The Mama Diaries: My C Section Recovery (Tips & Advice)
It's been a little while since I've posted regularly but I hope you've picked up the new Mama Diaries schedule, which is every other week. If you're subscribed to my newsletter though, in the fallow weeks you get a lovely letter from me meaning you'll get some form of content every single Sunday. If you aren't yet subscribed, pop down to the bottom of this post where there's a button to get you on the list.
Housekeeping done, let's get on with today's post, shall we? It's one I wasn't planning to write, but I got so many questions and comments about it I realised it was something I needed to talk about.
If you're a long-time reader you'll know I planned a home-birth, which ended in an 'emergency caesarian' which, in many ways, was not a real emergency. But anyway, I had it and if you want to read my full birth story to catch yourself up on things please do.
My C-Section Recovery
In many ways, having a caesarian is routine. And in the exact same way, it's MAJOR FREAKING SURGERY. But unlike any other surgery where you are cut open under local anaesthetic in less than 15 minutes, you get a seriously minimal time to recover.
Post surgery, you'll be expected to stay in the hospital for 48 hours and tick off the various things hospitals like to see you do. Nurse your baby (by bottle or breast), pee, poo and eat normally. Anecdotally, this seems to differ massively bu hospital but where I was, the rule was 'in for 48 hours'.
I wanted OUT fairly quickly. I actually wanted to go home the same day, but there was no question of it. I was pretty anemic, hadn't slept for a couple of days and I needed to eat something!
After my first meal of tea and toast (which, let me tell you, has NEVER tasted so good, I stayed for 24 hours before satisfying the team I would be fine and going home. I honestly felt 100% fine!
But then I saw my bed, and the fun began.
The first few days
My bed is extremely high, and getting into it was a mission. Every time I tried to use my core muscles (so....most of the time) a burning pain shot through me and I felt like my tunny was about to explode.
Sneezing, laughing and coughing were all a little arduous and getting in and out of bed was laughable. I employed the 'roll, and hope for the best' tactic which was surprisingly effective but sleeping was still pretty stressful.
Picking Anaïs up was really no big deal at all, as she was so tiny. But picking her up for night feeds was hard, so Oli had to step in and help.
I can't deny, that overall -- the first few days are quite tough.
After that first week, things got better really quickly. Yes, nighttime was still a little tough and I was constantly worried my stitches would pop open and my guts would spill out (I am SO sorry for that image!) but I was fine.
After a couple of weeks, they did get a tiny bit infected but a few days of anti-biotics sorted that out swiftly and I carried on as normal.
Oli went back to work after two weeks, and I needed (and wanted!) to get out and about by myself. But living on the first floor means lugging a pram up and down the stairs which, when you are told you can't carry anything heavier than your baby for six weeks, was impossible.
But I just went ahead and did it. It wasn't so bad, and I think the carrying up and down and daily walking helped me recover (I'm not a Dr though, clearly, so don't take this as advice -- it's simply what worked for me).
If you've had a c section, you'll more than likely bedesperatee to know when you will recover and HOW the hell to speed things up! Am I right?
Wrap a scarf around the end of your bed to help pull yourself up. My doula gave me this brilliant tip and it's so simple! Such a great way of relieveing any pressure from your core.
Another way I protected my core when getting up from the sofa, or rolling over in bed was by pressing a pillow hard against my belly when I needed to move. Not so hard it hurt, but firmly enough I felt supported.
Don't do ANYTHING you don't have to do. I know this sounds plainly obvious, but how many of us add extra things into our day we 'must do', like hoovering, tidying......laundry? Don't do any of it. It'll keep.
It goes without saying that you should never, ever Google medical questions but I'm gonna say it again. Just in case. If you think there's something wrong, speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP. Don't Google it.
If you're breastfeeding, then don't worry because your baby will probably be so light you won't have any issues picking them up. But I found that lying down was the dreamiest way to feed (plus we both got a little nap in too).
In terms of practical stuff, you'll more than likely be sent home with a plethora of painkillers. I also had blood thinning injections, iron tablets and something else I can't quite remember.......Oli dosed them out to me like a pharmacist! Anyway, ibuprofen and paracetamol, taken together regularly at the MAX dose worked well enough for me. The day after I gave birth, I didn't take any painkillers becayse.....I dunno, I guess i was high on life and adrenaline or something, so when I got home I was in PAIN.
As I mentioned, you'll need to have a wee and a poo before you leave the hospital (they genuinely check!) and, to be honest, that was the scariest bit for me. The thought of being constipated and having to, ahem, strain......terrified me. I was absolutely fine, and I ate LOADS of fruit just in case but it might be worth stocking up on gas/constipation relieving things like Tums, or ginger tea. Just in case.
I would HUGELY recommend buying some really big knickers, because normal pants will probably rub against your scar. I just grabbed some in a bigger size from M&S but you can even buy special c section ones online.
A C section recovery belt is also a great idea to give you a bit of extra support. I didn't use this, but probably will for the next one. It looks like a bit of weird shapewear, but will help you feel that bit more supported as you move around.
I think that's about it. I was really lucky and my recovery was very straightforward and swift, so I know that these tips won't help those of you who are unlucky wnough to have a much harder time. Buif you are currently waiting for an elective c section, or worried you might end up with one, like me, then I hope this kit will give you some peace of mind.
Have you had a c section? Do you have any recovery tips?
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