HOW TO HEAL AFTER A C-SECTION
If you were googling “C-Section Recovery” or “C-Section Recovery Essentials”-
You’ve come to the right place. I’ve never had any experience with C-Sections myself so I asked my lovely sister-in-law, who has had 4 of them (and has 4 lovely, healthy children) to allow me to interview her for this article!
You can check out this article for the full list of postpartum recovery essentials.
Can you introduce yourself and describe each c-section?
My name is Amanda and I am lucky enough to have four kiddos to love. I’ve had four c-section recoveries!
Baby 1 was an emergency. After 12 hours of labour there was fetal distress to the point that it became necessary.
Baby 2 was breach right to the end. The doctors didn’t feel breach delivery was safe and attempting to turn the baby could also carry heavy risks. No vbac for me!
Baby 3 was elective, based on my risk factors and my chance of a successful vbac being very low.
Baby 4 was elective with a “high risk specialist” at my side, as the risks increase with every additional c-section.
How was the c-section recovery? Different or similar for each delivery?
The first c-section was most difficult to get through the first couple of days. My body was so exhausted after a labour followed by a major surgery. When my pain medications wore off, I was still having some contractions, and in a lot of pain. The good news was that after those first days, my recovery was surprisingly quick and easy!
Baby 2 and 3 were scheduled and similar to each other. I knew what to expect, and got through without complications.
Baby 4 was hard. I had some complications so my surgery was longer, I had a vertical incision, as well as my tubes tied.
My recovery was long and painful, but at exactly 6 weeks postpartum, in an almost miraculous way, I very suddenly bounced back.
What things came up after your c-sections during recovery that were unexpected?
With Baby 1, I felt great by week two! They say don’t carry anything heavier than your baby for those 6 weeks of recovery. At about 4 weeks I thought I was totally fine, and I carried my baby in her car seat for about a block and then suffered in pain for a week after. When they say take it easy for 6 full weeks, you don’t know better, just listen to them!
You still bleed. After baby 1, I thought “well my belly looks like Frankenstein’s forehead, but I escaped all the other stuff.”
No, you still bleed afterward and I bled for over a month straight with all of my babies.
I had never had any kind of surgery and didn’t know more than the basics about c-sections before my first. I honestly expected to be bedridden. I was shocked to find out that you need to be up and walking around within hours of your surgery!
The first time you get up is a shock.
With baby 1, When I tried to get up the first time, I just couldn’t do it and I cried and gave up. The nurses gave me more pain meds and came back in a few hours to make me try again. It took my breath away to get up for the first few days, but every day gets a little bit easier.
I was also surprised and amazed at my body and how quickly it was healing. Each day, I could actually notice that I was better than the day before. It’s so crazy to be in that state one day, feeling like you’ll never be the same again and then a week later, walking around with your baby and getting on with life!
I had never been terrified to sneeze before. Sneezing hurts…a lot.
And so does coughing…and so does laughing. After my fourth section, my 3 year old was suddenly a full blown comedian and I would beg her to stop. “Stop, stop, I’m gonna laugh. Stop!” And then I’d break and burst out laughing at her. Laughing while doubled over holding my stapled-shut stomach was a daily occurrence.
I’m not sure if everyone has this happen, but I would physically shake after the surgery. With baby 1, I was too afraid to hold her in the recovery room because i was shaking so hard.
You also can’t really breastfeed your baby immediately, because you are frozen and can’t feel if you are being pinched etc. As soon as you “thaw out” you can though, and that shouldn’t take too long. (You can still snuggle skin to skin until then!)
What are your absolute essentials for c-section recovery?
- A chair or couch that you can easily get out of, and maybe something next to it to help you pull yourself up. You’ll need to rely on your arms, not your abs to help you up. Same thing in bed, something to hold onto while you get up can be helpful.
- Some help! Support people to help look after your other kids, cook and clean, Especially in the first couple of weeks.
- A pillow. Keep a pillow next to you. If you need to cough, sneeze or laugh, hug that pillow tight against your incision to help you get through.
- High waisted underwear. Go get some granny panties because there’s nothing worse than the elastic waistband of your underwear rubbing away at your raw incision all day.
- On that note, soft and loose waisted pants, or better yet, dresses / clothing without waistbands at all.
- Prune juice or stool softener. You’re not gonna want to strain any time soon.
What can you do in advance to be prepared for a c-section? (Physically and mentally?)
- If you have a scheduled surgery, the hospital should give you a list of ways to prepare. Do all of it!
- Don’t expect your “birth plan” to be your reality. Things happen that are out of your control. If you set too much of an expectation, you might be disappointed. Remember that you and your baby’s health are what matters, and if you need a c-section to hold that baby, just appreciate that we live somewhere that can provide such an amazing an life saving intervention. (I’m From Canada by the way). ‘
- The usual prep for a baby, like frozen meals, having diapers and supplies, and having support people lined up.
What advice do you have for other moms who have one scheduled or may end up needing an emergency one?
Remember that this will be a tiny dot in the timeline of your life. When you are going through something, remember you are going THROUGH it, meaning there will be a point where you come out the other side of it. Get through one day at a time. You can do this.
You have not failed!
I hear other c-section mothers say they feel like they “failed” by not giving birth vaginally.
I never felt this way, and I think women who do, could be less hard on themselves. You grew a human! Your body did something amazing and miraculous and if you are holding a healthy baby at the end of it, you are one of the lucky ones! To me it doesn’t matter if you have a c-section, or a vaginal birth, if you get an epidural or you don’t.
The delivery is just the means to getting to hold your baby in your arms.
Thank you so much for sharing all of that about c-section recovery with us Amanda!