The hardest part about having a C-section is the recovery. Trying to tend to a newborn baby when you’re finding it hard to move is not only virtually impossible but can make you sad and frustrated.
I’ve had three C-sections and, contrary to what some might say, they did not get easier each time. What got easier was my ability to deal with the pain better. I had a few measures that I put in place to help me recover faster.
5 tips I’ve learned along the way
1. Embrace pain relief
There’s nothing heroic about suffering or pain. You’ve just undergone major surgery. Your stomach has been cut open. When you are offered pain relief – take it. Not only will it help you be able to get up to tend to your baby, it will also help you recover faster.
2. Get moving
The quicker you get out of the bed, the better. By moving around, little-by-little, your muscles will get stronger. But beware — the first time you try and stand up it may feel like your insides are going to fall out. A simple tip is to grab a pillow and gently hold it over your belly and wound, and support the weight of your tummy with it. Once you’re up, try short, slow, gentle walks. Don’t overdo it, though.
3. Ask for help
Don’t try and be a supermum. Line up some family members or friends who could come to the hospital and help you when you need it most. If it’s possible, get your partner to stay overnight to help lift the baby out of his cot. When baby blues set-in on day two or three you will need someone around to support you through it. It can be a really upsetting time, but it will pass. And if you start to find everything too overwhelming, please seek help from a professional.
4. Be organised
Try and have everything you need within reach. Set up a table within easy reach, stocked with a bottle of water, pain relief, tissues, your mobile phone, snacks and anything you might need for your baby. Make sure you have a change table set up and the cot close by, so you don’t have to bend too much. If it makes it easier, pop a plastic chair in the shower to sit on and make sure you have lots of pillows on your bed to prop yourself up. Have some ready-made meals on hand, some special treats for any siblings to keep them entertained and download a few movies to keep you distracted.
It takes up to six weeks for your incision to heal. Driving is also not recommended as twisting and heavy braking can be troublesome. Giving your body time to heal is vital. I know it will be hard with a newborn, but when you can, try and rest. For those first couple of weeks at home, perhaps get a cleaner in or organise play dates for older siblings. Forget about having a tidy house, it doesn’t matter. You could even ask friends and family give you a week at home to recuperate before visiting. It’s important you don’t push it too hard, having a baby is tricky at the best of times.
Just remember each day gets markedly better. It might not feel like it, but you will be up and about before you know it. You’ll be back in your car and you’ll be able to exercise again. It will happen, but in the meantime get as much rest as you can.