You've had a cesarean - here are my tips, tools and must have's to support your recovery.
Having recently had my third emergency cesarean I am wanting to share all my knowledge, tips and tools on how you can support your mental and physical recovery. There is a lot to unpack emotionally and mentally when you have a cesarean and it is vital you and your partner really and truly take your recovery seriously. I know this because I didn't first and even second time round! So, I am here to guide you through your post surgery recovery and if you have any further questions or want to chat please reach out.
Your recovery can be quite and intense and often a little frightening, I mean you have just had major surgery you might not have been expecting if it was an emergency cesarean!! So be kind to yourself, go slowly, ask for help and rest as much as you can.
Here is a short list of what to expect but this is not medical advice so please if anything feels, or looks abnormal call your OB or doctor straight away!
Difficulty in standing straight and walking- it is incredibly painful to move in the those first few days. I could barely get out of bed and it is vital you take things really slowly. It will take a good couple of days before you feel you can straightening your back and your core will feel very weak.
Bleeding - yes there will be blood and this can last up to 6 weeks postpartum.
Blood cots - I had a few blood clots and the midwife said if any blood clot is better than a 50p to try and scoop it out of the toilet and call them
Scar dressing - you will need to remove this after a few days and its not as painful as you think it might be. Then you scare can breathe and heal.
Your scar - or crooked smile as I like to call it! It will be very sore and delicate try avoid any clothing irritating it and be careful not to knock it as that will bring tears to your eyes!
The pain can last up to three weeks but start to subside. Look at your scar often and if it is every red call your OB or doctor immediately.
Pooing - yep that first poo will bring tears to your eyes! Drink lots of water and take stool softener. I found going to the toilet still quite painful for the first week or so so I carried on taking stool softener to make it more comfortable.
Sleeping - unfortunately it is super sore to lie flat on your back and pushing yourself up is nearly impossible in those first few days. Make sure partner passes you bub for feeding.
Here are my must have's - what to pack the bathroom and bedroom cupboards with...
Big high waisted pants - I buy a size bigger than I am, make sure they are 100% cotton and black. I am still wearing my 'big pants' now 2 months post surgery as they are so comfy and do not irritate my scar.
Large, medium and small pads - you will need the big pads for the first couple of weeks day and night then as your bleeding slows down you can change the size.
Maternity Bed Mats - you can get these from a pharmacy and I used to have one in my bed, on my breastfeeding chair and also on the sofa just in case I had any leakage from the bleeding. When my bleeding slowed down I then used the ones left over for change mats for bub!
Loose trousers, shirts, shorts - I wore baggy trousers that I could tie or sit above my scar so as not to irritate it.
Compression socks or tights - the hospital will give you these to stop blood cots and you need to wear them for the first week day and night. Get an extra pair so you can change and wash them. They are a complete pain to put on and make your legs really dry but they are vital!
Warm socks - As the tights are so tight I found I had really cold feet so a snuggly pair of socks or slippers will make you feel lovely and warm. You know you can never sleep with cold feet!
Massage oil - your legs and feet will be so dry and also very swollen so some really nice smelling massage oil and a massage from your partner is the perfect way to get the blood moving and helps the swelling. My feet looked like little pig trotters for about a week!
Stool softener - pooing is painful so I took stool softener for about a week.
Lots of pillows - it is painful for that first week to lie flat on your back as you cannot lift your body up so I slept on a heap of pillow and also when breastfeeding.
You need to take it really slowly in those first few weeks and let your body physically recover - remember you have just had major surgery. I know this is so hard and actually nearly impossible when you have a new born to look after. But these are my tips and things I have done which I have found supported my physical recovery...
No lifting anything other than your baby - yes that includes the laundry! I kept lifting things with my second cesarean and it resulted in much longer recovery so third time I didn't lift anything other than my baby!
Ask for help - this is a really big one. You are going to need help so gather your friends and family and please please ask them to do the things you need doing. From laundry to washing your hair, to tidying up to cooking.
Get a postpartum doula - they will be your lifesavers and can do the things for you you might feel uncomfortable in asking friends or family to do.
Look at your scar - it is vital you keep an eye on your scar, make sure the stiches all dissolve and also if you EVER notice any redness around the scar immediately call your OB or doctor as it might be an infection. This happened to me in both my second and third cesarean and it was my quick reaction the second time that stopped me from being admitted into hospital.
Ask for massages - another thing your doula could do for you and also your partner. Your legs and feet are really swollen for about a week and your back will also be very sore.
Having an emergency Cesarean can also impact you mentally and emotionally and that is totally normal and something I went through with all my cesareans. Once again it is vital you honour those feeling talk about them and reach out to your village if you need counselling.
Here are are a few ways to support your emotional and mental recovery...
Debrief your birth with your OB this can be very healing and help understand what happened
Counselling - reach out to a professional to further debrief and process your feelings.
Journal - another great tool for processing your feelings and any daily overwhelm that may arise
Talk to your partner - they were there with you, they saw and felt your birth and it can be really good to sit down and chat through all that happened and how you feel.
Write your birth story down - this can be very healing and help you stand back and see the birth you had and how incredibly strong and brave you really were.
Meditate -if you are finding it hard to sleep, or you are feeling overwhelmed with your recovery stop, rest, mediate and breathe.
Take one day at a time - the first few days you will wonder how you will ever feel normal again but I promise each day gets better and you get stronger.
Mamma you are brave, strong and pretty damn incredible - do not forget this!
I really hope the above helps with your recovery. If you need extra help it is never to late to book a postpartum doula to come and support you. Please, please reach out to me as I would love to guide, support and care for you during this intense time whether it be in person as your doula or over calls.