Tips on how Recover From a C-Section

I am a mom of 5 and have experienced 5 natural births.
This is why I didn’t feel it would be right for me to just put together a post full of information.
My friend Raz from Wholesome Inside is a 4 time C section recovery mom!!
So, if anyone can guide you on how to recover after having a Cesarean delivery its definitely her.

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Top C section Recovery tips that only a 4 time C section mom can share!

I am a four-time C-section mom and proud of it. It wasn’t the type of birth I had pictured for myself or my partner when we were planning for our unmedicated water birth but I’ve actually grown fond of the memories because it’s how my babies have entered the world.

I’ve picked up quite a few tips and tricks on the way to make c-section recovery that little bit easier and smoother.

Here is my honest account of everything I did to ensure a speedy recovery after my C section.

My C-Sections

All 4 of the surgeries weren’t planned.
My first baby was breech and no matter what we tried, wouldn’t turn no matter what.
Then, my second baby was huge and we decided to move across the country when I was 34 weeks.
Later, my third baby got stuck through the birthing canal, which was really painful, but I knew what to expect when they took me down for emergency C-section, and finally, with my 4th the doctors said it had to be a C-Section as well.

I Was Not Prepared

I was totally unprepared on my first c-section, but then I guess I would’ve been unprepared no matter which route it went down because it was my first baby, ever!
Honestly, I thought I was going to show up already in labor and just be told what to do.
In fact, I wasn’t even sure what the intensity of contractions was going to be like.

Things I wish I have known before my C-Section

Of course, in some part of the whole thing, they told me what to do and what was expected to happen, but there are just a few things I wish I knew beforehand.
So, I thought I’d share the things I’ve learned so you aren’t as unprepared as I was.

You might be nauseated

Due to the different types of drugs coursing through your body, you may feel sick to your stomach during the procedure and directly after too.
Don’t make the same mistake of keeping it to yourself because you want to be a good fellow.
It’s ridiculous. If you feel sick, tell someone. They’ll prescribe you with some anti-sickness medication.

COMMUNICATION

With my subsequent babies, I knew to speak to the anesthesiologist beforehand to prevent feeling sick. All I said was that I felt sick during my first surgery and he was very reassuring that he wouldn’t let it happen again.
As soon as I felt nauseous, I told him and he sorted it straight away.

The epidural is going to suck, but it’ll be okay

There’s no getting out of it, it’s as simple as that. You need to do it or you’ll feel every single thing and that’s definitely worse.
The anesthetist will ask you to bend over when they inject you.
At this point I would use the breathing techniques that yu learnt in your birthing class and breathe through it.

Ive been through it 4 times and can tell you hand on heart that keeping calm and breathing really helps!

In The Blink Of An Eye, You’ll Be Fine

I would rather encourage you to stay focused on the end result.
It is such a brief moment that you’ll forget about very quickly. You’re such a strong person and having this thing over with is getting you one step closer to meeting your baby.
If you are feeling really anxious about this, speak to your doctor and nurse, they’ll help and reassure you.

You’ll feel some pressure

The pressure will be on your abdomen and maybe even slightly on your chest. It isn’t anything to worry about, your doctors will be working hard to ensure your baby enters the world safety.

Pain Tolerance Is Different For Everyone

Everyone is different, but it is more than likely it won’t hurt. If you have a breech baby, you might feel the pressure a lot more, I did with my first more than my other two.
I was chatting away to my husband at the time of the birth of our babies. It was such a shock!
I hadn’t felt anything at all.

When someone gives birth naturally, you learn all of the techniques to get you through that moment. Whether it be using the power of your mind to breathe through contractions, or finding a focal point.

C-section is no different

It’s always best to find something to concentrate on and calm your mind because some parts of the procedure are uncomfortable and weird.

I was laughing through every 4 of my C-sections, I had some crazy conversations with the nurses, doctors, and anesthesiologist.
When my partner was allowed to join us in the room, he did a very good job of keeping me grounded and distracted from the fact my belly was being cut open behind the blue curtain.

You can take pictures

Pictures are usually encouraged, and I took advantage of this in every single one of my labors.
I had the camera set on the best settings every time and I even showed my partner how to use it.
You might be unsure of your hospital’s policy in regards to this, well, if you are, just ask! 
Those photos are one of my most treasured possessions.

You can bond with your baby right away

It may depend on your hospital’s policy but where I gave birth, they were really open to me getting skin-on-skin contact as soon as possible.
A nurse helped me to breastfeed for the first time, and even while I was being stitched up, I was able to have my babies on my chest every time.

You’ll Be Looked After

The nurses are always right there to make sure everything goes smoothly, especially because it isn’t the greatest angle to hold your babies when you’re spread eagle on a table with everyone still in the room.
You won’t even care anyway; you’ll have your beautiful baby looking up at you.

You’ll have a catheter

This is another part you won’t feel either because your lower half will be numb from the C-section procedure.
You won’t be able to go walk to go to the bathroom for the first few hours, hence the catheter.
Don’t worry, you probably won’t even notice it.

Your face might itch

It is one of the most well-known side effects of a C-section and it is so strange. My face itched like crazy after every single one of my C-sections and I still managed to forget about it until it happened.
If I ever have another C-section, or know anyone who will, I will definitely let them know to tell the nurses before the surgery begins.
Communication is key and they can add something to you IV to relieve the itching sensation.

Know your options with Pain Medication

When you’re having your first C-section, you’re more than likely going to accept everything they have to offer.
That’s mainly because either you don’t know what’s available or best for you, or you’re worried that you’re going to feel pain.

Get Informed!

On my second and third C-section, I was offered Motrin and I took it. That alone managed my pain just fine. It is really essential to stay on top of your pain medication because it will help you stay content while caring for your new-born.

You’ll be able to come to a decision of pain medication with your doctors and nurses so you know your options.

I set an alarm and took my medication before the pain struck. I really kept on top of it and I believe this really helped with pain relief

Your feet, face, hands, and legs might swell

As a result of your pregnancy, you might have already experienced it, but it doesn’t seem fair that you have to experience all over it again after delivery.
All that’s happening is your kidneys kicking back into action and there’s nothing to worry about.

C-section Recovery Tips

Move around

As soon as you get the ok from the doctors and your catheter is removed, walk around your hospital room. I always walked to the bathroom and had a shower as soon as I was able to. It helped with freshening me up, making me feel cleaner and I wanted to get my energy back.

Take A Breather

Now, this isn’t for everyone, but even getting up to do your make-up and hair can make a huge difference.
It just feels good to not be poked and prodded every (what felt like) a few minutes and to be human again.

You can even do some (slow) laps up and down the corridor and you can take a visitor or you partner with you.
Walking increases your circulation and helps to “get things moving” in the digestion department, which is good after a C-section.

Gradually Increase How Much You’re Moving Around

You can slowly increase the amount of walking you’re doing every day, even when you get home from the hospital. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air, weather-permitting, or do some laps around the house or in the garden.

Walking is also the best way to lose weight after your C-section.

Drink lots of water

I always think that water fixes any ailment. Whether you’re tired, sick, have a toothache, you should drink more water.

You should definitely drink as much water as you can handle after your C-section for 3 reasons:

One

Any drugs and medication will be flushed out of your system, and help you get rid of all of the fluid you’re retaining.

Two

It will help towards combatting constipation.

Three

If you’re planning to breastfeed, it will help establish your milk supply.

Pay close attention to your nutrition

Food is fuel for the body. The same way that petrol or diesel is fuel for the car. When a car’s tank is running low, it stops working and the body works the same way with food. You also have to ensure you put the right oil in a car for it to run.

I got my quick recovery from my C-sections by my excellent nutrition during and after pregnancy.

Superfood For Supermom

Usually, I would drink a superfood shake every day to ensure that my body was getting the right amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals I needed to grow a baby.

I added fiber and collagen supplements to help my tissues heal.

Focus on foods such as fruit and veg, lean meats, nuts, eggs, and vitamin C as soon as you get the go-ahead after surgery.

Get up in the right way

Try not to use your abs to lift your body up, instead, roll over onto your side and push yourself up with your arms. It might seem like a small thing but it’s definitely something to pay attention to. Your abdominal muscles and incision are healing, give them time.

Use a belly binder

I only used a belly binder after my 3rd C-section and it made such a difference.
Although I know you should be strengthening your own ab muscles but these are really good to turn to for a second option.

Use One! But Decrease The Wear-time Before Completely Stopping

I would wear it for the majority of the day for the first 6 weeks and then I decreased it to a couple of hours a day after that.
Your incision will be protected and it will be easier for you to do everyday tasks without feeling like your insides are about to fall out.

Don’t overdo it

This is probably the most important advice of all, and even though it contradicts my point of walking a lot.
Although, the best thing you can do is to listen to your body and if you’re not ready to do something, don’t.

We hadn’t long moved into a new home when I had my second C-section, so I felt really good.

But I Was Not In Shape (Yet)

There was a point when I wanted to go to Walmart to do some new house items shopping (which is one of my favorite things) and I found something that I really liked which was one sale.
It was on the top shelf and instead of asking someone to help, I grabbed it myself and put it into the cart.

It Did Hurt

I was in pain for the next few days after that and I was so worried that I’d caused damage to my incision that I had to monitor it for a few days after.

Listen To The Pro’s Advice

It might be really tempting to clean the entire house and return to a normal life when you get home from the hospital, especially because you feel as if you’ve not done it for ages and it feels dirty.

But listen to your doctors and use the time to relax and rest instead. You’ll thank yourself afterward.
Try to always accept the help from other people and give your body that extra chance to heal.

Football hold when nursing

The football hold is the best to use just after the C-section.
It is the most comfortable position that doesn’t put any pressure on your abdomen or incision.
You can tuck the baby beside you if you have a suitable nursing pillow. The brestfriend one is the one that I used with all 4 of my babies.

Air pockets

I’m actually not entirely sure whether this is linked to constipation or the surgery but it only happened to me after my second C-section.

It is known to be a common complaint after the surgery but a little bit of Gas-X should help I took both Gas-X and a stool softener to help the pain after surgery.

Caring for your incision

I used to hate this part because I always thought I was causing more damage than good but it’s vital in your recovery of a C-section.
It’s the same as any cut, you should ensure that you keep it clean to prevent infection.

Your nurses will give you much better advice than I can on this point but something that worked for me was to bring an extra washcloth into the shower with me which was used specifically for cleaning my incision.
I would let soapy water wash over my scar and then I would pat it gently with the soapy washcloth.

I also used Melrose essential oil and Earth Mamas skin and scar balm to help heal after I had the ok from my doctor.

Keep Your Incision DRY

Please remember to pat it completely dry with a clean towel afterward and keep it covered. I used a pad over the incision site for the first few days and compression also felt really good so I would wear my belly band over it.

When you get the ok from your OB at your 6-week check-up, you can start using Earth Mama Organic Skin and Scar Balm and Vitamin E oil.

Let Others Help

This was definitely the hardest part.
Mainly because of my pride and the fact that I like to do everything myself.
I’ve always been really independent so even when I’ve been struggling and known it, when people offer support, I usually politely turn them down.

I Regret It Now

Instead? I wish I would just put all my pride to one side and accept every single bit of help I was offered. I knew that people wouldn’t think that I was a bad mom just because I needed or wanted help and that was hard for me to accept.

Not everyone has the same support, but if someone does offer it, it’s not the time to feel bad for taking them up on it. They wouldn’t offer if they didn’t WANT to help. Even if this means you taking a nap while someone just keeps an eye on the baby.

Give it time

It will feel as if it goes on forever.
The recovery after C-section can be a long process. You feel gross, exhausted, leaky and sore.
Probably you just want your “normal” life to restore and you’re just looking forward to having your body and boobs back.
Worst of all, you just wish you were able to pick your other children up.

In just a year time after your C-section, life will be so much easier.
You’ll be able to leave the house by yourself for hours at a time (if a friend or family member is available to watch the baby).

Slowly, Everything Will Go Back To Normal

Be patient and soon you’ll be lifting your children, driving yourself, exercising and vacuuming.
You’ll fit into your old clothes again and wear a normal bra instead of a nursing one.

It’ll Be Difficult But It’s Worth It

It might be tough, and all you’ll want is for your recovery to speed up, but it will pass and soon enough it’ll all be a distant memory and you’ll feel nostalgic for those newborn days.

Once you’re at that year, you’ll be thankful for everything and everyone, but one thing that might play on your mind a lot is your C-section scar. It might be red in color, to begin with, but the same as any other scar, it will turn white over time.

How big will your C-section scar be?

Your scar will sit just where your bikini line is, just at the bottom of your abdomen and will be around 10-12cm long. You will most likely have a classical incision, which is a vertical cut going down from your belly button.
Although it’s very rare you might have an inverted T shape scar, which is where they have to cut horizontal and then vertical.

What sort of stitches are used and how are they removed?

Dissolvable stitches are used in most cases, inside and out. So, in this case, there is no worry about them being removed.
Another type of stitch is called prolene with beads, which is where they use dissolvable stitches inside and a running stitch along the skin which will leave a plastic bead at either end of the scar.

When Will It Be Removed?

The stitch will be removed around day 5 by cutting one of the beads and the nurse pulling the other side to take the stitch out.
They come out very easily so it definitely sounds worse than what it is.

What can be used to help heal my C-section scar?

It will heal naturally if It’s cleaned properly, but if you did want to use something then you can use Vitamin E cream or oil, silicone gel, silicone sheets, turmeric, fusidic acid cream or ointment, hypericum performatum, honey, lavender, aloe vera gel or arnica gel or tablets.
They all have the same effect, helping with bruising and to relieve any pain.

My absolute favorites are Earth Mamas Organic skin and scar balm and Melrose essential oil diluted in coconut oil. I had the ok from my doctor before using these products with every delivery. Make sure you run it past your doctor before trying something new.

More C-section information:

Breastfeeding

A lot of moms wonder how long they have to wait to breastfeed if they’ve had a C-section.
The best time to start is as soon as possible. If you’ve had epidural or spinal anesthesia, then you might be able to breastfeed straight away. Although, if you have been put under general anesthesia, your recovery will take longer.

RELATED Hands Down The Best Online Breastfeeding Class Ever

Menstrual Cycle

If you’ve had a C-section and are worried about when your periods will return, a C-section has no effect on how quickly your period will return to normal. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not will be the only thing to determine when you’ll get your period. If you’re not nursing, your period will return in about 6-8 weeks after delivery.

Getting Intimate Again

Once you’ve given birth, you seem to have fallen even more in love with your partner.

You’ve both brought this beautiful bundle of joy into the world and you want to run straight to bed.
The truth is, it’s best to wait about 6 weeks before having sex again. Once you’ve had your 6-week check-up and your nurse has given the go-ahead, nothing will stop you.

Getting Back Behind The Wheel

As much as you want your life to return to normal, and that means getting behind the wheel again, you need to ask your doctor for the advice on how long you have to wait.
Six weeks is around the most suitable time to wait.

Hospital Recovery

Recovery in the hospital can be long-winded, especially when the average time in hospital is 3-4 days.
All you want to do is be in your own home, surrounded by the things you love the most, but you might be able to go home sooner if both you and your baby are well.

Take Care Of Your Scar!

You shouldn’t go swimming or soak in a bath or hot tub for at least 3 weeks after the surgery.
If you’ve had stitches, glue or staples used in your C-section then you can remove your wound dressing to have a shower only.

Be Patient

Remember that it will only take around 8 weeks for you to be healed and it will all feel like a distant memory. You won’t remember the after-C-section pain or discomfort anymore and you can just enjoy your baby and partners company.

RELATED: How to recognize and overcome postpartum depression and anxiety

Resources

Overview: Caesarean section

What is a C-section?

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