Top Recovery Tips For C/Section Mums - From Real Mums.
However you birth your baby, you need to honour the amazing job you have done growing and bringing your baby into the world. Rest and recovery are a priority. If you have a C Section, this means major abdominal surgery, so it’s important to get the support you deserve from your loved ones to allow you to rest and snuggle your sweet new baby and establish breastfeeding - this can take a wee bit longer after Csection surgery. If it’s an option financially, a post-natal doula can be a god-send to support and care for you and your new family. Above all, please be as gentle and kind to yourself as you are to your baby.
We have asked our Boobie Foods Mums who had Csections for their best tips to help with the first days and weeks. Please pick and choose the tips that feel right for you:
“I would encourage any soon to be Mum to ensure they are aware of what a C-Section will actually entail. I find so many Mums are prepared for labour and what that means, where it will happen, who will be present in the room but very few are ready for an emergency C-Section and the process of that shocks them. They are not aware that it means they will be in Theatre with an abundance of hospital staff present which in itself can be scary, particularly if it’s unexpected."
"Push for skin on skin as soon as you can. I had the midwives wheel my whole bed to the special care nursery so I could be with my son. Do not feel like you did anything wrong having a c section, they are terrifying and painful and no less giving birth then the other way. You are amazing and strong and brave, be kind to yourself.”
“2x Emergency C-section Mama here. During surgery I experienced uncontrollable shaking of my upper body and vomiting which scared the heck out of me but, as I discovered, is very common and totally normal. I would have been less freaked out had I known this was a possibility. Also, if for whatever reason you are unable to experience skin to skin with your bub immediately, it really sucks and can be incredibly upsetting BUT please know that your bond and feeding relationship IS NOT ruined”
“Ask the staff to move the table that they weigh baby on up near your head so you can see your baby as soon as they come into the world instead of baby being checked over out of your view.”
“Don’t be worried and disappointed. It still gets to be beautiful and wonderful. I loved my c-section and I’m excited for my next one. As long as you have help afterwards, it’s a lovely excuse to just snuggle and rest.”
“if you have more than one child, try not to be too sad about not having time for them, the balance eventually returns.”
Stay on top of your pain medication (and laxatives!) Please don’t try and be a hero, there are no medals for putting up with pain. In case you are anxious that pain meds might affect your baby through your milk, there are safe meds to take while you are breastfeeding and by staying ahead of your pain as advised by your carers, you will be able to rest and move more, so you are supporting your recovery. However, also remember that pain meds will mask your pain so take things gently and don’t lift anything heavier than your baby for at least the first six weeks (be guided by your health carers).
“Start taking regular aperients sooner rather than later! Don't wait till the 4th day to suddenly realise you are very constipated! Increase water intake."
“Take the laxative! All those pain killers do bad things to those first few toilet trips.”
“Drink as much fluid as possible when your catheter is still in! “
“Eat low gas foods for the first days, try Boobie Broth, it's organic chicken and vegetable broth with all natural lactogenic ingredients, it's nice and gentle on your stomach and easy to digest.”
“Don't hold on until you are desperate to pee, it will hurt more than the surgery! Get up and have a shower as soon as you can and don't worry about the gush of blood when you stand up - it is normal. It will hurt to poop - eat a few prunes the day before surgery.”
“Heat pack and pressure, the nurses gave me a hot blanket in recovery folded up small to press firmly on my tummy and it helped soooo much. Make sure you have a pillow to hold if you need to cough, sneeze or laugh and for the car trip home. Take the pain relief and get up as soon as you can but take it easy and slow.”
Support your belly. Hold your lower belly or hold or hold a pillow against it when getting up and down, sneezing or even laughing. Use Tubi- grip (it’s a stretchy wrap for core support), a belly wrap or compression tights to help with muscle separation and core support. Ask for an extra Tubigrip bandage if they have any at the hospital so you can air them out and alternate.
“A sanitary pad across the wound protects it from pressure or pain from clothing ( just in the beginning) and it may sound gross but do the first wee standing up in the shower so you don’t have to worry about sitting down/getting back up. Trust me, I have had three c-sections.”
“And no funny jokes! Laughing hurts when recovering!”
Plan meals beforehand. Regardless of how you will be having your baby, it’s always a good idea to freeze meals beforehand, especially warm, nourishing foods such as soups, bone broths and stews that will help your body heal. Have a full water bottle and snacks that you can reach while you are resting or feeding – set up a feeding basket and if you have a helper, ask them to make sure your feeding basket is kept refilled.
See a pelvic/woman’s health physiotherapist for pelvic floor and core rehab. There should be a hospital physio you can see before you leave hospital. And if you have the resources, see one prior to starting exercise (at around eight weeks post-partum). It’s not just the mode of delivery, but having a’ bowling ball’ sit on your pelvic floor for 9 months, that impacts your body.
“Make sure you ask to see a physio in hospital and get them to teach you how to get in and out of bed correctly (public hospitals have physios that specialise in maternal health onsite).
“Stand up and walk around as soon as possible, it makes all the difference!”
“Research about scar massage and ask your OB how soon you can start.”
High Waisted undies are your friend! Pack comfy cotton undies, that fit well with elastic above your scar. For your vaginal blood loss, try ‘Partum Pants’ or Depends (incontinent pants) .
“Use a hair dryer on a cool setting to dry your cut after a shower, then place a pad horizontally across inside knickers to stop any rubbing.”
Find comfy feeding positions: This will vary for each woman, so please experiment and find what works best for you. Try Feeding your baby lying down on your side with baby next to you; try lying back propped on pillows; or, sitting up with your baby in a football hold, lying on a pillow under your arm, with his feet behind you, so your baby isn’t resting against your scar. While some mums suggest a feeding pillow can help provide stability and comfort when feeding and keep baby from pressing on their wound, others felt it created pressure on their wound. If you do use a pillow for breastfeeding, please take care that it doesn’t impact your baby’s position at the breast,
“Research the safe sleep 7 and learn to feed in side-lying position. Hire an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) before birth and have them on call.”
“Get up into a chair to feed once you feel able. Forget the standard curved breastfeeding pillow it will be leaning on your wound. Try a normal bed pillow under each arm.”
Ask for help. This is one of the hardest things for every mum as you transition from child-free independence to feeling vulnerable and fragile after having a baby, regardless how you have birthed. Remember, a belly birth is major abdominal surgery; growing a baby means you will have a placenta wound as big as a dinner plate and this will take several weeks to heal. The early days and weeks are hard as your hormones fluctuate and your body adjusts to the shocks, so ditch your fears about asking for help from hospital staff or friends and family. You are never intruding by reaching out - most people feel privileged to be involved with a new little family.
“Have your partner or friend stay with you the first night in hospital. I couldn’t move to pick up my baby or change his nappy and had to rely on the nurses to come and help me. I felt so helpless and in hindsight I wish I made my partner stay the night.”
"On the first night, make sure the bassinet is in arms reach so you can pick up your baby...midwives are often busy and can't get to you straight away. I couldn't reach my baby when it was crying, and we both became distressed."
“Get lots of help from the nurses/midwives in the hospital with all the practical tasks. Keep up with the medicines they give you, keep taking them around the clock, including overnight and including after you leave the hospital. Go easy on yourself in terms of getting back to “normal” - rest a lot in the first few weeks post c section. Plan (if you can!) to have help with everything at home. Get help with housework, with older children, with everyday tasks!”
"Don’t let the hospital push you out. Get as much rest as you can especially if you have little kids at home because it isn’t easy!"
Seek counselling. If you feel disappointed or traumatised by your birth experience, please talk to your GP and ask for a referral to a psychologist (funded by Medicare if you are in Australia) or a counsellor who specialises in postnatal adjustment, anxiety and depression– don’t wait until you fall apart.
"Ask for help!! The first few weeks post a c-section are tough and even the strongest most independent mums out there will need support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and show your emotions. I had an unplanned emergency section with a general anaesthetic and it’s emotionally tough BUT you can and will get through."
"Be prepared that a Caesarean section is a possibility no matter how positive or good you have been feeling. All I heard was negative info about a c-section before I gave birth & it really made me & my partner nervous so that when it came to having one, we were so worried. I had to go under for mine & missed the "golden hour" which made me feel terrible. Despite what I'd heard before I was able to breastfeed with no issues & had the most amazing connection with my daughter. She's 18 months old now & we're "still" breastfeeding. I feel so passionate about changing the perception of a c-section."