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After Your Cesarean: Taking Care of Yourself

by Katlyn Joy | March 20, 2012 12:39 PM
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Chances are you were not expecting to give birth bycesarean section. Many c-sections are done on an emergency basis or the decision to do a cesarean will be made close to delivery day. This means you may not have made arrangements for as much help or for the length of time you will actually need following this type of birth. Recovery from a vaginal birth that is without complications is much faster and smoother than with a surgical one.

Planned Cesareans

If you know you will be having a cesarean for any reason, you can plan ahead and make life a bit easier on yourself.

- Keep all your living needs on one floor. You will need to avoid stairs for at least a few weeks.

- Arrange for help for the first few weeks. Help with the baby, your errands, your cooking and housework will be essential at first.

- Plan to wear loose fitting clothing for awhile. You won't want anything that is tight or rubs near your incision.

- Get help with older children as well. You won't be up to bouncing around with the older sis or bro so some diversion/babysitting will be invaluable.

The Emergency Cesarean

When the birth doesn't go as planned, you may feel overwhelmed. Just use those breathing and relaxation exercises now and chill out. You will be able to handle this unforeseen event just fine. Just gather your troops and forget your pride and ask for the help you need.

At the Hospital

After your c-section, you will initially be given pain medication. This may make you feel groggy. If you are breastfeeding discuss pain management options with your doctor. You don't have to soldier it out because you're a nursing mom now; you just need to take meds that are OK for breastfeeding situations.

You will be experiencing pain and bleeding as your body adjusts to several things. First, you are no longer pregnant and your hormones are going haywire. Additionally, you had a major surgery and that is no small strain on your body. Also, your body is losing all that extra fluid and your uterus is shrinking back to normal pre-pregnant size. Throw in lactation and you can imagine why you are so very exhausted right now.

Before you go home, you will start (slowly) walking about under the careful watch of nursing staff. You will have your catheter removed and never again will medical personnel be so interested in how much you go to the bathroom. They want to make sure all systems are up and running before you are released to go home.

You will also be given some medication to take once you are home for the pain that is inevitable. Don't try staying still in bed to avoid pain. You need to get moving in order to speed the healing, and the gas from surgery needs to find an exit or the gas pains will be intolerable.

When You Get Home

You will be given some general guidelines of what to avoid and what to do at home. Some of this will be definite, like no sex or anything in the vagina for at least six weeks or when you have your follow up appointment with your doc and get the OK. This means no douching, tampons, or intercourse. You won't be allowed to jog, do any strenuous work or work outs or do even simple sit ups for some time. Usually you'll be told to hold off until the incision has healed up and the bleeding from the vagina has stopped.

You'll also need to stay out of the tub (showers are OK, just be sure you won't slip and you won't be alone if you are still shaky.) No hot tubs or pools either. Your baby will be the heaviest thing you should have in your arms until your physician says otherwise. You will need to stay well hydrated and eat healthy foods. Don't be tempted to get weeks of delivery and carry out food as this will not help you feel better in the long run. Expect to feel a bit constipated. Drinking water and eating healthy will help, but you may need a stool softener as well to help things along. Take it easy. Really! Many women decide to be brave and resume normal activity too soon only to delay their recovery even more. Go slow at first. As the days slip by you'll get more back to yourself and into your new post-baby routine.

Emotional Recovery

Giving birth by any method is tough. Give yourself permission to relax and go ahead and just bask in the glory of new motherhood and enjoy your precious new baby. Don't rush to do it all. It will all be there later, when you are ready and capable of doing it.

Expect some post-baby blues and some crying jags. Hormones are havoc on emotions and if you are disappointed or grieving for that ideal, imagined "normal" birth just remember the goal was a healthy baby and mom. Enjoy these moments and the milestone of becoming a mom!


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