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Make sure you are ready for a C-Section delivery. Even if you don’t plan to have one, 1 in 3 babies are born via cesarean delivery today. Here are the 20 Best C-Section Recovery Tips you NEED to know!
Did you know that 1 in 3 babies born today are born via c-section?
Yeah, that statistic shocked me too. Even in my own mama-friend circle, I see it’s truth. Actually, in our group of 5 moms, 4 of us had c-sections. Only 1 of the 5 had a vaginal delivery!
In the months following my labor and c-section delivery of my firstborn son, I wrote a post called Things I Wish I’d Known Before My C-Section.
The post has been very well received, and I’ve been emailed many times in the months since by moms sharing their c-section stories. Many of them have also suggested additions to the list.
That sparked the idea of creating a Part 2 list to accompany the first one.
Unless you’re scheduling a c-section, no pregnant mom-to-be PLANS to have a c-section. None of them hope for one either. But considering the statistics and how common they are, you’d do yourself a favor if you got as prepared as you can for a c-section. Looking back, I was hugely unprepared for my c-section, and I know my recovery would have gone a whole lot more smoothly if I had done my research and known what to expect, before I went into labor.
(Part one of the best C-Section recovery tips can be found here: Things I Wish I’d Known Before My C-Section.)
The 20 Best C-Section Recovery Tips You Need To Know – Part 2
- In most c-sections, they will strap your arms down to the operating table. There are some hospitals that might only strap one arm, or rare facilities that don’t strap them at all, but the most common practice is to strap both of them down. This is to help keep you stable and allow the doctors easy access to your IV.
- It’s common for moms to get the shakes, either from the medications or the massive amounts of adrenaline that are coursing through their system. These will subside with time, but some doctors will administer medication to counteract them if desired.
- Pain in your chest, ribs or shoulders might happen after surgery, because of air entering your body during the c-section.
- Choose stitches over staples if given the choice. You may not have a choice as it’s largely doctor preference, but if you have the choice, stitches (internal ones) are best. They heal the easiest, and don’t require you to go back in for an appointment to have them removed like you do with staples.
- If you labor first, you will likely have major body fatigue and possible vaginal trauma, swelling and pain to heal from too. If you labored first, you fought valiantly to delivery your baby vaginally. However, you ended up with a c-section, so now you need to recover from labor as well as surgery. (This is a double whammy that I faced.)
- Take advantage of the opportunity to shower. It will help you feel somewhat human again. Like I mentioned in the C-Section Recovery Tips Part One post, getting out of bed for the first time is not fun, and it feels like you might rip in half. As bad as it feels (and it feels BAD), it is normal and everyone feels that way. (That’s why they give you the option of strong pain meds.) However, you WILL feel better after a shower; a little bit more human.
- Going poop after any birth is notoriously awful. Traumatic, painful, scary… you name it. However, the medications given during and after surgery, combined with the fact that surgery slows down your digestive tract makes it even worse for people who have a c-section. Some women start taking Miralax (an osmotic laxative) ahead of time in preparation for scheduled c-sections. Your doctor will prescribe stool softeners to take after surgery and when you get home. Don’t try to tough it out, TAKE THOSE STOOL SOFTENERS!
- Your appetite might be affected after surgery. Some people find their appetite increases after surgery, which is a great thing in terms of breast milk production. However, it’s possible you might experience a lack of appetite too. This was a struggle for me in the early weeks, and it was made worse by the stress of adjusting to being a mom and caring for a newborn. However, I knew how important calories are to breast milk production, so you might need to force-feed yourself until your appetite returns.
- Even if you don’t labor first, you will still have lochia flow (varying levels of vaginal bleeding/discharge) for weeks after delivery. Huge pads and hospital underwear for the win!
- Speaking of hospital underwear, take the pairs of underwear they give you home, because they go up above the incision line. I asked for extra pairs and brought them home to wear for the first few days when things were the most tender and the lochia was the heaviest. (I may or may not have a pair still tucked away at the back of my drawer.)
- Clothes will also rub on your incision, so bring loose pants or a dress for the way home from the hospital. I didn’t expect A) to have a c-section incision when I went home from the hospital, and B) for my postpartum belly to be as big as it was, so the pants I brought to wear home from the hospital were NOT comfortable at all. I spent the early days after surgery wearing a pair of my husband’s sweatpants that didn’t have elastic in the waist, because they were the only pair that didn’t rub on my incision.
- The importance of making sure you eat plenty and drink enough water, especially for breastfeeding, even if you don’t feel like it. Like I mentioned before, your appetite might be decreased in the days following surgery. It’s crucial you continue to eat regularly (try small frequent meals of easy to eat things like granola bars, string cheese and nuts) and you also want to make sure you’re drinking LOTS of water. Breast milk production relies on the water you drink more than the food you eat, so make sure you’re drinking a lot of water. Someone told me to drink a bottle of water at each breastfeeding session in those early days, as a way to make sure you’re staying hydrated. The hydration will also help keep you regular too.
- Breastfeeding after a c-section requires special attention and care to avoid pressure on the sore incision. A Boppy pillow can help protect the incision when nursing. Or you can experiment with different breastfeeding holds; the “football hold” might help keep pressure off the incision.
- For people who have older children, it can be very hard because you will have a weight restriction limit, a limit of how much weight you can lift after surgery – it’s usually the weight of your baby. That means you won’t be able to pick your older children up for a while. You can get creative finding ways to show them love. A good snuggle works wonders!
- Take things one day at a time. It might feel like you’ll be in pain forever, but as the days pass, you will start to feel a little bit better. Pretty soon, you will be moving around better and you’ll soon be able to lift things again. As time passes and you do more and more, you’ll feel stronger and more normal with each passing day.
- It will likely take a long time to get your muscle tone back because of surgery. It was laughable to me how non-existent my ab muscles were in the weeks after surgery. I tried to flex and everything was squishy. But little by little, the muscle tone returned. Now, that doesn’t mean I have flat abs (HAHA). But I am able to lift heavy-ish things again, and workout (if I can drum up enough motivation to.)
- I mentioned the common nerve pain that accompanies your incision in the previous c-section recovery post. It’s possible that the nerve pain might not ever get 100% better. For some people, they have nerve twinges for years after their c-sections. In my case, I don’t have pain, but I have some lingering numbness or dulled sensations in the area around my incision. It doesn’t affect my daily life at all; it’s just an observable occurrence.
- This tip should really apply to almost everything in life that’s medical-related. Don’t go on Google. If you have a question or a concern, talk to your doctor. My doctor was always available via our hospital’s email messaging service, and I utilized that many times in the early weeks. If you google something, you’ll for sure think your incision ruptured and you’re bleeding internally. But really, you might have just overdone it and tweaked your healing muscles. Your doctor will be able to reassure you without you slipping down the google rabbit hole.
- Again, this advice applies to life in general. Don’t compare yourself to others. Each person’s c-section and recovery will be somewhat unique. They will all follow the same general path, but if your friend was feeling great at 4 weeks and you’re still feeling fragile and sore after 6 weeks, that’s ok. If you’ve got questions, ask your doctor. Otherwise, give yourself grace and take things a day at a time. (See tip 15.)
- After giving birth, no matter how you do it, having another baby is likely the last thing on your mind. However, for people like me who are faced with the very real probability that any future births would end in the need for a c-section, it’s common to think ahead when the surgery and recovery is fresh in your mind. After going through a c-section and experiencing the early weeks of recovery, it can be tempting to think, “I’m never doing this again!” Rest assured that most people who have had more than one c-section say that the second one is much easier than the first. A planned c-section is preferable to an unexpected c-section for many reasons (emotional and mental preparedness are among the top reasons). I’m sure they are easier and go more smoothly largely because the women know what to expect since they’ve gone through it before. They know that with time, they will heal and feel normal again, and that it’s all worth it to bring their baby into the world safely. And truly, that perspective makes all the difference in the world.
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The most current statistics show that 1 in 3 babies today are born via c-section.
It might not be what you plan for or hope will happen, but it might be your reality.
By being as prepared as possible with these 20 best c-section recovery tips, you set yourself up for success should you require one during the birth of your baby.
P.S. Make sure you’re as prepared as possible; read part one’s c-section recovery tips too – Things I Wish I’d Known Before My C-Section!
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