Written by Ash Edwards of www.MountainStateMaternity.com
Congratulations, you’ve just had a baby! While you can expect to feel a great range of normal new parent emotions (happiness, overwhelmed, nervous, and sometimes sad), if you have had a cesarean, the process of recovery is a little bit different than a vaginal birth. Whether you planned your c-section or your birth plan changed during labor, it’s great to have a few tricks up your sleeve for that postpartum recovery period.
- Take it easy - but not too easy. It’s true that the more quickly you get up and get moving after a c-section, the more quickly you’ll begin to feel better. But don’t overdo it - you just had major abdominal surgery! Taking easy walks in the mornings can help you get the wind back in your sails, with the added advantage of helping to prevent blood clots and establishing your baby’s circadian rhythm over that first year of life. As time goes on, this will get easier and your body will feel less stiff with more movement.
- Consider belly binding. Whether you can get a postpartum girdle from your doctor, your women's health physical therapist, an online store, or find someone trained in Bengkung belly binding, you should give it a try! There’s something comforting about the gentle squeeze of fabric keeping everything in place, and the compression on your incision site can help healing and reduce scar tissue. But you don’t want something too tight! The goal is to support, not to constrict or cause pain.
- Get a lot of rest and hydrate well. This might seem counterintuitive considering you just had a baby, and some babies boycott sleep in favor of cuddles and eating. As much as I hate to say this, you know that cliche everyone tells you about sleeping when the baby sleeps? They’re right, you really should be resting when the baby is resting, especially during c-section recovery. Everything else can wait, your recovery and your sanity rely on a solid foundation of sleep. As for hydration, this is for any postpartum new mom, especially if you’re nursing.
- Invest in those cute little mesh panties. You know, the ones they give you at the hospital after you have a baby? Or get you some granny panties. There’s totally no shame in rocking the granny panties after having major abdominal surgery, especially when the pads you wear after any kind of birth feel a little like diapers. Either of these options will keep the waistband off of your incision site, which will feel way better and help speed up healing.
- Accept help when it’s offered. This one can be the hardest for a lot of new parents, but it’s one of the most important ones. Whether it’s a hot meal, community meal train, shower time, or a nap, let your friends and family help you in those first few weeks. Rest, nutrition, and support are essential to a successfully peaceful postpartum experience. You can also hire a postpartum doula to help with minor household chores, food prep, and helping you transition into life with a newborn.
There you have it! With these five tips, your postpartum recovery should get off to a great start. Do you have additional tips? Leave them in the comments below!
Ash Edwards is a certified labor doula, postpartum doula, and placenta encapsulator supporting families in North Central West Virginia. She is owner of Mountain State Maternity, based in Morgantown, WV.