April is Caesarean Section Awareness month, and I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of posts about the topic, so here’s another!
As someone who had a C-section due to placenta praevia, I know first hand the difficulties faced after this surgery. So let me help you out with a few handy tips to get you through the first few weeks of recovery, while looking after a newborn!
Ten ways to help you through your C-section
Ask for skin-to-skin
This is for during the surgery. You’ll still be on the operating table, getting stitched up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hold your newborn baby.
Skin-to-skin contact has many benefits for both the baby and the mother, so let the midwife know that this is what you want.
If it is a planned c-section, then this can be a straight-forward request, however, if you have an emergency c-section, make sure you discuss this with your birthing partner beforehand, so they can communicate your wishes if you’re unable to do so.
2. Get moving as soon as you’re able
You won’t want to. You’ll be tired and achy. But, the sooner you start moving about, the better. Although you’ll need to wait for the catheter to be removed first!
As with most surgeries, there is the risk of post-op’ complications, like deep-vein-thrombosis forming in the legs. Moving also helps your body’s functions, especially your bowels, get back to normal.
3. Take painkillers!
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, then don’t worry, as the medication offered won’t affect that.
You’ll be given painkillers to take at home: paracetamol is usually recommended for mild pain, co-codamol for moderate pain, and a combination of co-codamol and ibuprofen for more severe pain.
Most new mothers experience uterine cramping, regardless of how they gave birth, but the caesarean scar can make these more uncomfortable. Remember, you’ve just had major surgery – don’t try to be brave – take the meds!
4. Go to the toilet.
Once you’re up and about, you’ll be asked to go to the toilet. Don’t worry about the blood. Much like a vaginal birth, you’ll still get post-partum bleeding.
Having your first poo will be tough going. EXTREMELY tough. Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fruit, to loosen those stools as much as possible. Take a rolled up towel with you to press against your stomach as you push.
I felt like I’d given birth a second time when I had my first post-op poo, but it’s an unfortunate necessity.
The other problem with the fact that your bowels aren’t quite in tip-top condition is the trapped gas that will build up. I’m sorry to tell you that this can be excruciating, so have some Rennies to hand. Peppermint tea can also alleviate the pain.
5. Get people to help
My Hubby stayed with me the first two nights at hospital. This meant I could rest, knowing our daughter, E, was being cared for.
He also had five weeks off work to help around the house, and look after me and E.
While I appreciate not everyone’s partners will be able to do this, don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends, and accept help offered. Honestly, even having someone cook tea for me was a big help!
Once you’re home, you won’t want to move unless i’s to care for your baby. Doctors advise that you don’t lift anything heavier than your baby, but you can still do some light walking.
Listen to your body though. Know when to stop and rest. Over-exertion won’t help you in the long run.
Because my c-section was planned, I could prepare.
Aside from my Hubby knowing when to book time off work, I also did a lot of batch cooking prior to going into hospital.
Everything I cooked for the two weeks before surgery, I doubled up on, and froze half. This was a great help to me when we got home, as I didn’t have to think about meals, and the Hubby was only required to heat them up.
7. Huge knickers!
Trust me. The last thing you want is for the waistband of your pants to rub against your scar. Buy a couple of multi-packs of big knickers. They may be unflattering, but while you’re recovering, you will want to be comfortable.
Also, pack a dress to wear when you leave hospital. Your tummy will be tender anyway, so no skinny jeans!
8. Get some extra cushions.
Getting in and OUT of bed will be even harder than those last few weeks of pregnancy. Set up pillows and cushions to keep you propped up slightly, to help for when you need to get out of bed. It will also help prevent you from turning over in your sleep and possibly pulling your stitches.
9. Get a side-sleeper cot.
Having a Snuzpod, Chicco Next2Me crib, or something similar will help you stay close to your newborn baby, without you having to worry about getting in and out of bed all night.
Having a flask of water by your bed will also help keep you hydrated during those first few sleepless nights.
10. Be positive
Having a c-section birth is no less worthy than a vaginal birth.
It isn’t the “easy way out”. There’ is no easy way to give birth.
As long as the mother and baby come out of it healthy, happy and alive, the delivery method really shouldn’t matter.
Focus on the end result. Your newborn baby. That’s what matters.