What Helped In My C-Section Recovery
You may remember from Miles’ birth story that I had an emergency c-section. This post is a reader request and a look into what my experience was and what helped in my c-section recovery vs. a vaginal delivery.
I don’t have much advice about the actual procedure since mine wasn’t planned and those that are tend to be far less chaotic. I was also in and out of consciousness, so I remember, but also don’t, you know? I think every birth experience is different and this is what helped me afterwards, so take what you will from it. 🙂
I’m not going to go into huge detail about what to pack in your hospital back because even though I Googled that a million times before I went, it really just came down to what I felt comfortable bringing. I imagined I was going out of town for a few days and thought about what I would need. Honestly, if you deliver in a hospital, they will give you TONS of supplies to use while you are there and to take home with you, so don’t freak yourself out thinking that you have forgotten something. You’ll also be there for a few days, so even if you did, someone is likely able to grab it for you.
One thing that I did have to ask for and that helped following my c-section was an abdominal binder or belly band. This is basically a wide, tight belt that goes around your stomach and holds everything together. Following delivery, everything is pretty soft and squishy. Add major abdominal surgery to that and it can feel really difficult to move around. Wearing the binder helps stabilize things and made me feel more secure about moving and walking. It’s good to wear for a few days, but try not to rely on it too heavily in your recovery because you want your body to be able to heal on its own.
What helped for recovery
The first day I traveled by wheelchair, then I was up and out of bed the day after I had him. It’s important to start walking around as soon as possible to help promote healing. Granted, I was half bent over and hobbling down the hallway, but each time I did it I felt a little stronger. Obviously, don’t overdo it, but you don’t want to lie in bed forever.
This may seem like common sense, but I feel like it needs repeating even in every day life. Drink as much water as you can.
My doctor didn’t tell me about these until my six week checkup, but you can start using them earlier than that, as long as your incision has fully healed. They are silicone strips that help minimize the scar appearance and soften the incision. You can either go for the brand name or generic; they’re the same thing.
This shouldn’t be done until a couple weeks after you’ve gotten home from the hospital, but the earlier you can start, the better. I received the go ahead at my two week checkup because my incision had healed. It’s important to mobilize the scar to prevent underlying scar tissue from adhering to other parts of your body. Adhesions can lead to a variety of issues from pain to muscle dysfunction, so you want to try and get the area under and around the scar as loose as possible.
Some references for scar mobilization:
- seeing a pelvic floor therapist
- @expectingandempowered on Instagram has a highlight on c-sections that is fantastic
- You Tube videos
Use a pillow for coughing
One thing to pay attention to is when you have to cough or strain (make sure you also stock up on stool softener post-baby). If you have to cough and have a pillow handy, hold it over the incision and press against it as you cough. If you don’t have a pillow, simply put your hand there and do the same thing. This will help alleviate the pain associated with coughing or sneezing right after a c-section.
Take pain medicine if you need to
I was prescribed a couple different pain medications, but only went home with Ibuprofen because I felt fine enough to not need the narcotic. (This is a personal decision obviously since being in recovery, and if you feel better having them then TAKE THEM!). If you’re in pain, take the medicine.
This also goes without saying no matter how you deliver a baby, but even more so after a c-section. Try and keep everything you need nearby and within reaching distance. Obviously, you’ll need to get up and walk around, but minimizing that amount is helpful in those early days. Do more of a side roll to get off the couch rather than how you’d normally get up. Ask for help. Have someone else walk the dog. Take a nap. Although my couch was comfortable, the seat where I chose to sit required me to use my core a lot to get up which I’ll be avoiding if/when this happens again.
To be honest, I felt pretty good after 2-3 weeks. They took my staples out in the hospital at day 5, so it’s not like you leave with a gaping wound. Just be careful and take things a step at a time as you recover. It should also go unsaid that you’ve just had major abdominal surgery and another human taken out of you, but it seems like women need to be reminded of that to be able to give themselves permission to take things easy. Take things easy. Take all the time you need.