I know some of you may read this and think, “why do I need to think about my recovery, won’t the doctor and nurses help me with that?”. Yes. They will. But, they shouldn’t be the only ones focused on your recovery. This is YOUR body and YOUR recovery. Taking charge of it will do nothing but benefit you!
Also you may have read a couple of our Instagram post about how our healthcare system is exhausted and doing their very best with what they have and could really use your support right now…
Any who! Let’s take charge of that cesarean recovery!
First, let’s review the basics of a typical cesarean so you know why I chose these 3 tips. Disclaimer: this is discussing typical cesarean deliveries, there are different things that can happen during that would change the outcome. So please always follow the guidance of your health provider.
you will receive a spinal anesthetic that causes you to experience numbness from approximately the neck/nipples down, but it keeps you awake so you can enjoy your baby as soon as they are delivered.
With this numbness, you cannot control your bladder. So, you receive an in dwelling catheter (that means it’s a catheter that stays in for awhile, but not TOO long in your case).
You also cannot move your lower body. So your legs cannot move and it is common practice in many hospital to apply stockings that massage you and prevent your blood from pooling in this area.
During the procedure, an incision is made through multiple layers of skin, fat, the muscle tissue of the uterus and the amniotic sac. During this the abdominal muscles are usually separated to gain access to the uterus, but occasionally (not very often) need to be cut as well.
Okay, moving on to recovery! Let’s discuss my top 3 tips for cesarean recovery.
Get up and walk as soon as you are able to
Keep on top of pain management
Let’s go through the rationale for each.
walking is literally the best thing you could do to recover from surgeries. It promotes blood flow and decreases the chance of clots. It makes you take deep breaths which is great for your lungs. It helps you manage pain. It keeps your heart muscle active. It releases oxytocin which helps your uterus contract, which we want it to do so it gets back to normal size. It also helps your appetite return and start peeing normally again! The sooner you are up and walking well the sooner you get to get rid of that pesky catheter too! It helps your bowels move too. Peeing and pooping is a great thing.
Keep on top of pain management
you will likely be offered Tylenol, Advil and some sort of narcotic for your pain management. Finding the pain management medication that works for you is something you’ll have to do in the moment on your own, unless you have some experience in this department. If so, advocate for the type of pain management that has worked well for you in the past. Regardless of which pills you are taking, make sure you are staying on top of your pain and not waiting to get to the point of severe pain before you treat it. Be proactive! Pain impedes healing because your body needs to focus on the pain instead of the actual injury site. It also causes difficulty with releasing urine, so if your catheter is out you may have a harder time peeing. It can decrease your appetite, decrease your milk supply and, well, it sucks to be in pain obviously! You can’t exactly rest in between feedings if you are in a significant amount of pain.
Initially, you will be hooked up to IV fluids before, during and after the surgery. It is a good idea to start chewing on ice or taking small sips of water right away to start stimulating your stomach again. However, we don’t want to irritate it (that will make you puke). So, it’s not a good idea to CHUG water immediately after your cesarean. But, starting off with small sips or ice chips and progressing as you feel you are able is a great way to start hydrating yourself without the IV and get your digestive system working again. It was effected by that numbing and analgesics used in the surgery as well. It can really speed up the recovery process if you are able to drink water on your own because then you can get rid of your IV fluids sooner. Drinking water is amazing for you in general, but it is also particularly amazing for you with while you are healing and for producing breastmilk as well.
Now, these are definitely not ALL the things you can do to optimize your cesarean birth. We have courses online and in-person that can help you even further! The most relevant services we offer for cesarean preparation AND recovery are:
Cesarean Specific Childbirth Class - hosted at Holistic Institute of Health and Fertility December 18th. This class is a childbirth class focused on cesarean deliveries. We will discuss what to expect, medical interventions, pain management, recovery and how to manage newborn care.
Jess & Lee Prenatal Consultation - provided in-home, virtually or we can arrange in a clinic setting. We address your current questions and concerns about your birth and assist with birth plan creation, postpartum planning, infant feeding preparations and more!
Private Prenatal Crash Course - provided in-home, virtually or we can arrange in a clinic setting. We customize a childbirth education course to your circumstances and concerns for you and your support people. You can also choose to include other expecting families for a larger private class!
Postpartum/Newborn Respite - if you are in Strathmore, Calgary and area, Jess can assist you with your recovery and parenting tasks. She will care for your baby in between feedings, assist you with light housework/meal prep and more! She also offers OVERNIGHT respite to help you optimize your sleep in between feeds.
Cesareans are no joke (I’ve had 2 of them), but they can go quite smoothly when we are proactive.
Have more questions? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Instagram @jessandleematernity ❤️