What to know about c-section recovery
Are you having a c-section and worried about what the recovery process will be like? Although giving birth, in general, isn’t always the most pleasant experience, knowing what to expect can be half the battle.
Even if you aren’t scheduled to have a c-section, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the process and to know the dos and don’ts after a C-section.
Why you ask?
Sometimes you can have the best written birth plan but your baby may not be on board with your plan. Instead of having the relaxed birth experience with the planned epidural or water birth, you could find yourself with a breeched baby or a failed induction that leads to an emergency, unplanned c-section. I’m not saying this to scare you, I just want you to be prepared so regardless of what type of delivery you end up having, your stress levels can remain low because you know what to expect.
Either way, with these C-Section recovery tips for first time moms, your recovery process will go a little smoother.
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Do’s and Don’ts After a C-section
Do: Take things slowly
When was the last time you had major surgery where they cut open your stomach and you were allowed to stay awake? If this is your first baby, probably never, right?
Well, that’s exactly what happens when you have a c-section and receive an epidural or spinal for anesthesia.
Because they are able to stay awake for the entire procedure and get to see their newborn baby, most new moms forget that a c-section is still major surgery.
Keep this in mind and remember taking care of yourself and healing properly is just as important, if not more, than tending to the new baby. Not only will it help you feel better, but it will also allow you to be up on your feet faster so you can love on that sweet baby.
You don’t want to come home and immediately start cleaning the house or fixing big meals. You also want to avoid activities that include a lot of bending, twisting, or turning.
These types of things can cause you more pain or even tear your stitches which is not something that you want. The only thing you want to be lifting is your new baby, nothing heavier.
Do: Use the pain medicine if you need it
During your c-section your pain will be managed by either an epidural or a spinal depending on if you labor or if your c-section is planned. Besides the local anesthetic that helps you not feel what’s happening and prevents you from moving the lower half of your body, your anesthesia provider may also use pain medicine as a part of your anesthesia.
But eventually, that will wear off. And remember, you did just have major surgery!
After a caesarian delivery, your doctor will prescribe you some pain medications to take as needed to help with the pain. After a procedure like this, pain is something you want to stay in front of and not try to play catch up with. I did not have pain medicine included in my spinal for my c-section (by choice) but once I got into the recovery room I asked for it because I was starting to feel pain.
The IV pain medicine did not interfere with me breastfeeding and it did take the pain away, almost immediately. The drawback was that it made me sleepy and there are hours after my daughter’s birth where I don’t remember a thing.
Don’t: Expect your nurse to offer you pain medicine
After that first dose of pain medicine, when I first arrived in the recovery room, I forgot to ask for anymore. My nurse never offered any pain meds to me and I was distracted by my baby having low blood sugar readings.
By the morning I thought someone was actively trying to kill me. I had never been in that much pain in my entire life. My doctor happened to be walking in the room just as I said “I’m dying” and he asked when was the last time I’d had pain medicine. I’d only had the one dose after my daughter was born and now more than 24 hours had passed since then.
I too forgot that I’d just had major surgery and I never considered that my nurse wouldn’t automatically ask me if I needed any. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bad mouthing my nurse. Pain medication after a c-section are ordered as needed. If you don’t ask for it, the nurse thinks you’re not in pain and don’t need it.
I say this to say if you need pain medicine, ask for it! Do not wait until the pain is so unbearable that you can’t function. You don’t want to be miserable and in so much pain that you can’t enjoy your new bundle of joy.
Remember this once you get home as well. You probably won’t have anyone asking if you need pain meds there either.
Do: Try to splint the pain from your incision when riding in a car, coughing, or sneezing.
Pillows for the car ride home can help ease the pain of bumps in the road. Holding a small pillow against your stomach as you are trying to get up can also help. Using a hospital pad or something soft over your incision can help keep your incision safe and avoid any tearing or extra pain.
Don’t: Turn down extra help
I know your parents and your in-laws are itching to meet their grandchild. Let them come!!!
Depending on how the surgery goes and how you feel, you may need some extra help with the house and baby for the next few weeks. You’re not going to come home and immediately be able to keep up with the household chores, dinners, and other strenuous activities so having that extra help will come in handy and can help you and your husband rest a little easier.
I know having your mother in law around is not the same as having your own mom. But, if you are offered help, do not turn it down! Accept the help and know that it is ok that you can’t do everything on your own just yet. This doesn’t mean you aren’t a great mom or that you’re incapable of caring for your child.
It is also important that you don’t overdo it and go easy on yourself. Getting in and out of the bed for middle of the night feedings can be challenging after a c-section (make sure to have one of these) so if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. It’s not worth reopening your incision.
Also, when you accept help, don’t be afraid to let people know exactly what it is you need. After all, they are there to help you. It could be feeding the baby so you can get some rest, a chance to take a shower, or help to get dinner prepared. Be specific.
Do: Take care of your incision & eat a healthy diet
After your c-section, you will want to make sure you are drinking enough water and following a healthy diet. You will also want to take a fiber supplement or stool softener to help avoid constipation.
Do: Listen to your body
Some people don’t need as much recovery time as others, but you still want to be prepared for the recovery time. Listen to your body and follow the recovery instructions that your provider gives you to avoid any preventable problems. If you have any questions at all, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to call your doctor.
Cesarean recovery tips
You’ve got this Momma! Go ahead a finish that the last walk-through to make sure you have all of baby’s must have nursery items, put your hospital bag and car seat in the car, and get ready for your c-section delivery.
The only thing left to check off your box is a breastfeeding class. Knowing the different positions to use for breastfeeding after a c-section is a game changer! You can thank me later!
You now know all of the things you should do and what to avoid to make your c-section recovery a breeze. Before you know it you’ll be holding your new baby and recovering from a c-section like a pro!