A woman is never really prepared for a c-section even though there is always the unknown of what direction your birth will take. When one doesn’t really prepare for it, that affects the knowledge you have for aiding recovery.
I had 2 unplanned emergency c-sections after 20-40 hours of labor. My first c-section recovery was the hardest out of the two. I was trying to be a superwoman and manage my pain, I was depressed about the fact that I ended up with a c-section and my body couldn’t do what it was meant to do (i.e. birth a baby), and since it was my first child, I was adjusting whilst recovering and dealing with colic and painful breastfeeding. The other situational factors postpartum can make or break your recovery from a c-section and it’s so important to keep in mind the things you can do to aid recovery.
Based on my postpartum experiences with both my surgeries I wanted to write this post so that women know what to do, what to expect and don’t need to beat themselves up.
Use a C-Section PostPartum Girdle
Now I know there are so many of these on the market. However, buying the right one for your body will help you recover faster and help you feel better when moving around the house. Because of the nature of a c-section and how low the incision is and how bloated your tummy can feel it feels like your insides are coming out every time you need to use those muscles. I purchased a C-Panty which I highly recommend because it is a high waisted panty. With an incision so low, and with our bellies being so bloated after surgery we get a hang. That hang put pressure on my scar and made it hurt more. That’s why I couldn’t use a normal “girdle wrap” and needed something to lift up that hang. Honestly, this girdle was the only reason I was able to get in and out of bed, sit/stand, and laugh without excruciating pain. It also helped compress my belly and worked the same way a normal girdle does and made me feel comfortable. C-Panty also has a medical-grade silicone panel that minimizes scarring, helps reduce itchiness and redness, and protects the delicate incision area. The silicone is durable, washable, and integrated into the c-panty, so you don’t have to hassle with scar gel or scar gel pads. Bellefit has a comparable version of this which is a little more expensive and from what I hear has more compression. You can check that out here.
Take the Medication
Typically due to the nature of the surgery, we are given strong painkillers to take every 4-6 hours. I remember if I didn’t take my meds on time and even only like 10-15 mins would pass the 4 hours, for example, I could feel the pain come back. The day I got home from the hospital after my first c-section, I remember having a complete breakdown while my husband ran out to grab the medication since it wasn’t ready when we were on our way home. I had my in-laws and my mother over and they heard me in the bathroom and got so worried and thought I had maybe collapsed. They helped me out of the bathroom and put me into bed to rest while I waited for the painkillers. Don’t feel like you need to try to space it out longer and make things worse for yourself. As long as you feel you need the painkillers, take them. I think I took them for about 10-14 days and after that, I took it as and when I needed it and I was able to manage my pain. I also made sure to get constipation and gas meds and if you are able to get a suppository in the hospital that would help too. This will enable you to use the bathroom normally by the time you are out of the hospital. I suffered after my first c-section because I didn’t know and so I made sure to request it after surgery and I was using the bathroom normally once I got home.
Movement is really important after surgery to help reduce the gas build up in your abdomen. Walking also helps you with the pain and get your body back in motion after days in the bed at the hospital. I was advised to walk even in the hospital around the ward to help get the blood flow going in my legs.
Take time to Bond with your baby
With most Unplanned/Emergency C-Sections, it is almost impossible to get that first moment and bonding experience as soon as the baby is born. Due to being in a surgery room, and also being drugged up it is really hard to breastfeed immediately or hold your baby immediately until you are taken to a recovery room where the baby is waiting for you. I made sure to ask for the baby NOT to be fed any formula until I could breastfeed them and also ask for time to have skin to skin once I was able to hold them after surgery. Any c-section mom will tell you it feels like you got robbed of that emotional high when you deliver your baby naturally and get to hold them and watch the umbilical cord being cut. It’s so sad that we end up feeling this way which most times makes many moms feel like a failure. As a mother who has gone through 2 C-sections I know how this felt, but I also want to assure moms that it is possible to bond with your baby even if it is an hour later, it is possible to feel that emotional connection, no matter how your baby was birthed. Please don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise and demand your rights from the time the surgery is over.
Organize a MealTrain or get help
Everyones situation is different and sometimes some women are able to have their moms or inlaws help them once the baby is born with cooking and just around the house. For me I luckily had my mother come down from Dubai to help me with my first, and she couldn’t make it with my second. My lovely friends organized a meal train because my mother wasn’t able to come the second time around and they brought meals to us every other day for 2 weeks. It was such a blessing. Don’t feel shy to ask your friends for help or hire help or get a postpartum Doula if finances are available.
Rest it Out
Last but not least, please rest. C-sections are no joke, and even though you feel like super mom, don’t push yourself because once you do, you risk either getting more pain, or an infection or even just more postpartum bleeding. I remember with my second (read my birth story here) I felt GREAT after a week and pushed myself to do the normal stuff, and even though my postpartum bleeding stopped around 3 weeks, I started getting heavy bleeding and really strong cramps and pain that was unbearable. The more I rested the better I felt, but you don’t want it to reach that point! Give your body time to heal and don’t go lifting heavy things, driving, or pushing yourself too much.
Stay away from Shame
Sadly people love to shame c-section mama’s by claiming we didn’t birth a baby, and we had the EASY way out. We DID NOT! If anything recovering from a c-section can be much more brutal than a normal birth. We are all warriors for going through these surgeries to bring our babies into this world. Even though it doesn’t feel like it, and sometimes you feel like a failure, let’s remind ourselves of what our body did, and what it sacrificed. That scar is a testament of your strength! Don’t let ANYONE bring you down or make you feel like you didn’t birth a baby just because you had a c-section. Definitely, work towards a VBAC next time around (provided you are aware of any risks, it is medically ok for you and your doctor approves) but don’t feel ashamed or let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s your body, your decision. Massive Virtual hug to all my c-section mamas!
I hope these tips were useful! If you have any questions about recovering from a c-section or concerns I would be happy to answer them based on my experiences. However, I am not a medical professional so it’s always good to get your doctors input.
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