Childbirth is an exciting experience. You finally get to meet the baby who’s been growing inside of you for the last nine months. Yet having a baby can also be taxing to your body, especially if you’ve had a cesarean delivery (C-section). You’ll need more time to recover than you would have after a routine vaginal delivery. A cesarean section is the delivery of a baby through a cut (incision) in the mother’s belly and uterus. It is often called a C-section. In most cases, a woman can be awake during the birth and be with her newborn soon afterward. If you are pregnant, chances are good that you will be able to deliver your baby through the birth canal (vaginal birth). But there are cases when a C-section is needed for the safety of the mother or baby. So even if you plan on a vaginal birth, it’s a good idea to learn about C-section, in case the unexpected happens. A C-section may be planned or unplanned. In most cases, doctors do cesarean sections because of problems that arise during labor.
Here are five suggestions to speed up your recovery so you can spend less time sore and tired, and more time bonding with your new baby.
Take Proper Rest: A C-section is major surgery. Just like with any other surgery, your body needs time to heal afterward. Expect to stay in the hospital for 3-4 days after your delivery (and longer if there are some complications), and give your body up to six weeks to fully heal. It’s hard to move into bed for hours on end when you have a baby who is demanding lots of attention. You’ve probably heard the advice from friends and relatives: “Rest whenever your baby rests.” They’re right. Try to sleep whenever your baby naps. Ask relatives for help with baby and housework so you can lie down when possible. Even a few minutes of rest here and there throughout the day you will be rejuvenated.
Take Care of Your Body: Take extra care of your body while you heal. Avoid going up and down stairs as much as you can. Keep everything you need, like diaper changing supplies and food, close to you so that you don’t have to get up too often. Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby. Ask for help from your spouse or a friend or family member. Whenever you have to sneeze or cough, hold your abdomen to protect the incision site. It could take up to 8 weeks for you to get back into your normal routine. Ask your doctor when it’s OK to exercise, go back to work, and drive. Also wait to have sex or use tampons until your doctor permits you. Avoid vigorous exercise, but do take gentle walks often. The movement will help your body heal and prevent constipation and blood clots. Just as you are taking care of your physical health, don’t neglect your emotional health. Having a baby can bring up feelings you never expected. If you feel exhausted, sad, or disappointed, don’t ignore it. Talk about your emotions with your partner, your doctor, or a counselor.
Pay Attention to Good Nutrition: Good nutrition is just as important after you deliver as it was during your pregnancy. If you’re breastfeeding, you’re still your baby’s primary source of nutrition. Eating a variety of foods will keep your baby healthy and help you get stronger. It is proved that eating vegetables while breastfeeding imparts flavors in breast milk that increase your child’s enjoyment and consumption of those vegetables. Also drink plenty of fluids, especially water. You need extra fluids to boost your breast milk supply and to avoid constipation.
Relieve Your Pain: Ask your doctor what pain medicines you can take, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Depending on the level of your discomfort, the doctor might prescribe a pain reliever or advise you to take NSAIDs.
Care After Cesarean Section: If you had a C-section, you will need to take it easy while the incision heals.
Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, and aerobic exercise, for 6 weeks or until your doctor says it is okay.
Until your doctor says it is okay, don’t lift anything heavier than your baby.
You may have some vaginal bleeding. Wear pads. Do not use tampons until your doctor says it is okay.
Hold a pillow over your incision when you cough or take deep breaths. This will support your belly and decrease your pain.
You may shower as usual. Pat the incision dry when you are done.
When To Visit the Doctor: You’ll feel some soreness in the incision and you may have bleeding or discharge for up to six weeks after the C-section. That’s normal. But the following symptoms can be a cause to worry, because they could signal an infection: redness, swelling, or pus oozing from the incision site,, heavy vaginal bleeding, difficulty with breathing,, chest and breasts pain.
Also call your doctor if you feel sad and your mood never seems to lift, especially if you have thoughts of hurting your baby.