C-Section Preparation & Recovery
In this post, learn a few simple things that helped Morgan as she prepared for and recovered from her recent C-section.
Hi everyone! It’s been 4 weeks since my scheduled C-section with Poppy and I am happy to report that recovery has been SO much better than I anticipated. I feel great and credit that to the specific things that I did to prepare for and recover from my C-section. I am sharing all of those details below in hopes that it will help some of you as well!
Even if you are not planning to have a C-section, I firmly believe that everyone should be knowledgeable about them. After a simple vaginal delivery with my first child, I blindly prepared for the same with my second child which ended up in an emergency C-section.
I knew absolutely nothing. For instance, did you know that you still bleed after a C-section?! I was pretty surprised when I ended up in the same mesh undies and flotation-device style pad that I had after my vaginal delivery!
I really struggled after that C-section and think I would have been a lot better off had I been more knowledgeable. Unplanned C-sections can happen for many different reasons and you’ll feel much better if you understand what’s going on! A great place to start is Babes to Babies’ C-section overview in her Instagram highlights.
ONE MONTH IN ADVANCE
- Understand how your doctor and hospital handle things like pain management and skin-to-skin time post-surgery. Ask questions and do your research so that you can make requests if you would like anything handled differently from their normal protocol.
- Stay active! You will be so glad you did.
- Work with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist to prepare your body and manage some of the discomfort you’re undoubtedly feeling. (If you’re in Atlanta, Charlotte or Denver, I highly recommend @the.revelle!)
- Get support systems in place. Coordinate family and friends to help you. As you go about your day, keep a running list of things that someone else could help you with as you recover. This way, when people ask how they can help, you’ll be ready! Some ideas:
- Outings for your older children
- Pet care
- Grocery shopping and errands
- Leverage social media to help prepare and educate yourself! There are some really great accounts, run by certified professionals, that are dedicated to helping women prepare for and recover from childbirth.
THE WEEK OF
- Hydrate. This will be a common theme!
- Loosen things up. Having a bowel movement after surgery can be one of the hardest parts of recovery. Staying uber-hydrated will help, but I also found starting to take Miralax and Colace a week before surgery to be very helpful too.
- Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk!
- Set up a cart with everything that you’ll want to have within reach for yourself and baby! This keeps everything in one place and a cart with wheels allows you to easily roll things from room to room. Some things to include:
24 HOURS BEFORE
- Carb-load right up until the liquid/solid cut-off time assigned by your doctor! You will not be able to eat for a long time after surgery and carbs will stick with you. They will also help your body with recovery.
- Do not eat or drink anything after the cut-off time! They take this one pretty seriously. My sweet friend was starving and had a few almonds after her cut-off time. Her surgery had to be pushed back 8 hours!
- If you have any requests around how you want pain management, skin-to-skin, etc. handled, be sure to tell your entire medical team — your nurses, anesthesia team and doctor.
- Be confident in all of the prep work that you’ve done and in the medical team that you’ve selected!
- Get ready to meet your little one!
THE FIRST 24-72 HOURS
- Get up and walk as soon as you’re able. This has so many benefits to your recovery including helping with swelling, gas and bowel movements.
- Keep hydrating! You will likely be very swollen. The more water you drink, the faster the extra fluid causing the swelling will go away. Bonus points for adding electrolytes to your water too.
- Put your compression socks on as soon as you’re able.
- Keep things loose. The hospital will give you gas medicine and stool softeners. I also brought Miralax with me and found it helpful. Movement and water are also key here!
- Stay on top of your pain management. The pain will sneak up on you, so take whatever pain management medications you’ve decided to use on schedule.
- Have carb-heavy food ready for you as soon as you’re allowed to eat again. I brought a sub-sandwich to the hospital and it ranks as one of the best meals of my life.
- Let your partner and nurses handle the diaper changing and basic baby care so that you are not doing any lifting, bending or twisting.
THE NEXT FEW DAYS/WEEKS
- Keep moving. Take slow, short walks.
- Do not overdo it! This may seem contradictory to the above, but there is a line between moving enough to support recovery and moving so much that you compromise recovery. The line is different for everyone, so start small, give it a few hours to see how you feel afterwards and work your way up from there.
- Stay regular. Having regular bowel movements will make you feel significantly better during recovery. I found continuing to take Miralax and Colace daily to be very helpful.
- Apply ice packs to your incision to help with swelling and pain.
- Learn and use techniques for regular movements (moving from sitting to standing, getting out of bed, getting in/out of the car, etc.) that are designed to minimize pain and provide maximum support. @expectingandempowered has some awesome video tutorials on this!
- Wear supportive clothes. I personally love Baobei’s Sculpt & Recovery Postpartum Leggings, Bloomers and UpSpring’s C-Panty.
- SLEEP. Nope. Not kidding.
- If you’re one of those blessed people who can “nap when the baby naps”, I envy you and urge you to do it!
- If you’re like me and haven’t taken a nap since a late night in college necessitated it, what do you do?
- You will be amazed at what a difference just 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep can make!
- What works well for our family is my husband taking the first middle of the night feeding some nights. Other people being able to feed your baby is one of the big benefits of introducing bottles early (even just for occasional use).
- I stopped pumping in the middle of the night and have found that my supply has been okay. I’m uncomfortable come morning, but it beats pumping in the middle of the night. If you need to pump, set an alarm to wake you up after 4 (maybe even 5!) hours.
- This is also where Moms on Call’s 0-6 Month resources come in! Everyone will be sleeping through the night before you know it!
- Use your support system and let people help you! Take them up on their offers to bring meals, run errands for you, take your older kids for a few hours, etc. People do truly want to help and when else are you going to have an excuse to take a nap in the middle of the day or binge-watch Schitt’s Creek?!
THE NEXT FEW MONTHS (once approved by your doctor)
- Work with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist to help your body recover fully and correctly.
- Continue to follow Moms on Call’s methodology to keep those predictable, consistent routines in place and enjoy watching your baby grow!
- Ease back into things and give yourself grace!