Childbirth is no joke. We moms bring life into the world and it is amazing. After nine months of growing a human in our bellies, we finally get to see their sweet little faces. Many moms say that the do not even remember the pain of childbirth. The reward of holding your baby for the first time is worth any moment of pain…a million times over.
Due to the rare surgery that saved my baby’s life, I had a scheduled cesarean section. My husband and I tried fo many years to have a baby. During a routine annual exam at the beginning of our fertility journey, it was discovered that I had advanced cervical cancer. The removal of my cervix meant that I had to have a cesarean section.
Although I knew how, when, and where I would give birth, I was so nervous. A cesarean section is a major surgery. At the end, I knew I would be recovering from surgery while also trying to care for a newborn. I was also not exactly in “fighting shape” after nine months of bed rest.
Throughout my pregnancy, I spent a great deal at my doctor’s office. I talked to my doctor and all of the nurses about the best ways to heal. All of my mom friends were also thoroughly interviewed. I did my research and developed a plan to recover from the cesarean section as quickly and healthily as possible.
Please note I am NOT a doctor! These tips worked well for me, with my own doctor’s help and advice. Always talk to your doctor about the best and healthiest ways to recover from surgery.
How to Recover from a Cesarean Section Faster
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Before You Give Birth
My cesarean section with my daughter, Madeline, was scheduled, but this is not always the case. I also know the panic that occurs during an emergency c-section. Throughout your pregnancy, it is important to ask questions and communicate your birth plan with your doctor.
I knew that I wanted to breastfeed and asked my doctor to allow me to initiate skin-to-skin contact as soon as it was safe for both of us. My doctor also clearly explained exactly what the surgery would be like and that it would take time to recover. I followed his advice to the letter and asked lots of questions.
After You Give Birth
Channel Your Inner Granny
After your cesarean section, it is important to protect your incision. Your regular choices for underpants are not going to cut it, so to speak. No frills, no lace. Victoria and her secret are going to have to wait. Victoria’s granny, that is who you want.
The hospital may give you enormous mesh underpants that are more like high-waisted bicycle shorts. Hoard these. They are absolutely what you want to wear, especially those first few days.
When you go home, try these c-panties. They have a little panel to cover your incision and provide some much needed added support. It is like what would happen if Granny Panties and Spanx had a baby. These panties are pricey, but I found them to be worth every penny.
Despite my heavy research and millions of questions, I was shocked to discover that the simplest tasks were so difficult after a cesarean section. Like, trying to sit on a toilet or rolling out of bed. In my case, I had been on bed rest for so long that my muscles had atrophied. If you are able to exercise throughout pregnancy, your muscle strength will definitely help after delivering!
With a newborn to care for, I knew that I could not spend twenty minutes trying to find a way to pick her up. I asked for an abdominal brace in the hospital, but it did not provide enough support, no matter how tightly I tried to bind myself.
What I needed was something from the Victoria era. A corset that would keep everything in place so I could actually move without wincing in pain. Lo and behold, just the thing I needed as been re-invented in the modern age.
The Best Support Money Can Buy
I ordered several postpartum girdles to try. This Postpartum Girdle Corset – C-Section Recovery, Incision Healing, Compression Abdominal Binder – Medical-Grade Bellefit Corset was by far the best. The wrap-style bands did not provide nearly enough support. This corset was incredibly supportive and very comfortable.
Wearing this helped my incision heal and helped with my back pain. But most importantly, it helped my abdominal muscles heal. I had no idea that I used my “abs” for literally every muscle movement, or so it felt. In pilates class, the instructor always referred to the importance of developing your core, but this suddenly become much more clear when you are recovering from a cesarean section.
I wore my corset for several months, starting two days postpartum. Not only did I have the support to pee on my own, but I was able to pick up my newborn the second she cried. As an added bonus, I was also able to comfortably slide into my pre-pregnancy jeans after a month. Don’t me wrong, sweats were still my pants of choice, but after nine months of bed rest, wearing my favorite jeans again felt pretty good!
This corset was invisible under clothing, so I was able to wear it both in and out of the house. On Bellefit.com, there is a sizing guide to order the right size for maximum comfort. I ordered two different sizes and giving my extra one to a friend when she had an emergency c-section. I thought I might need to wear a bigger size and then transition to a smaller one, but the suggested smaller size was the perfect fit.
This one thing helped me recover from my cesarean section faster than I ever thought! BrittanyAnneF
Before you know it and before you think you are ready, the nurses will come into your room and tell you that you need to get up and moving. This seems impossible. Everything hurts and you just want to lay there and hold your sweet little bundle of joy. But you have to do it.
Confession, I totally cried as I shuffled to the bathroom for the first time and I have been told I have a high tolerance for pain. It hurt like a mother bear just to try to sit up, let alone swing my legs over the side of the bed and actually stand. However, the next time I got up it was easier. Once I wiggled into my corset, I was doing laps around the maternity wing, pushing my baby in her bassinet. They were sloooowwwww laps, but each time I made it a little farther.
Once you get home, there is no avoiding movement with an infant. Those tiny things are awfully demanding and do not care that you just went through major surgery! Ask for help from your spouse, family, and friends and do not push yourself too hard. But it is important to move a little more each day, as it will drastically speed up your recovery time.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drinking water helps keep you hydrated and push fluids through your system. After my cesarean section, I felt like there was still water sloshing around in my belly. This bloated feeling can be very uncomfortable. Drinking plenty of water actually made me feel less bloated, rather than the opposite.
Water will also…ahem…keep things moving, so to speak. It takes some time to get your bowels moving like clockwork again. Constipation is even more uncomfortable when your belly is already in pain, so drink water and things will move along naturally in no time.
I was not the best at eating right or eating at all sometimes after giving birth! It is actually easy to forget to eat because you are so preoccupied with your new baby. However, you have to keep your strength up as you are recovering from childbirth AND suffering major sleep deprivation.
I learned to eat frequent small meals and to keep healthy snacks on hand during our frequent nursing sections. Have cut fruits and veggies or a handful of almonds on hand at all times. Don’t forget to get your protein fix, as well, as it will help your muscle recovery.
If you are able to cook and freeze healthy portioned meals before you give birth, this will help tremendously. I really should have done this before giving birth! When friends and family ask how they can help, ask them to bring you a healthy meal! My neighbors and I like to do a rotation where we bring a new mom a healthy home-cooked meal each night after the family returns from the hospital. Eating right makes all of the difference for both you and baby!
Get Your Rest
Okay, stop laughing. I know, I know. Sleeping post-baby is pretty darn near impossible. You are not going to get eight hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep, but you do need to rest. If you can pump and allow your spouse to take over a few feedings, you may be able to get a longer stretch of sleep.
While nursing or holding your baby, you can also take some relaxing breaths or listen to soothing music. Those first few weeks especially are so stressful and you worry about everything. You can’t “sleep when the baby is sleeping” because you may be riddled with worry. But try, just try, to relax and enjoy these precious moments with your new angel. You may not “sleep” as much or as often as you like, but you can rest. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to just be still and watch your little miracle sleep. These moments are the most healing of all.
For more tips on how to recover from a C-Section, check out Ashley’s post on Spit Ups and Sit Ups. My favorite is her suggestion for an essentials basket!
What are your best tips for recovering from a cesarean section? Please comment and share below!