C-Section Recovery All You Need To Know
Happy New Year Friends! After taking a much needed break from the online world I’m back. It was so nice to unplug and feel no pressure after having my son, I really just wanted to enjoy family time and not have to worry about posting. During my pregnancy I was writing my cookbook, creating videos and writing up blog posts. I had to put myself on maternity leave and give myself a break. I looked at it like a social detox of sorts. It feels good to be back however. I have so much to share with you and talk to you about and I felt starting off with writing on C-Section Recovery was a great place to start.
Everyone I know who’s had more than one c-section says they get easier. Well I can tell you that from my experience that is true. And this is why because? This one was scheduled so there were no labor pains and it was much less chaotic and less nerve wracking than when it’s an emergency c-section. Even though I was still a complete nervous wreck before hand because as with every pregnancy and delivery you just never know what to expect, I was highly surprised with how smoothly this one went. The recovery for me the second time around just feels like it’s taking me a bit longer but still so much easier and less stressful than the first time. My doctor told me I feel this way because it’s like getting beat up in the same spot twice. That just made so much sense to me. So whether you’re a new mom, having your 2nd baby, or are a veteran in motherhood this information and these tips will come in handy or you’ll be able to relate on so many levels.
Let me start by saying that if you have a c-section you are just as much a mother as someone who’s had a vaginal delivery. You are just as much a mother as someone who’s given birth in a pool, in nature, in a tree, or the freakin’ ocean. C-section deliveries are not easier and are in no way less scary. It’s a MAJOR surgery, one that you’re awake for at that. Someone who’s had vaginal delivery gets to go home the next day, a cesarean gets to go home in 3. For both my deliveries I spent 5 days in the hospital and I didn’t have complications or anything. Do not let anyone make you feel like you’re less than. Do not listen to instagrammers who swear everyone can have a natural birth. It’s just not true nor possible.
The First 5 Days
The day you’re scheduled or if you have an emergency C you can expect to have a catheter put in so you don’t have to worry about peeing for a day. You will be put on an IV and be prepped for surgery. The nurses then take you in to the OR (I actually walked into the OR for Oliver’s delivery) where you will be prepped for your spinal. You step up on this surgery table and face your nurse while the anesthesiologist numbs you up. This part for me is always frightening because you just never know what to expect. With my first c-section I went numb from the neck down and had a panic attack on the table because I couldn’t feel myself breathing. With the second one I only went numb in my mid section and I still felt my legs and feet which freaked me out at first because I thought I wasn’t numb enough. After I realized I was ok I felt a sense of security that I still had control over my feet and legs. It’s an odd sensation to be completely numb.
Surgery takes about 45 minutes. In the first 10 minutes the baby is out. There are always two doctors performing the surgery on you and there is a nurse stationed everywhere. Each nurse has one specific job to do, there is even one nurse just to count utensils used. After baby is out all you feel is a lot of pressure, pulling, and tugging but nothing hurts and you never feel any cutting. I think that’s what most people are afraid of is the possibility of feeling them cutting you open. Remember for most surgeries people are put to sleep but for a cesarean you’re wide awake. Creepy!
Once the doctors are done, you’re rolled back into the recovery area for about an hour and a half. The nurses keep a close eye on your health and if all is going well you will be able to breast feed your baby while in recovery. My little guy nursed for 55 minutes right after.
Expect to be nauseas. Expect to throw up. The biggest concern is thinking your incision is going to rip open but it won’t. You have the nurses there who know how to help you get it out. I threw up in the hat they make you wear while in surgery. You can tell the nurses or your doctor you’re feeling sick and they will give you something to make you feel better. You may also get a reaction to the medication like total itchiness around your belly or face. This is normal too as it’s just your body reacting to the medicines. It fades away after a few days.
After your time in recovery is up, they will take you to your own room where you will spend the rest of the time bonding with baby, having family and friends visit and where you’ll finally be able to eat or at least drink water. I wasn’t allowed to eat right away but water was amazing after surgery. Plus the catheter was still in so I was drinking away.
The catheter and IV come out 24 hours later. Right after surgery they put leg sleeves on you to keep the blood circulating to avoid blood clots. These stay on until you get out of bed and start walking around so anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. The morning after my surgery I asked the nurse to take them off and elevate my legs because I was super itchy and sweaty under them. They are so annoying but very very important.
You Will Still Have Your Period
You bleed right away after delivery just like a vaginal delivery would. Your uterus also has an incision in it which makes things extra sore and crampy. During the first 4-6 weeks your uterus will be contracting down to it’s normal size and you will bleed what is called lochia. Lochia is the vaginal discharge after giving birth containing blood, mucus, and uterine tissue. Lochia discharge typically continues for 4 to 6 weeks after childbirth, which is known as the postpartum period. It starts off heavy then tapers off to be super light but it varies person to person. After 9 to 10 months of crazy hormones and things shifting around to make room for the baby, it takes time for everything inside to go back to what will be it’s new normal.
I stocked up on the mesh undies from the hospital and their pads. I also found the brand the hospital uses on Amazon and ordered more when I ran out.
You Will Still Look Pregnant
Do not be hard on yourself. Your belly will not go down right away after birth. Even when you’re a month out it still won’t be all the way down. You have to keep in mind that surgery causes things to be swollen. No one is use to being cut open in their bikini line so things are puffy and sore. Have patience and take care of yourself. Try not to worry about what you look like and focus more on where you’re going. Remember what your body just did for you when you hear that baby laugh, cry, while you watch your little one eat, sleeps, etc. It’s a blessing and a miracle. You will be alright and your body will slowly recover on it’s own time. For the time being just embrace it.
When I went for my 2nd week check up my uterus was at the size of when I was 6 months pregnant so I still looked pregnant. And although my belly is not down where I want it by any means I know I have to be patient and just nourish myself to the best of my ability and let nature do what it needs to do. But I feel your frustration ladies!
Keep it Clean and Move Around
The nurses will want you up and walking the very next day. The draping to your incision will be removed when the doctor checks your scar and you will be instructed to shower and keep the area clean. This part always makes me nervous because the thought of actually having to touch where they just opened freaked me out. To clean it just use regular body soap and warm water. Don’t go crazy using an antibacterial because it makes no difference really. Keep it clean and dry.
I bought a couple boxes of gauze squares so that after each shower I would pat it dry with gauze then take one layer and place it over my incision. If you have the c-section “flap” or “fold over” this will keep it dry but also breathable. I also took my blowdryer, placed it on the cool and lowest setting and I blow-dry it lightly. After 4 weeks I stopped using the gauze.
The thought of walking the next day after your c-section or showering may sound crazy but even though it hurts, do it. Take it very slowly but do it. The more you move the quicker you will be back to your old self. I find the first 3 to 4 days are the hardest and it just gets easier after that. Remember you just had major surgery so go slow but keep it steady. I found walking around my room, back and forth to the bathroom and to the nursery a few times was enough for me.
When you’re home you can hold your baby but for the first two weeks or after your first post op appt. then you can carry the car seat. But in the beginning no walking up and down stairs or lifting anything heavy. Take it easy around the house, don’t go crazy doing house chores or things like that because as you have to move around rest is also crucial. You don’t want to be immobile while you’re home but you do want to be mindful of your incision.
Don’t be afraid or shy to ask for assistance in the shower. I had my husband basically bathe me. In those moments you’ll feel super vulnerable but the help will be greatly appreciated because it’s still hard to move and twist around straight after any surgery. Especially abdominal when that’s your core and you use your core for everything.
Stay on Top of Your Pain Meds
While you’re in the hospital the nurses will have you on a very tight schedule with your pain meds. Don’t try to play tough and not take them, trust me you need them. When you’re on your pain meds you will be able to get up easier and walk around. This will get things going again. If you don’t take the pain meds you’ll be in too much pain to want to get up and this can hinder recovery.
When you’re home stay on top of the meds. You will have to stay on them for about a week or two while home but at half the dose that you were on in the hospital. I logged my medication for the entire week so I didn’t lose track or forget when I took my last dose. I highly advise doing this so you don’t skip when you have to take it. I used my notes in my phone as it’s just super easy and convenient.
If you’re breastfeeding, pain and inflammation can lower your milk supply so you want to make sure to stay on top of it.
Because of all the medication you’ll be on things tend to get clogged up and you can become constipated, which totally sucks and is so uncomfortable. In the hospital they give you stool softeners, laxatives, and something like GasX (to help with gas) to help keep things moving. It’s ideal to get you to have your first bowl movement while still in the hospital.
When you’re home you should continue taking the stool softeners, laxatives and gasX. You want to get it out. Gas pain is absolutely horrendous after a c-section, so much so that it can be even more painful than the incision itself! This happened to me on the 3rd night I was home from the hospital and my husband literally had to hold me up while walking because the pain was unbearable. Try to avoid that at all costs and keep up with eating foods high in fiber and taking the softeners.
What really helped me was Milk of Magnesia. I drank that and not even two hours later I was passing the gas and going to the bathroom. When it comes out it’s such a relief, words can’t even describe.
Take Advantage of All The Hospital Has to Offer
The nurses and nurses aid help you with everything. From cleaning you, to changing your pad and undies, to changing the baby and even taking the baby to the nursery so you can catch some Z’s. Do it and let them help. At first it can be a little embarrassing but you get over that real quick when you realize you can’t really wipe your own ass or bend down to pull your mesh undies up. They stock you with mesh underwear, pads and what looked like wee wee pads to keep your bed clean. The nurses aid comes in multiple times a day and night to check your vitals while your nurses will check on your incision at each new shift to make sure it’s healing. You will get a daily visit from your doctor as well to make sure things are healing as they should.
Here’s my take on letting the baby stay in the nursery at night. If you’re breastfeeding they will bring the baby in every hour and a half to two hours so baby can feed then you can go back to sleep and get some rest. If you’re formula feeding you can opt to keep the baby in the nursery all night and I think you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing that. You need the rest. Resting makes you heal faster and you won’t get this kind of help at home so LET THEM HELP, that’s what they are there for and they want to help you. I had the best nurses the second time around. I didn’t want to leave the hospital. I felt like I was on a mom retreat just with having a surgery.
When you’re home let your spouse or family help you. Don’t feel you have to jump right back into the grind. It’s hard to sit up or get up on your own at first and you need an arm to help you. Every time I was done feeding my son in the hospital I would call for a nurse to come in and take him off me so I could get up. Then I was able to lay him in his little carrier. If you’re not up to full capacity you won’t be able to be your best mom self. So take care of you so you can be the best mom you’re meant to be. If you try to do too much too soon you can seriously hurt yourself and you don’t want to take any precious time away from your new baby. Remember slow and steady.
Eat to Feed and Nourish
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not eating a well balanced diet is very much ideal. Your body just went through a very traumatizing experience and eating good quality foods to help the recovery process is best. Much like how you would eat while pregnant, you want to eat like that post baby too. Eat foods high in fiber, healthy fats and proteins. I had my husband bring me a large pitaya smoothie every morning.
If you are breastfeeding you want to eat to produce milk. Milk doesn’t come right away (that’s another blog post) but with the right foods and help from lactation consultants you will be on the right track. I ate a lot of oatmeal, and rice in the hospital too, I was craving carbs like that.
Continue taking your prenatal vitamins!
The C-Section Itch
This one my friends I have no remedy for. It fucking sucks. I’m 5 weeks out and still my scar itches and I can’t have at it like I want to. It is the most annoying thing about a c-section delivery. I don’t understand how I can be numb in some parts of my stomach and still have itchiness! It drives me crazy. The only thing that helps alleviate it somewhat is a shower and when I just press on it. I will warn you, it’s extremely frustrating this itch. If it was a person I’d throat punch it for sure. If you have any tips on how to subside the itch please write it below for moms who are dealing with it now or will have to deal with it after delivery. I know itchiness is a sign of healing but it will drive you nuts. I’ve read some women use ice packs. I haven’t tried that myself yet but let me know if you have and if it really helps. Then I read some women use Maderma Scar Cream and that helps the itch but then I also read to be careful with that because you can have a reaction to it. Always test creams out on a small patch of skin before hand. But if you used Maderma and it worked I’d love to hear your story below as well. Us Momma’s have to help each other out!
At 6 Weeks Post C-Section
You should be able to resume all normal activities. But my advice is take your time getting back into the swing of things. Your body was under madness while pregnant. Be patient with yourself and your body.
Your tummy will always feel weird with odd sensations. Parts will always feel numb.
This is everything you can expect when having a c-section and all my tips and personal experiences when it comes to recovery. With my first c-section I didn’t know any of this so the second time around like I said was much easier and I’m glad I can help shed some light on this if you’re a first timer. I know it can be scary and super painful but you will get better and stronger everyday. Just look at your new little love and know it was all worth it. Although I do think laying an egg and sitting on it for a couple of months would be much much easier. 🙂
If you’re a first time mom remember that everyone is different as is every pregnancy and delivery. We can all just learn from one another. My advice to you is to have a plan but don’t have a plan. Babies come when they want and they come in the way they want.
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