Information from our online community compiled by MargaretKelley
Trigger Warning! Delicate WomanPosting below!
So you’ve had a c-section or you’ve been told you need a c-section. Relax! Although it is typically not the ideal, it can happen to the best of us for both legitimate and unnecessary (unnecesarians) reasons.
I am an exclusive c-section mama of three living kiddos. Two of my kids would have killed me 100 years ago. One was a planned repeat c-section. While I have had three c-sections, don’t worry if your experiences don’t line up with mine! Just as two vaginal births don’t line up perfectly, neither do c-sections. My recoveries from my c-sections weren’t even the same. Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve found to be helpful over the course of my recoveries:
-Buy brand name Depends. Make sure they are unscented. I accidentally bought scented Always adult diapers and broke out in hives on my brand-new incision. Do not recommend.
-Tying into the above – ask the nurses to put you into your Depend ASAP. I helplessly bled all over the sheets with the old-fashioned maxi pads they use in the hospitals, and you’re typically paralyzed from the chest down for about 4-8 hours after your c-section. It’s not a fun feeling.
-For the first 24 hours, ice that incision as much as you can. This will help reduce the swelling from the trauma of the surgery. Once that 24-hour mark hits – switch to heat and don’t look back. The heat will speed your healing whereas the ice will hinder healing. I used a heating pad on my incision twice a day in 2-hour intervals.
-Ideally, for the first two weeks, your ONLY focus should be you and your newborn. Line up help for childcare for older siblings and meals. Call in every reinforcement you can and don’t entertain them politely from the sofa.
-You do need to keep active to avoid blood clots. However, “keeping active” does not mean throwing a workout into your normal daily household chores. I find that caring for myself and my baby – getting up to go pee, putting the baby down in the nursery, etc., is plenty.
-Don’t be a hero. Take your pain meds. Do not let the nurses bully you into narcotics “because it will get worse.” You know your body. If you need the narcotics, go for it! If you don’t want or need narcotics, refuse them firmly. Some alternatives to narcotics include cycling ibuprofen and Tylenol or using a stronger NSAID, such as Torodol. If you are in agony waiting for your next dose of pain meds, discuss dosing and schedules with your doctor. I have much better luck taking a smaller dose more frequently than a larger dose less often. Talk to your doctor!
-Soften those poops! Your first postpartum poop will make you feel like all your guts are going to explode out your incision. Don’t worry – they won’t, but it’s not a fun time. Drink that coffee. If you are having a planned c-section, talk to your doctor about taking colace before your c-section. I recommend a stool softener, like colace, over a stimulating laxative. I find laxatives much more painful, where as stool softeners with plenty of coffee and water will help the poop glide out gently. If you have older kids, make sure you have childcare when it comes time for that first poop!
-Some women swear by binders immediately postpartum. I don’t like them – they’re too rigid, constricting, and I find they hinder nursing. My favorite support garment are these high waisted, control top panties. Very reasonably priced and I find them to be more comfortable and more supportive than my Spanx brand panties.
-If you are having a planned or non-emergent c-section, ask your OB if they can put a couple mattress stitches in your rectus sheath. In order to get to your uterus, your abdominal muscles are ripped apart at the midline (if pregnancy has not already separated them). It is not standard to stitch them back together when they are stitching you up, but it can be done. If it is not done, you are very likely to develop diastasis recti, which will require many months of careful exercise or even more surgery later to correct later on. A separate surgery to correct diastasis recti is not commonly covered by insurance. Diastasis recti will result in a bulging belly that no amount of dieting or crunches will correct and lower back pain, among other things.
-Don’t be in a rush to get your pre-baby body back. I always give myself 9 months of taking it easy before I really start stressing my body trying to get back in shape. Full recovery from a c-section is 9-12 months. Eat healthy and go for walks but avoid strenuous exercises torturing your body back into shape.
-A postpartum wardrobe will do wonders for your self-confidence. Get clothes that are nursing friendly (even if you have no plans to nurse with this pregnancy, you may wish to years later) and compassionate to a changing shape.
-I find it to be very helpful to take pictures of my belly and my scar. Your scar will not always look so ugly. Your belly will not always be so bloated, saggy, or wrinkly. Pictures will help you see how much you have progressed and always bring me a measure of comfort.
-While it’s great to stock your freezer full of meals for postpartum, keep in mind common baby allergens/sensitivities (most common are dairy, egg, and soy). It’s a terrible feeling to realize your freezer is full of cheesy dishes when your baby cannot tolerate dairy.
What other tips can you add for expectant mamas?