C-Section Delivery After Care: 5 Tips For Easier Recovery

I’ve read so many articles about how people look at Cesarean Section as a “lazy option” of delivering a child and how it is deemed as the quick leeway to steer clear a mother from too much pain caused by vaginal delivery. I am not personally comfortable with the thought of others who think that C-Section doesn’t make a mother a real woman. Not without them experiencing all those pains. No doubt, they don’t understand at all how it feels like having an incision from delivering a child, what more... the healing and recovery process.

Yeah, I haven’t experienced simultaneous normal delivery. On my second pregnancy I personally opted for a Vaginal Birth After C-Section but that, unfortunately, wasn't possible. I wasn’t a candidate since I do have a very narrow pelvis and if I push through, that means putting myself and my baby in danger. But that doesn’t mean that I spared myself from the pain of delivering a baby through  vaginal delivery because the moment I accepted to have an Elective C-Section (as recommended by my doctor) that means I embraced every painful aspect of it: the idea of opening an old wound again, going through the whole operation including the vomiting (which I had for 8 times from the Operating Room until we were transferred to our room) and the terrifying chills; the pain of laughing and sneezing, the pain of urinating and pooping, the pain of simply getting up to sit and stand, the pain of lying back to bed and how difficult it is to change from one side to another, and the painful, long recovery afterwards just to bring forth a lovely soul out of this world. The pain is real. Cesarean delivery certainly doesn’t make me less of a mom, especially having it twice!

Now for everybody’s knowledge, A Cesarean-Section (also spelled Caesarean section) or simply called C-Section is major surgery. Yep! Not just your ordinary medical procedure but it is a major abdominal surgery where mothers are blotched open. Studies show that C-Section is a lot riskier than a vaginal delivery.




C-Section Delivery After Care
C-Section Delivery Diagram excerpted from www.girlsgonestrong.com


Cesarean Section is not a “lazy option” for mothers. In fact, it is only recommended and thus performed for situations like if  you had a previous  C-Section or had other surgeries on your uterus or womb, pelvic inlet contraction (small pelvic bone just like my case), the baby is in a breech position, umbilical cord issues like cord loop and umbilical cord prolapse, for high-risk pregnancies (diabetes or high blood pressure, that requires treatment), if a mother has multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets or more), or in complicated cases wherein the labor is slow, fetal rate of the baby is decreasing, placenta issues or the baby has a certain type of birth defect and cases that risks the life of the mother, the baby or both.


C-Section Delivery After Care


Here are the following after-care tips for easier recovery:

1. ALWAYS CLEAN THE INCISION


Mothers who had undergone C-sections are prone to have infections so proper hygiene and wound care should be observed.  In the first week (especially when you were just sent home) the incision is still very fresh and moving especially cleaning the wound on your own might be a little challenging. Make sure to ask help from your husband or a family member to clean your incision either with an isopropyl alcohol or any disinfectant solutions recommended by your doctor. I used Betadine because it doesn’t sting.

On my first week, I still asked my husband or my mother to put some gauze after cleaning my wound as a covering or protection. Once you were able to start taking a bath, make sure to gently wash the incision by dripping it with soapy water.  Don’t scrub the wound area! Pat it dry. It is best to make sure that the area is always dry throughout the day.

Stay away from tight clothing especially pants and underwears that can irritate the incision or scratch the surrounding of your wound. Wear something comfortable while you are healing.

Call your doctor immediately if the following happens: there will be redness in the skin surrounding of the incision, it has any form of irritation, there will be some oozing green liquid (pus-like) coming out of the wound, you develop a fever, or there’s a non-stop bleeding and the wound becomes hard and painful.

2. BE MOBILE


If it is your first time to undergo C-Section, you will be very surprised (some might even be pissed) if the nurses or your doctor will recommend that you start moving even if you just had your operation.

The first time I had my C-Section I can’t believe when the nurses asked me to sit on my first day of operation. But yes! As hard as it seems, it really is recommended that you start moving for faster recovery. And so on my second C-Section, I dragged my ass out to start sitting on my first day and then stand and walk on my second day.

Being active will help your body go back to its normal functions and moving around will definitely help you recover faster. This will prevent you from blot clots and other post-operative complications.

It is recommended that you gradually increase the amount of activity week by week but don’t be excited to jump back to your normal routine especially with exercises and other strenuous activities prior to operation. Listen to your body and let it heal.  

3. EAT HEALTHY, BE HEALTHY.


Since your body had undergone a major operation, make sure that you get all the nutrients you need to have your strength back. Proper nutrition helps your body a lot in the healing process.  

On the first few days, you will be recommended to be on a soft diet as C-Section delivery is an incision in the abdominal wall, just to let your digestive system adjust. You need to focus on a healthy diet that targets good digestion, easy bowel movement to avoid strains on the abdomen, food that supports the healing process and that would provide you and your baby’s nutritional needs.

A well-balanced diet is recommended especially for lactating mothers. Invest in foods rich in carbohydrates, iron, proteins, and vitamins. Vitamin C helps a lot in speeding up the recovery process and it prevents infections. The antioxidant content of vitamin C also helps the body repair the tissue.

Iron, on the other hand, is important to maintain the hemoglobin levels of the body and to regain blood that you have lost during the delivery process. Calcium is also advised as it aids in the relaxation of muscles, strengthens the bones and teeth, combats osteoporosis and helps in blood coagulation.  Protein and carbohydrates are essential needed in the healing process as they help in the growth of new tissue as well as to increase milk production.

Now trust me on this, you have to drink a lot of fluid…as in LOTS of water and stay hydrated as it aids in smooth bowel movement and recovery from the surgery. Constipation is a real struggle post-Cesarean delivery so make sure that you drink 8 to 10 glasses of water and fluids each day. You may also eliminate the issue of constipation by eating fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables.

Don’t go on a crash diet or starve yourself while recovering especially if you are breastfeeding. The last thing you want is to deprive yourself of the nutrients that you and your baby need for growth and development.

4. TAKE PLENTY OF REST


Mothers who had C-Section will agree that sleeping definitely is a challenge. Moving from side to side is so painful most especially if you need to get up. Because of that, it is preferable to sleep on your back in your first few weeks because lying on your side will pull and stress the incision part. Please bear in mind that you need to take plenty of rest and recovery as best as you can to enable your body repair and heal itself.

Just like when you were pregnant, your pillow is your friend. On my first week, I have pillows on my side if lying on my back hurts to elevate me a little in my left or right side.  I also find my binder’s belt helpful as it allows me to move a little bit and it eliminates the pain in the core whenever I move especially if I need to get up. Also taking Mefenamic acid (pain reliever) 3x a day (as prescribed) most especially before going to bed helps me alleviate the pain for the first week.

On my second week, I am not already using the binder’s belt and I stopped taking my pain reliever (and will just take it if I can’t really tolerate the pain) so I wouldn’t be dependent on them. It surely hurts but I feel better each day.

5. TAKE YOUR TIME!


Please remind yourself that there’s no marathon post your C-Section delivery. Don’t pressure yourself into getting all your usual chores done not especially in your first few weeks. Take your time mommy! Let others (husband, family members, a friend or a helper) do the chores for you. Just keep your attention on your healing and your baby.

You may be frantic as I am to lose weight and start working on your pre-pregnancy shape back. Just stop and relax! Take one step at a time. Your body just had a major operation so you need to give it some time to heal. Breastfeeding, by the way, helps in losing weight apart from it is highly recommended for your baby’s maximum nutritional benefits so you might want to focus more on that.

It is advisable to increase your movement and the intensity of physical activities around six to eight weeks after a cesarean section in a pace that suits you. A five-minute walk can be a starter, and gradually extend it time so long as you feel you will able to. It is best to talk to your doctor and ask for clearance first before you jumpstart any type of exercise program especially those that require you to lift weights. Once you do so, expect that your doctor will recommend gentle and safe exercises in the first six weeks. Gentle exercises are those that won't put too much pressure on your stitches, or damage your scar. This includes gentle toning, pelvic tilts, bridges and leg slides.

Avoid exercises that will strain your incision such as sit-ups, planks, and straight-leg raises. Just save it in the later months.

Always listen to your body. Even if you are doing gentle and light exercises, the moment you feel any pain, stop! The last thing you want is for your wound to open again or to hurt yourself in the process.



MY THOUGHTS...


I came across this quote of Linda Wooten just days after my operation and this inspired me so much in the healing process, “Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had and dealing with fears you never knew existed”. 

Indeed! I completely forgot how painful it was and how capable my body in enduring the pain. I have been reminded again the very first time I stepped out of the hospital bed, trying to put all my strength with both my feet on the cold tiles just to initiate my first step. I never appreciated this body and the control that I have in every movement by the time I was right there in the situation where the pain is all that I can think about.

C-Section Delivery After Care
Taking my first few strides

Every little pace sends me waves and waves of pain and the fear of moving despite the fact that I just took my pain reliever. What keeps me going is this verse that I keep on rewinding in my head while taking one painful step to another; Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” this is one of my personal favorites. I cling to His word that pain is just temporary and it is a beautiful thing. Looking back, now that I am on my third week, I never felt so strong and brave yet vulnerable at the same time!

The rehabilitation for C-Section delivery is a nine to 12-month process but the experience definitely is a lifetime to remember. It takes one to understand one. I would like to congratulate you mommy for being so brave by going through the whole process and for delivering a wonderful baby. Your baby is worth all the pain!

Everything will be okay, you will soon recover and your body will be strong again. Be patient and take good care of yourself. Have a happy and purposeful healing!

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