My youngest daughter was born via an emergency Cesarean section surgery. I had planned on a normal vaginal delivery, but one little sentence, uttered by my nurse, changed everything. “Yep! That’s a foot!” The c-section went well, but the recovery was far from what I was used to.
Move. And then move some more.
Getting up and moving around soon after the c-section was important. The nurses called it walking, but really it’s more like shuffling in small spurts. I shuffled from the bed to the bathroom, from the bathroom to the bed, and even made it to the big comfy chair in the corner a few times during the four days I was in the hospital.
I was told that trying to maintain correct posture while walking, fully upright with back and hips straight, was more important than the amount of walking done, and I found this to be true. It was harder to do, but I didn’t hurt as much afterward if I minded my posture.
The first few days were the hardest, but over time it got better and easier to move around. I added just a few more feet to my movement every day. Making movement goals helped a lot. Adding a room to see, or number of times I saw a room every day became my goals.
Pillows and bandages were my friend.
The first time I tried to sit up after the c-section I found I couldn’t. It wasn’t that it was too painful (though the pain was intense). It was that the muscles simply didn’t work. Alarmed, I called for the nurse. She swept in, grabbed a pillow, and shoved it against my stomach before telling me to try again. This time, with the pressure of the pillow against my abdomen, I was able to sit up.
The nurse explained that the muscles were in shock and needed to be supported when being used. While still in the hospital, I just used the pillow when moving around. But once I got home I took my nurse’s advice and wrapped my hips and abdomen tightly with an ace bandage. It felt like my insides were going to fall out every time I stood up. So, I wrapped myself in a way that felt like the bandage was keeping them in, and this helped a lot.
Don’t forget you just gave birth.
Childbirth is still childbirth, no matter how it happens. My body went through all the same changes it did after I gave birth to my older girls, on top of recovering for the c-section. I still bled vaginally, my hormones were still upset from the sudden change, and I still had swollen breasts. I was exhausted at odd times, and prone to nap spontaneously.
No pushing allowed after a c-section.
Eating right was even more important than after a vaginal birth because, believe me, the last thing you want after a c-section is get constipated or gassy. The muscles involved in dealing with constipation or gas aren’t in proper working order and they will let you know in excruciating ways if you abuse them. A daily fiber supplement went a long way for me.
The walking helped in this area too. Getting up and moving your body helps to move things around corners inside you. I used this as motivation to stroll-shuffle through my house a few times a day.
No weight-lifting allowed!
My daughter was born with a rare orthopedic disorder, and the resulting appliances attached to her little body immediately after birth nearly doubled her weight. This meant that for the first week the only time I could hold her was when I was sitting down and someone placed her in my arms. I was under strict instructions not to lift anything heavier than my baby’s un-enhanced weight until the doctor said otherwise. “Otherwise” turned out to be four weeks.
Keeping a clean c-section incision.
One thing that should go without having to be said is keeping your incision clean. But, it’s easy to panic just a bit when you look at that big pucker across your stomach. I let my husband and grandmother check and clean my incision for me after the staples came out. They knew what to look for and were less likely to panic because they couldn’t feel the little tugs and pulls on the skin, that were perfectly normal.
Recovering from a c-section takes longer than recovering from a vaginal birth, but if you keep your head about you its not that hard to avoid most problems. Keep your pillow handy for sudden bouts of laughter or crying, not for your head, but for your tummy. Eat right and stay hydrated. And let someone else to do the lifting.