As caesarean births have become more commonplace, the questions regarding recovering from caesarean birth have increased. Most families do not anticipate a caesarean birth and are caught off-guard when it occurs. They have not prepared themselves or their homes for optimal recovery from a caesarean.
Part 2 of our blog series will examine the normal expectations for caesarean recovery, as well as how to help.
Caesarean recovery is both similar and different to vaginal birth recovery. A caesarean birth is fundamentally a surgery. The incision cuts through skin, fat, and muscle. There are many layers of healing that need to take place. This healing takes time; even when the outermost scar is healed, further healing will continue taking place in the deeper layers of muscle and tissue.
Many of the every day activities that we take for granted are more difficult for the first two to four weeks after a caesarean birth. Stairs may be difficult to navigate. One way to make this easier is to set up feeding and changing stations on each floor of the house so that you can limit the number of times you need to use the stairs.
Coughing, sneezing, and even crying can be painful because you will activate abdominal muscles that are still healing. A helpful tip is to hold a small pillow gently to your belly when you feel the need to sneeze. This provides additional support.
A postpartum girdle can also help as your body heals from a caesarean birth. There are many commercially available girdles, and Toronto Family Doulas also offers belly binding to help our clients.
One of the most important things that can be done to recover from a caesarean birth is to stay on top of managing your pain. It is much harder to ‘catch up’ to pain than it is to stay ahead of it. Being in pain will slow down the healing and make the pain last longer.
If you are breastfeeding after a caesarean, try different holds that keep baby off your belly can help. Many new parents find football hold and side-lying nursing to be the most comfortable while recovering from a caesarean.
Your doctors will advise you to be careful lifting. Listen to this advice! The heaviest thing you should be lifting is your baby. That means you should avoid lifting the carseat (lift baby out instead), and older children. Over-exerting yourself physically will impede your healing process and can cause complications with your scar.
Remember, healing takes time! Your body has given birth and it will take time before you feel like normal. Gentle walks can help you to feel more like yourself, as well as promoting healing.
Read Part 1 here.