The days and weeks after giving birth is a challenging time for the mother, more so if she has had a C-section. This is because in addition to the responsibilities of handling an infant, she needs to also worry about her own after-care. Since C-section is very common, it is easy for us to forget this – but the fact remains that it is a major abdominal surgery and needs proper rest and care to heal fully. However, often times, mothers tend to de-prioritize their own care and give their 100% to the baby. This can have many repercussions on the mom’s body, including increased pain and blood clots.
Top 12 Self Help Tips When Recovering From a C-Section
Are you a mom who has recently undergone a C-section and struggling to take care of self while being pulled from all sides? Read on for 12 tips that you can handle yourself, thereby ensuring a proper recovery from your surgery.
- Rest: As we mentioned before, you have had a major surgery. It is important to give your body enough time to rest and heal. We know that you cannot deny your new duties as a mom. But for every other tasks and chores, delegate. Ensure you have a proper support system to take care of your household activities while you focus on just yourself and the new-born. If you have an older child, make sure he gets your time too. But find other ways to engage him so that you do not physically strain more than necessary. Please understand that we are not suggesting a full-time bed rest. You need to be active to heal faster. But make sure you set some limit to the activities and rest your body too
- Avoid exercise: We know you will be anxious to shed the extra weight you have gained during pregnancy. You would also be told by all and sundry that it is difficult to lose weight if you have had a C-section. We want you to not worry about it right now. In fact, your doctor will also advise you against even medium-impact exercises in the first 45 days (which is the estimated time taken for the stitches to heal fully). At the same time, remaining on bed all day is not a good idea as well. Be active, but avoid strenuous exercises. For instance, you can do Kegels, which does not require to move about a lot, but at the same time helps in strengthening abs and pelvic region. Read about them here
- Walk: Walking is a great way to be active. You might find it difficult even to walk to wash room in the beginning. But if you do not walk, it will hamper the blood circulation and result in the formation of blood clots. Walking also aids good bowel movement. So take short slow walks frequently throughout the day. The fresh air might help you feel better overall as well!
- Drink: Constipation and gas are two common side effects of getting a C-section. This is why it is recommended that you drink lots of water throughout the day. You need not restrict yourself to plain water. You can also drink fruit juices or eat fruits directly. It will not only help to soften your stools and make bowel movements easy, but also help in keeping yourself hydrated while nursing
- Take care of the scar: The scar might turn itchy when the healing starts. Please talk to your doctor in advance about this and get her to prescribe a good cream or lotion to soothe the itching. Some people also suggest that gently massaging the scar can help it to flatten quickly, but make sure you discuss this with your doctor before attempting. Read more on C-section scar care here
- Eat healthy meals: You should think about what you are eating not only to ensure you do not end up with more gas or constipation, but also to ensure you get proper nutrients and energy required to do your day-to-day activities. What you eat is also passed to your child through breast-milk, which is another reason to pay attention to what goes in. So pick meals that are balanced, fiber-rich and nutrients-packed
- Don’t lift heavy weights: You can definitely carry your baby. But avoid lifting anything heavier than the child, especially an older child. You should ideally avoid all household works that require lifting weights too (like carrying a bucket full of water). Your abdominal muscles are still very loose and straining them might result in some of the inner stitches breaking
- Breastfeed right: Breastfeeding is one of the most important tasks you have during this period. Make sure you are sitting comfortably while nursing, with pillows propped up behind you and on your sides for support. We want to reiterate the importance of good posture here because many at times, moms tend to disregard her own pain to feed the baby. There is a way for both you and the child to be comfortable while nursing. Talk to a lactation consultant if your stitches are hurting too much while sitting up to breastfeed. Read more on breastfeeding with a C-section here
- Take care of your emotions: If you are feeling sad or depressed, it is totally understandable. Your body is going through numerous hormonal changes and mood swings are part and parcel of the game. However, you might also be feeling discontent about having to go for a C-section (if it was an unplanned one) as opposed to a normal delivery. Understand that the doctor takes a call that is best for both the mother and child – there is absolutely no need to feel disappointed. Talk to a close friend or family member about how you feel. Hearing and reading about other moms’ experiences can also help. Postpartum depression? Know about it here
- Keep things close: A very practical thing to do during the initial weeks is to keep everything you require at a close distance. This could include baby’s change of clothes, nappies, wet wipes, nipple shields, water bottle etc. Getting up, that too in a hurry, from a lying down position can be a painful affair. The lesser you jerk the muscles the better
- Ask for help: In about 2 months, you will adorn the role of a superwoman in the house. But till then, do not hesitate to ask your friends and family for help. There is no shame in asking a neighbor to take your older child for a play date. Or getting your mom cook dinner for you. Or having a friend over to just pour out your feelings. People close to you most likely want to help, but do not know how to. So ask for help!
- Be alert to signs of infections: While your stitches should heal uneventfully, watch out for the following signs of infections and call your doctor if you notice them:
- Swelling or bleeding near or on the stitches
- Increasing pain
- Difficulty passing urine
- Smelly vaginal discharge