Delivering your tiny angel into this world comes with a little bit of painful sacrifice. It will go away for a week or two, but until then, you need to endure the distress. Today, there are various birthing alternatives for women with normal pregnancies. But if you have a high-risk one, C-section is the next best option. According to the American Pregnancy Association, more than one in four women may experience the C-section delivery.
Caesarian delivery involves major abdominal surgery that will put you in hospital stay for around four days or longer. It will also present you with more physical discomfort than normal delivery. Around this time you need to baby your body while taking care of your baby. So you should refrain from strenuous physical activities and focus more on your recovery.
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C-Section Guidelines: What to Expect
Women with medical risks, failure to progress on labor, and pregnancy difficulties usually give birth through C-section. But even if you have a healthy and normal pregnancy, you can still choose this delivery method. This is convenient if you don’t want to go into longer labor.
Unless the doctors used general anesthesia, you are likely awake after the delivery to be able to hold your baby. Your nurse will monitor your vital signs and incision for bleeding. We will also remove your catheter the day after surgery. Right after delivery, you should expect a world of pain when the anesthesia wears off. But, the doctor will prescribe painkillers to help you manage it.
While you recover, bleeding, mild cramping, and pain on the wound are normal. However, if you experience heavy bleeding, extreme pain, or fever, you need to contact your OBGYN immediately.
Home Management After C-Section: What You Can Do To Heal Faster
Your hospital stay will depend on how fast your body can recover. But on average, your doctor will discharge you after four days. Now that you are home with your bundle of joy, it’s natural for you to feel anxious especially as you are also nursing a sore tummy.
The first few weeks after birth should be aimed at your full recovery. Not only do women undergo physiological changes during and after pregnancy, but postpartum consequence also affects all aspects of your health. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends optimizing your overall health including your social and psychological well-being. You will need your family, health care provider, and friends to help you navigate through it.
Here’s what you can do to speed up healing:
Get Enough Rest
Plenty of rest is the key to helping your body recover. Forget about the household chores for a while. At this point, you will need a lot of help from your family members. Your baby will demand a lot of your time. So take time to also rest once your baby has settled down.
For the first few weeks, you may find sleeping rather hard for you. If your doctor has given you medication for it, it would be beneficial. But eventually, as you heal, your body will return to its normal rhythm. You just need to take time and limit your mobility for a while. It may take you at least four to six weeks of rest to fully recuperate.
Do: Take time to rest and bond with your baby. You can use this time to take your baby out.
Don’t: Stress yourself out. Avoid using the stairs and driving in the meantime.
Focus on Your Nutrition
Several hours after your C-section delivery, you will rely solely on ice chips and a liquid diet. After which the doctor will clear you to eat solid food. So, most probably the moment you leave the hospital, you are good to eat regular food.
Good nutrition after childbirth is important not only to hasten your recovery, but your baby also needs it if you are breastfeeding. Eat a variety of vegetables and nutrient-packed food. Fiber and easy-to-digest foods are beneficial since constipation is common after delivery.
Do: Eat whole-grains and nutritious food.
Don’t: Crash diet. You will eventually have all the time to get rid of belly flaps. Right now, you need a load of healthy foods.
Do Some Light Activities
Don’t be pissed off when your nurse persuades you to get out of bed the day after your C-section. You just had a major surgery, where’s the empathy? Yes, we understand how bad it hurts. But, if possible, and if your body can afford it, light activities are encouraged. You can get up and walk a few paces around your hospital bed or the bathroom.
Walking around will help you relieve the gas buildup in your belly. When you get home, you need to continue taking short walks. This will prevent constipation and blood clots while helping your body regain its might.
Do: Walk and move around.
Don’t: Make any strenuous activities. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should not lift anything heavier other than your baby.
Take a Shower
Two days after your C-section, you will be able to take a light shower. Showering is important in reducing your risk of infection. It will also help you relax and reduce your stress. You can use lukewarm water to relieve inflammation.
Doctors will usually cover the sutures with sterile strips to prevent it from getting wet. These strips will fall off on its own so there’s no need to worry about that. Also, you can use antibacterial soap, but do not rub it directly over the wound.
Do: Take a light shower daily.
Don’t: Submerge yourself in a bath. You still need to prevent wetting the sutures until the wound is fully healed. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide and other cleansing agents as well.
Manage Your Pain
With a fresh tummy wound, laughing, sneezing, and coughing become your mortal enemy. But sometimes, these actions are inevitable. Your best support is a pillow. You can hold it over your abdomen to reduce the strain. Postpartum belt binders will also provide support for your abdominal muscle.
Lying on your back with an elevated upper body is the best sleeping position. This does not only make it easier to get up, but it is also helpful during breastfeeding. However, sleeping position varies from person to person. Hence, whichever helps you sleep comfortably is up to you. You can always use the benefit of your pillow to your advantage.
If you want to get out of bed, First Cry Parenting recommends turning to your side and propping yourself up with your elbow. Then, you should assume a sitting position and dangle your legs off the bed. These steps will make it more manageable to get out of bed without straining your stomach.
Do: Ask for help and reach out to family members and medical professionals.
Don’t: Rush things. All these discomforts happen only for the first few weeks. You need to be patient and supportive of your body.
Losing Weight After C-Section
After combating the crucial period of postpartum, it’s time to get rid of all those weights you have packed. Right after delivery, you already shed off weight from all that fluids and blood. By the first month, you may lose up to 20 pounds of weight that you gained. And at six weeks, your uterus has returned to its normal size, making your belly look more flat.
A big tummy after delivery is normal. But as you spend the time to recover, it’s very likely that you gain more while you are inactive. The next big step that you have in mind is to start aerobic activities. Exercising postpartum is highly recommended to help you strengthen your core and lose your flabby belly.
The ACOG reminds that a doctor’s recommendation is needed for C-section delivery postpartum exercise. You may start by six to eight weeks when your wound has fully healed. This is also about the right time to resume sex. Remember that just because you stop bleeding and the incision stops aching means you are totally healed. Doctors mark healing from inside the cervix and the uterus, not from just the superficial wound.
Here are other things you can do to reduce your apron belly:
- Eat healthily
- Continue your walking exercise until you can do vigorous exercises
- Use a binder
- Get a post-pregnancy massage
- Drink plenty of fluids
Childbirth is one of the most wonderful things to ever happen to a woman’s life. It packs all emotions from excitement, anxiety, and happiness with a serving of pain on the side. Delivering your child through a C-section can be tough and challenging from day one up to a couple more weeks.
In the first week after delivery, you should just focus on taking care of your baby and your body. You need to eat the right food and do some light activities if possible. It may take a while to get back on your feet and let the wound heal. Avoid stressors and stringent activities so you can speed up healing and recovery.
And while you are taking some time off, ask for support from your family or postpartum support group. Also, reach out to medical professionals through postnatal check-ups. You may be going through a lot, but a village behind you can take a part of the burden off. It’s perfectly okay to ask for some help.
Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She had experiences in handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also used to train in labor rooms and pediatric wards – helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.