
- Pregnancy hormones & painkillers (& particularly iron tablets which you’re likely to get post any surgery) tend to lead to constipation & no-one wants to strain against a new scar! Lots of water & fibre rich foods will help and holding a pad against your scar can help with pressure.
- all processes in the body are sped up by “exercise”, so start walking (with help if needs be) as soon as you’re able, but don’t overdo it.
- pelvic organ dysfunction, incontinence, scar pain, poor sensation and a sense of restriction are often due to the build up of post-surgical adhesions. Massage (once the scar is healed on a superficial level) can really help with longer term healing & reducing the chance of adhesive scarring. Rosehip oil is good for scars too once it’s healed a bit.
- really focus on your breathing and reconnecting to your core. Have a look at the link for a reminder of what should be happening and how this should link to pelvic floor movement. Getting this commection right is really important and something that you can do straightaway. Whilst baby may have come out of the “sunroof”, they still sat on your pelvic floor for 9 months!
- get your GP to refer you to a women’s health physio if anything doesn’t feel right as you recover. Things sometimes don’t but most challenges can be rectified with the right knowledge and support. I highly recommend the Mummy MOT practitioners.
I hope that helps, but please do get in touch if you have any questions. Or indeed if you have any experience to add to this.
(You might also find this blog of interest: “what people don’t tell you about birth & postnatal recovery”)