My son was born two weeks early via an unscheduled Caesarean. As my C-Section was unplanned, it threw my usually organised self completely off-guard as I wasn’t at all prepared for the recovery. I’m not going to lie, it was a really rough couple of weeks, but I came out the other side. Recovery takes time and a lot of support from family and friends. Embrace all of the help you can get, and don't push yourself too hard! Here are my top tips to make your recovery as smooth as possible;
1. Embrace Help
It was mostly just my husband and I for the first ten days postpartum. As I couldn’t pick the baby up or change him, I relied heavily on my hubby. He would change the baby and hand him over to me to feed him, as well as doing pretty much everything else I would normally do around the house. Luckily, he had generous paternity leave so was on hand whenever I needed anything. My mother and sister arrived to help out when my son was 10 days old. I was more mobile at that stage and found it harder to allow them to help, but after a couple of days of pain from over-doing it, I learned to embrace it. They took over a lot of the tasks I couldn’t take care of like laundry, cooking dinner, and also took care of the baby at times so I could rest. Which brings me to tip #2…
2. Rest, rest and more rest!
If you’re anything like me, you find it hard to sit still and do nothing. Especially when you have a newborn! I can’t stress enough how important it is to get plenty of rest, and plenty of sleep, after a Caesarean. It’s major surgery, and if you don’t take it easy, you will prolong your recovery time. So curl up on the couch with your babe and Netflix for a couple of hours, or hand baby off to family so you can have a nap.
3. Take your Medication
I was discharged with 8 different types of medications – painkillers, stool softeners, iron tablets, vitamins and so on. My medication schedule was ridiculous and included needing to set an alarm for 4 am to take painkillers. It’s not fun taking medication, but it’s vital to your recovery. Managing the pain and building your system back up will get you back on your feet quicker. Stay ahead of the pain!
Hospital beds are amazing! Some even have those nifty remotes that shift the bed up and down and let you choose your incline. After a C-Section, your real bed will pale in comparison. I had the hardest time getting in and out of our bed (and also getting off the couch). Pillows, and more pillows helped me to sleep – I practically slept sitting up for 6 weeks.
5. Granny Knickers
You’ll have an incision on your bikini line, making it uncomfortable and awkward to wear regular underwear. High-waisted, ugly-as-sin, granny knickers are the way to go. I found underwear designed especially for C-Section recovery online. Granny knickers aren't sexy, but they're necessary! Nightdresses are usually better than PJ's at this stage.
6. Talk About It
I didn’t have a birth plan, so I wasn’t upset that my labour experience ended in surgery. However, I know some women are very disappointed when labour doesn’t go as planned. While I was on board with the surgery, I did have a very hard time coming to terms with the recovery. I felt inadequate as a mother for the first week or two. I couldn’t take care of my son like I had expected to – changing him, picking him up when he cried and so on. Breastfeeding was also a huge challenge for us, and one that we ultimately failed. All of this, coupled with postpartum hormones, affected me mentally. I cried often, and my emotions were all over the place. Talking it out with my husband helped to balance these feelings, and as I started to feel better physically, my mental state improved. Don’t bottle up your feelings or frustrations – Find a friend, family member or doctor to speak to.
7. Comfy Clothing
As I mentioned, the incision from a C-Section is on the bikini line. This is amazing as it’s discreet, but makes for limited clothing options postpartum. I had bought the high-waisted nursing leggings under recommendation from a friend before my baby was born and they were a godsend after surgery. They’re high waisted, seamless (no seam digging into the incision) and compress the tummy. I lived in these during my recovery (and still do!). Other clothing options that work well are leggings in general, pants or skirts with elasticated waistbands, or dresses.
8. Get Moving!
In the hospital, they place an emphasis on having you get out of bed and start moving around within 24 hours post-op. Moving is a very important step in your recovery. Focus on taking baby steps at first – walk to the bathroom or just get up once every couple of hours and walk around your bed. Once you’re home, try and set yourself small goals each day. Go for a walk with your baby and increase the distance a little every day. Seven days postpartum, I could only manage to walk for five minutes to the shop and back. Two weeks later, I was up to walking two miles per day. Moving will build your strength, and it’s a great mood booster to get outside and be active. Just remember to take it easy and if you notice any pain you’re likely overdoing it so put your feet up and get some rest.
So there you have it – My tips for surviving C-Section recovery. It’s tough when you’re going through it, but rest assured that you will feel back to your normal self by Week 6 if you take it easy and listen to your body.