Cesareans, or C-sections, can be overwhelming to think about or even consider. The truth is when you have the right kind of preparation, support and mentality about C-sections it’s not as bad as you may imagine. We will go over some tips on how to take care of yourself after a cesarean, both physically and emotionally, in today’s blog.
While all mothers will need time to recover from the stresses of pregnancy, recovery from a C-section is a little different from a vaginal birth. Your body has just gone through not only carrying a baby for 9 months, but now a major surgery! A full recovery from a C-section will take around 6 weeks, and require a short stay in the hospital following the birth. It will also require:
- Making rest your top priority!
- Avoid driving, stairs, lifting anything even remotely heavy, and any housework if at all possible.
- Holding back on having sex until your body has recovered fully.
- Being cautious and keeping an eye on the incision site. For example, holding your stomach when you laugh, cough or sneeze, so as to reduce pain in the area.
- Talk to your doctor about what painkillers, like Tylenol or ibuprofen, are appropriate for you to take during recovery–you don’t have to suffer without them!
While resting is the biggest part of recovery, another vital piece to recovery is gentle exercise. It is recommended to take light walks to avoid getting blood clots. Very light stretching can also help keep you active in this time of rest. Additionally, getting a proper intake of water will also help avoid experiencing constipation.
Childbirth can take a toll not only on your body, but on your mind. Having a C-section could contribute to the already taxing experience of childbirth and due to the restrictive recovery regime you can start to feel helpless. It is important to talk to friends, family, and a therapist if necessary. There are also support groups (virtual or in-person) so you can talk to other women who understand what you’re going through. It’s understandable that you may feel helpless because of undergoing the C-section. You could even be experiencing feelings such as anxiety or depression. Surround yourself with people who will uplift you and help you and your baby. Confide in those you trust and if you feel you are struggling with anxiety or depression, please talk to your doctor.
When to Call Your Doctor
If you experience any abnormal symptoms, call your doctor. These could be a sign of infection or a medical emergency. Some symptoms may include:
- discharge or blood oozing from the incision
- redness or swelling at the incision site
- difficulty breathing
- pain, swelling or numbness in your legs or feet
- heavy intense vaginal bleeding
- pain or trouble urinating
- intense stomach pain or cramps
- high temperature
Every woman’s pregnancy is different, and every woman’s recovery will be different. This is still the case for the C-section route of delivery. While the timeframe for recovery is typically said to be 6 weeks, it could be more or less for you. Some things, like pain at the incision site, may affect you more than another woman, or you may breeze through the pain. Other people may be affected by the negative stigma around having a C-section. Unfortunately, there can be a perspective that having a cesarean delivery is not an “authentic” birth, or that the mother just “gave up” trying to have them naturally. We encourage you to not think this way. It doesn’t matter how you have your baby, just as long as you and the baby are happy and healthy through the process. Just remember it is important to pay attention to your body and your doctors, and not overdo anything in the healing process. If you notice anything concerning, call your doctor or schedule an appointment at any of our three locations.