With approximately 30% of all babies in the United States being delivered via Cesarean section, it’s no surprise that the mother’s recovery period often looks a little different than imagined. Although rest is super important after a standard vaginal delivery, having a major abdominal surgery on top of a brand new baby brings a whole new dynamic into play. As experienced Utah doulas, we would like to provide a few bits of wisdom on an easier and smoother recovery from a Cesarean…
- Pain Management
After your surgery, your medical care team will provide you instructions on pain management and help you come up with a medication plan. You may use prescription pain medications for the first several days depending on how your recovery goes. After that, your doctor may recommend ibuprofen. Be sure to take your medicine at the right time, even if you have to set an alarm to remember. If you forget, by the time you start to feel the pain coming back, it will take a while for the medicine to kick in! It will take at least a few weeks for the pain around the incision to disappear, assuming there are no other complications.
- Watch for Signs of Infection
Infection is a fairly common complication after having a baby, especially if delivered via Cesarean. Watch out for oozing and redness around your incision, a fever, and chills and malaise. If you have a fever and chills but no problem with your incision, the infection could lie elsewhere, such as with a piece of retained placenta inside your uterus. Let your care provider know right away if you experience symptoms of infection after having a Cesarean.
- Move Carefully, Respect Your Body
It may be tempting to get up out of bed and resume your normal activities, but try to show yourself some grace for the amazing journey you have just undergone. Your body has gone through so much in order to bring your beautiful baby into the world. When you do get up, roll carefully to the side, and hold your legs together as you come to the edge of the bed. You may also even hold a pillow to your incision to keep it from being jostled – this is also a great idea if you have to sneeze, cough, or hold your baby on your lap. Avoid vacuuming, driving, and lifting anything heavier than your baby for at least a few weeks or until your care provider gives you the all-clear.
- Learn About Scar Massage
Because the Cesarean incision involves seven different layers (skin, fascia, muscle, and so on), it is quite common for some of those layers to adhere as they heal together. This can lead to pain, itching, numbness, and difficulty moving the area around the incision. Once the incision has healed, it is a good idea to break up the scar tissue with gentle massage. You can do this by lying on your back and rubbing gentle circles over the area with lotion on your fingers.
- Take Care of Your Bottom
Don’t neglect your pelvic area just because you delivered via Cesarean. You will still have the same vaginal bleeding for a few weeks, as well as some possible swelling. And if you pushed prior to your Cesarean, you could even have hemorrhoids or prolapse. Use the peri bottle to clean yourself after using the toilet, and try to avoid constipation and straining. You can do this by drinking lots of water, eating fruits and vegetables, and taking supplements such as magnesium and your prescribed stool softeners.
- Belly Binding
Belly binding is an ancient postpartum healing practice which has been used in many cultures around the world for thousands of years, and we are just starting to get the memo in the United States. Many postpartum women have reported that the gentle compression helps them feel more supported and have a faster healing time as their uterus returns to its former size. You can purchase a post-Cesarean belly binding garment, or look into a Bengkung belly binding provider. This is a great idea for once your stitches are healed/staples are taken out.
With plenty of rest, support, and nourishment, you can have a smooth recovery from Cesarean birth and feel up to resuming some activities before you know it. A postpartum doula is the best tool we currently have to help new parents get the kind of hands on, practical everyday support they need – if you are looking for a professional postpartum doula in Utah, contact us today.