Lucy E. Cousins
How to Recover from a Caesarean Birth
Whether you signed up for a planned caesarean or whether that decision was made for you by circumstance, you are not alone. In fact, Australia’s c-section rate just jumped to 34%, which is actually one of the highest in the world. And while the choice might or might not have been yours, one thing is crystal clear the moment you are wheeled back to your room with your bub by your side: you need to focus on your recovery.
As this is International Caesarean Awareness Month, we thought we would explore the best ways to recovery from surgery. We spoke to Amy Dawes, co-founder of the post-natal support charity, Australasian Birth Trauma Association, for her advice. Through her non-profit organisation, she recommends:
Listen to your body
It’s not surprising given the logistics of a c-section that you may experience pain after your operation; how much pain depends on a variety of factors. For most women, any associated discomfort will dissipate three to six months after the birth, however for around 11% of women, this pain may persist longer term. However, the most important thing to remember during your recovery time is that it’s your body, you know better than anyone how it’s feeling and recovering. So it’s important to listen to how you feel; if you think you’re not recovering fast enough or not recovering as you should, then you need to see your doctor.
Focus on sleep… where possible!
OK, we know it’s hard (we’ve been there), but in those first few weeks it’s important to sleep when you can. That might mean not seeing friends or family for “pop ins”, it might mean the washing pile grows higher or it might mean you just have to order dinner in sometimes (or most times…), but any rest you can get will directly impact your recovery. Sleep is when our bodies regenerate and recuperate energy to heal our wounds.
Even if you’re not experiencing any pain, or feeling like you’re recovering well, remember that the wound isn’t just skin-deep. So, every movement you make, from picking up your baby to walking to the bathroom, will affect your internal and external scars. That said, movement is really helpful for recovery (see below) so the aim is to be aware of when you are moving your body and then moving it mindfully – as in, with intention. For example, roll out of bed instead of trying to sit up using your abs, and hold onto armrests and tables to help you stand up (taking the pressure in your arms, not your abdomen) and walk slowly – only carrying very light objects. For how long? Well, that depends on your personal situation, but at least the first few weeks, until you’re starting to feel stronger and in less pain.
Consider your clothing
This is not the time for g-strings or skinny jeans! Best to invest in some comfortable “granny undies” with very high waists that are stretchy (and wear flowing dresses or oversized trackie dacks). Or you could channel your inner Homer and wear a moo moo… Choose anything from your cupboard that won’t rub on the dressing or the wound. If you would like extra support, there are specially created compression garments that are designed to add extra strength to your pelvic area. Make sure you invest in products designed for c-sections as they will allow for your wound and won’t put pressure on areas they shouldn’t. Double check this with your doctor or midwife first, though, and ask their advice for how long you should wear them for each time.
Do “mild” movement
As we said, movement is critical for the recovery of our muscles, skin and internal scars, and while you may not feel like getting up straight away in hospital, your nurses and doctors will start encouraging you pretty soon after your operation. They will want you to at least walk to the bathroom for that first wee (expect a lot of blood – that’s totally normal). Let them know if it’s hurting too much as they can offer pain medication. Once you get home, setting yourself small tasks and challenges will help you gauge how your recovery is going and where your pain levels are at. Again, remember you know your own body, so if you’re worried or it’s hurting more that you think it should, contact your doctor.
Massage your scar
To help your skin and the incision point recover faster, you can also massage the area on your tummy. This is a good way to monitor whether there is any tightness of skin, any sharp pains or if the wound isn’t healing. It’s best to ask your physiotherapist or midwife for the right technique, but it can help to use a few drops of massage oil around the scar until it’s healed. Once your wound has healed over and you’ve checked with your doctor, then you can aim for a massage for three minutes a day, applying medium levels of pressure to the wound and surrounding area.
Img by @tisha.haynes
Thank you for reading the Something for Mumma blog! Do have a topic you’d like us to address or a story you'd like to share? Email us, we’d love to hear from you! And if you’re looking for beautiful, self-care essentials for your recovery, head to our recovery collection today.