how to survive the critical six weeks after a c-section

My Experience

I was in loads of pain after my c-section – barely able to walk or stand up straight doing what they call the c-section shuffle (hunched over and walking very slowly).  I was in the hospital for four days because of my fever and possible infection in my baby.  Fortunately after many courses of meds and blood work her results came back and she was fine – it was just me that wasn’t.

Doing anything at home was difficult because I was so slow, in pain, and not able to really bend or lift.  For at least a month you are slowly improving and it wasn’t until six weeks that I felt more normal.  My abs were also two fingers separated so that made it even worse.

How I Coped

I had to basically sleep almost sitting up and then slide on my back off of the edge of the bed.  Walking up and down stairs, stepping into a bath to take a shower, carrying a baby – all were difficult without supervision or help for at least the first two weeks. I wanted my body back to normal but everything hurt.  If it wasn’t my c-section incision, ab separation, or general pain it was neck/back/shoulder pain from BF’ing, sore nipples and swollen painful boobs.

I researched a lot online to see if other women were experiencing the same things as me which was comforting.  My husband was also understanding and saw how much pain I was in but encouraged me to go outside and walk with him and the baby even though I was more limping than walking and could only go to the end of our street at first.  Of course this is all compounded by the fact that you are getting less and interrupted sleep.  

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12 weeks after birth

The best thing I did was wear a corset – it helped to feel more comfortable because you’re held in tight so you can cough, sneeze or laugh without feeling like you’ll blow your stitches out, but I’d still put my hand over my incision as well for more pressure.  It also allows you to wear any pants (trousers) now because there will be no rubbing on your incision so I could wear jeans.  I don’t know if it is just me but even five months later the skin from my belly button to my incision has been very tender to the touch.  In the beginning it was irritating if anything touched it so the corset helped to protect it as well.  Who knows if it really helps you get your body back faster because I have nothing to compare it to but if your abs are separated it also helps to push them closer together.  So basically it’s a must have.  I wore it from day 11 (my uterus didn’t go down until that day so I was still looking like I was five months pregnant and couldn’t force the corset on yet) for four months basically every day for at least eight hours.  I wore it September to January so I was not overheated or sweaty but I can imagine it being more difficult in the heat.  This is my body and incision after 12 weeks – I continued to wear the corset another month because I needed the support as my abs were still separated and I had no core strength and my skin was still sensitive ( at six months my lower abs are still separated and my skin is still sensitive but only the first inch above my incision).

What I did:

  • Ibuprofen + aspirin – I took these in together every six hours for the first two weeks and then once or twice a day until two months.  My doctor and midwife advised me to take these so ask yours.
  • Arnica tablets – I took these arnica tablets everyday until they ran out to help reduce the bruising and hopefully heal quicker
  • Incision cream – after a month I could touch my incision confidently and started to put cream on it after my morning shower to hopefully help it to heal nicer.  I found Lucas’ Papaw ointment when I lived in Sydney and used it many times before on weird red bumps, chapped lips, and cuts so I knew that it was safe to use on my incision and the doctor said it looked really good at my six week check-up and I’ve never had any issues with redness, puss or oozing.
  • Underwear – I originally bought throw away underwear to wear with the pads but they hit too high and rubbed my incision.  Instead the best ones I found were Victorias Secret Cheeky because they hit me below my incision low enough so they never rubbed or touched
  • Corset/Girdle – I had already researched these when I was pregnant but decided to wait till after I gave birth to see which one I wanted.  I ended up buying the Bellefit Postpartum Corset since I had a c-section.  This was probably one of the best decisions I made it was easy to figure out what size I needed online and it was relatively comfortable.  Why is this so important?  For a couple of reasons: 1. it helps put pressure on your stomach/incision so its easier to sneeze/cough/laugh 2. it stops your pants/jeans etc from rubbing against your incision 3. it helps give you back support and stand up straighter.
  • Baby yoga – I took one class of pregnancy yoga to practice my breathing the week before I delivered so I knew about the baby yoga class offered for new moms already.  Baby yoga means everyone brings their baby from six weeks old and up to do yoga specific for moms who are recovering from birth.  It focuses on your healing breath and strengthening your pelvic floor as well as your transverse abdominal muscles which is good for everyone but especially good for people whose abs have separated like me.  You do interact with your baby during the class and use them as a weight as well.  It’s all very informal and relaxing there is no sweating or posing so it’s not hard-core yoga for people like me. This is the actual mom and baby class I take if you are in the UK.  That’s my baby in her yoga outfit during class 🙂
  • Co-sleeping crib – this was a godsend – it allowed me to have access to my baby in the middle of the night without having to get out of bed which was helpful with night feeds and comforting her without moving her.  I ended up buying the Snuzpod instead of a Moses basket/bassinet even though it seemed more expensive up-front the package deal I got came with the multi-function crib, natural chemical free mattress, 100% cotton waterproof mattress protector, cotton jersey fitted sheet and a blanket.  I had it strapped to my bed with the flap down for three months and then another month with her sleeping in it as below in my room.
  • Husband -he did most of everything the first month except feeding (changing diapers, bathing, cooking, carrying the baby up and down flights of stairs, picking her up etc)

 

How was your c-section?  Do you have any other tips for surviving one?  Let me know below. . .

 

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