C section delivery can be a hard reality for some women. The recovery period can be even more challenging for a mother. Societal expectations and high newborn demands may turn the rather joyful moment to periods of sadness, anger and depression. This is however no time to whine and wish things would happen differently. It happens even to the toughest of women. After delivery, it is important for a mother to take time to allow her body to rest and heal. Depending on many factors, healing time post cesarean section varies. Here are some very important C-section recovery tips to hasten your healing time and avoid common post-partum complications.
For some reason deliveries via cesarean section have become quite common in the recent times. 1 in 3 women give birth via cesarean. For C-section mamas, it may help to have in mind that C-section deliveries happen for a reason. It does not make you less of a mother.
Gas Pains after C Section- Do Not Eat Anything That Will Give You Gas
Do not let excessive gas derail your healing. Gas pain discomfort is a common complaint post- delivery via CS. Excess gas after a C-section presents as pain in the shoulder region. Bowels full of gas press on the diaphragm with pain extending up to the shoulders. In the first 12 hours, stick to a liquid diet which should not be taken using a straw. (Straws cause unnecessary air to enter the stomach and increase bloating). Keep off carbonated drinks. When you begin eating foods, start with small easy to digest foods.
After 12 hours, try walking around. This stimulates bowel movement, helping to relieve gas that has been trapped in the abdomen. Medications such as Simethicone can be used safely to help relieve gassy bowels.
C-Section Recovery Tips for Constipation
Constipation post-delivery via CS can be a pain especially if you experienced this during pregnancy. The thought of exerting effort to expel stool with a raw scar is in itself painful. After a C section, it may take three to four days for your bowels to begin functioning again. Reasons why you feel constipated after C-section include;
- Narcotics given to relieve pain post op may be slowing your digestive system
- The fear of tearing up your stitches while pushing at stool may cause you to hold on to your poo starting a cycle of constipation
Constipation after c section usually goes away on its own. If not, here is how to address the problem;
- Drink lots of water
- Do not ignore urge to empty your bowels. It may be uncomfortable at first but the longer you wait the harder your stool will get, making it even harder.
- Eat high fiber foods such as whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables
- Ambulate as soon as you can. This will help stimulate your bowels
- Get a stool softener.
Do Not Mess Up With Your Incision
The incision scar may scare you at first. You may not be able to know how big and swollen it looks at first- you can’t even see it in the first days. It will however fade and flatten with time. Allow the incision to heal for up to six weeks before you try any scar fading creams or ointments.
Keep the area dry and clean. DO NOT get water or soap over the incision for the first three days. This is the reason why the doctor will not remove your bandage until after three days. Once the bandages are off, DO NOT scrub the incision. Simply let water run over it and pat dry.
Have lots of pillows around you to cushion and support your abdomen. Hold your abdomen during jerky movements such as sneezing, coughing or laughing. Use good posture when you walk or stand. This may be difficult at first but it gets better with time.
Note: Exercise extra caution if you have overactive older kids in the house.
Do Not Bother With Housework
Keep your activity level minimal until your health care provider suggests otherwise. Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby. Let your family and friends handle the housework. Exertion will slow down healing and in the worst case scenario tear up your stitches. Avoid driving for at least three weeks.
Climbing Stairs after C Section
If possible, avoid using stairs after c section- for several weeks. This will give your body time to heal. If you have two floors, set camp in one of them so that you do not have to climb the stairs several times in a day.
If not possible, limit your trips up the stairs and do not carry anything while going up or down. Climb stairs slowly, ask for help and take a break if you feel pain or become tired while using the stairs post CS.
Exercise after Cesarean Delivery
It is advisable to ambulate as soon as you can, if possible within 24 hours after the C-section. Start with short simple movements like walking to the bathroom for instance. You may need a little help from your nurse or relatives. Be careful not to exert any pressure on your incision. Moving around will decrease the risk of forming blood clots and also stimulate your bowel movement.
After the 6 week period, you can start engaging in simple exercises.
What to Eat after C Section
A proper, well balanced diet is as important as when in the months that you were expectant. While this serves to boost the supply of your breast milk, it also makes you stronger faster. According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, a health, nutrition, prenatal and postnatal care expert, you should eat magnesium rich foods like green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Magnesium has anti stress properties that support faster recovery and help you get the much needed rest and sleep.
Roll Out of Bed Instead of Sitting Up
During the first few weeks, roll out of bed instead of sitting up from a supine position. Try to resist sitting up at the sound of your baby’s screams in the night. This will exert internal pressure on the incision. Instead, roll to the side and support yourself up with your arms. When picking something from the ground, squat slowly instead of bending. Bending will weaken the incision and exert great amount of pressure on the lower back.
Abdominal Binder for Faster Healing
Compression garments also known as girdles, corsets or wraps allow you to put bearable positive pain on your middle. It helps alleviate pain and hasten healing. Benefits of using an abdominal binder post C-section include:
- Protecting the incision area from tearing and infection
- Help shrink the uterus and reduce bloating
- Improve mobility
- Support lower back, internal organs and abdominal muscles
- Support the abdomen when coughing and sneezing
- Allows for comfortable nursing
- Flattens the scar and reduces painful adhesions
How long to wait to start wearing an abdominal binder? As soon as your doctor gives an OK. Some women say that they were able to wear a binder after the first 24 hours.
How long to wear an abdominal binder after C-section? Given the variable amount of time it takes to heal from a C-section, an abdominal binder can be used for 2 weeks up to a few months after a cesarean birth. It can be worn up to 24 hours a day. Find a solution that works right for you. Talk to your doctor before considering any binding garments post-delivery.
Emotional Recovery Post C-section
It is normal for most C-section mamas to deal with emotional instability. Women react and adjust differently to a surgical birth. While some recover fairly quickly, others experience various degrees of disappointment, sadness, anger, low self-esteem and depression. Some women may experience a sense of failure and an altered feminine identity which lowers self-confidence.
Expectations, occurrences before and after cesarean section determine how you feel as a mother. If you were expecting a vaginal delivery, it is normal for you to linger over disappointment with questions on whether there is something that you’d have done better. It is important to understand that things may change fast during labor. Understanding the reason why you had to go through the C-section may help with coming into terms with the post C-section situation.
When to call the doctor:
It is normal for the incision site to feel sore for up to six weeks. However, the following symptoms warrant your doctor’s check up as they could be a sign of an infection.
- Throbbing pain around the incision site
- Redness, swelling and pus oozing from the site
- Fever of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
- Foul smelling vaginal discharge
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Chest pain/ breast pain
- Difficulty in breathing
The most important of all C-section recovery tips is not to have high expectations. It is important to understand that a C-section just like any other major surgery needs time to heal. The pain will go away, the scar will fade with time and soon enough you’ll be able to carry out your normal activities. Give yourself up to six weeks before you can start doing anything strenuous- of course it may take longer in case of any complications. Instead, take this time to enjoy the many joys of motherhood just like any other women.
Sources and References
emedicinehealth.com: Cesarean Section
thebump.com: Post Birth Recovery
vbac.com: Emotional Healing after a Cesarean
babycenter.co.uk: Recovery after a Cesarean Section