Top 5 C-Section Recovery Tips
So this post is in honor of Evey who just had her beautiful baby and joined the c-section gang! I wanted to do a post about my recover anyway, but to be honest, breastfeeding eclipsed my memory of my recovery so much. That I was dragging me feet to write this. Like really dragging.
So finally, I thought long and hard about what my recovery looked like. To be honest, it was so much adjusting to having a baby that I didn't dwell on the fact that I had just been cut open.
Too graphic? Because that is how my husband describes what happens to me. He loves to remind me that my son's birth was not "less than" as it feels. But, I prepared for FORTY WEEKS (and 5 days, but who's counting?) to give birth "traditionally"...anyway, I won't get into that again lol.
I knew what to do with the baby, but I had not prepared for the postpartum care of myself. Especially not care of a c-section. Some major points of the c-section that I remember:
a catheter (I peed? 😂 )
a machine that massages your feet post-op to prevent blood clots
800 mg of advil every 6 hours
(optional, but I opted out of it) percocet or variation of a schedule 2 narcotic for pain
laying in bed a lot more than I anticipated
And (something that is a part of every birth) constant interruptions from different hospital staff members. (Let's weigh the baby. Check mom. Need food? Want a picture taken? We'll come back. Lactation nurse. Time for meds. Has baby been checked? Just OMG).
My Top Five C-Section Recovery Tips
Pee often (which will mean more walking, so then, please see #1 again).
Do not stress your milk. (ohhhh boy, do I have chronicles coming about breastfeeding. Stay tuned.)
Ask for help when you WANT (not, need) IT
Take your medicine and take care of you.
Post-op wasn't horrible. I recently likened it to being sore after leg day. Yes, it hurts. Yes, you want to avoid moving. But guess what, you still have to. So whether it means walking in a funny manner or not, you have to power through it. That's what my c-section felt. My stomach was tender. When I laughed heartily, it hurt. When I laughed just a little, it hurt. When I sneezed, it felt like my stitches were going to pop out. All while trying to tend to the loveable monster I had kangaroo'd away in my gown.
But when you walk, you must walk upright. It requires core strength to move, so be patient with yourself since you were just cut open (do we need the image again?). Walking upright will just help you to get back to normal and help your body to heal by keeping those muscles engaged and active.
The removal of the catheter is done either when you are still numb or in a manner where you cannot feel it because I do not remember any discomfort. But, OH EM GEE. I cannot stress this enough. If you hold your pee, it will get full. And guess what is right above your bladder? Your brand new stitches from where you were SLICED OPEN. So when your bladder gets full, you are now in MORE pain than needed. Then, you have to walk to the bathroom, and, no matter how far, walking upright with a full bladder is torture. So, pee before you go to sleep, pee when you wake up, pee so that you do not have the urge to pee a lot at one time. And hey, you'll get plenty of walking in which will help you recover.
Do not stress your milk
Boy oh boy. Have I got loaddddds of breastfeeding knowledge to drop on you. (Coming soon in a series of breastfeeding posts.) But first let me tell you that as a first time mom, your milk takes a while to come in. Then, almost like a true gang initiation, your milk takes longer to come in after a c-section. Then, because women are constantly being tortured, milk is tied to your hormones and stress prohibits prolactin (the breastfeeding production hormone). I did read articles about pumping out your colostrum at 36 weeks, but I did not do it as we (read: I, with the help of family) moved while my husband was deployed and that was enough stress by itself.
Apparently there is a saying that when you cry, your milk will finally come in. In reality, you might get emotional (rush of hormones) when your milk is coming in. I do not remember that. In hindsight, I felt like my milk took weeks to come in. It actually took 6 (SIX!) days according to a text I sent a friend. That was forever in my world, but my son survived (and got supplements of formula after we would nurse for about two months). I don't think I was making enough milk for him until October because he was born so big, I was constantly striving to increase my production. Tips to follow on that soon!
Ask for help when you want (not, need) it
Let's forget everything else about childbirth and being a woman and jobs and maternity leave and independence. You, a human, just brought forth another human from your body. So if you want chickfila right after you gave birth because you haven't eaten in 14 hours and it's what you're craving, ASK FOR IT. If you want to get extra pillows for your bed where you will be confined for the next couple of weeks while you heal to be picked up from Target's amazing Drive-Up service, ASK FOR IT. If you want to pump and someone else take over a feeding so you can sleep, LET THEM KNOW SIS! This is a time, if no other, to be patient with yourself and take care of you. Again, you cannot pour from an empty cup. You cannot light another candle if your flame is out. You cannot care for your new little human if you are not properly cared for. (And btw, diet is a key factor in breastfeeding as well.)
Take your medicine.
It is not a challenge to see who can go the longest without medicine. You do not win an award for suffering in silence because you don't want to take your medicine. There will be a day when you forget to take your medicine because your body is healing and becoming less dependent on it, but do not rush it. It will happen. And while in the hospital, if you have to set a reminder in your phone for the first two days, TAKE YOUR MEDICINE. A strong reminder that my medicine was wearing off was when I had to pee and I wanted to cry I was in so much pain (see #2 again). But in the hospital is where it is when it is most important. If something is wrong when medicated, now is the time to tell people. I opted out of the tablet to make you have a bowel movement because I didn't think I needed it. I opted out of the scheduled drugs because I felt okay. Trust your body and trust yourself. You will heal. You will recover. And you will have an easy answer when you sweet little babe asks you where babies come from. (Hello, you see this scar?? That's where! 😂 )