After you give birth the focus is on your newborn baby, making sure they are healthy and adjusting your lifestyle for this new addition who is now dependent on you 24/7. However, if you gave birth by a Caesarean Section (C-Section), you also need to remember to take care of yourself while taking care of your newborn. Your body has just undergone surgery and like any other type of surgery, proper healing is extremely important after giving birth via C-Section. The following tips can be kept in mind during the first few weeks home after your surgery.
Tip #1: Wound Care
An uncomplicated C-Section may have you in the hospital for 1-4 nights, and longer if any complications arise. After leaving the hospital, wound care is the next main focus. Keeping your wound clean, dry and exposed to the air when possible during your home care is important.
Your recovery may be much tougher than you anticipate. Give your body up to six weeks to fully heal and closely monitor your wound for any signs of infection. The area at/around the scar may firm or tough, and you may also have numbness or a loss of sensation there initially - that is normal and is part of the healing process. If you experience redness, swelling or pus oozing from the wound, a fever of more than 100.4°F or heavy vaginal bleeding reach out to your doctor immediately.
Tip #2: Rest!
It may seem crazy to tell a new mother to get rest, but after a C-section, your body will need it! This will be easier said than done considering you will have to focus on the demands of your newborn. Make use of having your partner or any loved one being around to offer support to you during this time. Support can be helping with chores around the house or taking the baby off your hands when you’re not feeding. When feeding, ensure that you position your baby in a way that avoids any irritation to the incision area. And most importantly rest when your baby is resting!
Tip #3: Take Care of Your Body
Make sure you don’t put any extra strain on your body during this time. Do not lift anything heavier than your baby or partake in any form of strenuous activity. Continue to eat healthily and drink plenty of fluids as you did when you were pregnant to assist in your body’s recovery. Do light exercises such as walking to ensure you move your body and to avoid issues such as constipation and blood clots. Walking can also be a great way to calm your baby and introduce them to their new world.
It will be normal to feel some soreness on the incision site for a few weeks. Avoid walking up and down stairs often and any movement that you find makes you uncomfortable or causes you pain. You will be able to take medication to help manage your pain but speak to your doctor about which ones are safest to take, particularly if you are breastfeeding.
Tip #4: Take Care of Your Mind
If this is your first child, having to manage the physical stress of healing after surgery and the demands of being a new mother can be not only physically taxing but emotionally overwhelming as well. If you are feeling detached from your baby or helpless, sad and guilty, contact your doctor to discuss further if you may be experiencing symptoms of Postpartum Depression and what options are available to you to work through these feelings. If you just need to talk through all your fears and experiences of being a new mom, have a chat with your loved one or with a therapist to help make you feel comfortable about this new journey.
It may take longer than you anticipated to get back into a normal routine, but that’s okay. It is important not to compare yourself to others who have just given birth or to the timeline of women who have had C-Sections and bounced back quicker than you did. Every body heals differently and you need to ensure you are your best and healthiest self for your baby, on whatever timeline your body gives you.