Top tips for recovering from your Caesarean
A Caesarean is not just birth, it is major surgery, and your physical recovery can take a long time. Here are my top tips for a smoother rehabilitation:
Keep up with your painkillers. Don’t make the same mistake I did and stop taking them because you’ve had a good morning - it will just hurt more later. Stick the the schedule your doctor has given you, and slowly extend the time between each dose after a few days. And if it still hurts and painkillers aren’t getting through after a week or so, go back to your doctor and ask them to check you over. It’s not worth suffering.
Try not to be squeamish. I felt really weird about touching my scar, but you do need to keep it clean and dry. Once you are able to show, gently wash it with warm water, then either lie down so it can air dry or pat it dry with a towel. You may have all sorts of weird sensations across your skin as your nerves knit back together, ranging from tickling to tingling and sharp pains, but the more you touch it the quicker your body will heal.
Carry a cushion. Choose a cushion and carry it with you wherever you go. In the car hold it across your stomach and put the seatbelt over the top to protect your scar. Hold it tight against you when you’re moving around in the first few days - it will stop it feeling like your insides are falling out and will help your abs learn what to do again.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drinking lots of clear fluids will help you to pee and poo more easily, as well as encouraging milk production if you are breastfeeding. I kept up my fluid intake by using soluble painkillers in a pint of water - then I knew that as a minimum I had drunk a pint every 4 hours.
Pull on something when getting out of bed. As you won’t be able to use your abs to heave yourself out of bed (or off the sofa), you’ll either need someone to help pull you slowly up each time, or to rig up a support system. The best thing I’ve seen is to get someone to tie a bed sheet or towel around the end of the bed near your feet, and then you pull on that as you get up. When getting out of bed, you can also try rolling to one side before swinging your legs over the edge and sitting up.
Keep your feet and legs moving. There is a risk of blood clots when recovering from surgery, especially if you’re resting a lot. When you’re lying or sitting down, try writing the alphabet with each foot every so often, to keep the blood flowing. When you’re able to, try going for a short walk once or twice a day.
Wear big pants (or none at all). I mostly wore loose dresses with Giresh’s boxers on underneath whilst I was recovering! Whatever you choose to wear, make sure it’s not going to rub on your scar or cut into your belly at all.
Check for infection. Make sure either you or your partner takes a look at your scar a couple of times a day to check for infection. If it looks red, has come apart, has a bad smell, feels very hot, or you’re just not sure it’s ok, please do go and see your doctor, midwife or GP as soon as possible.
Get breastfeeding support. If you choose to breastfeed, it can be a little trickier at first if you've had a Caesarean. Contact a breastfeeding counsellor or support group to learn how to make things easier, including the most comfortable positions for feeding in.
REST, REST, AND MORE REST! This is honestly the most important thing you can do. Accept that you have undergone something huge, and rest. Find a comfy spot and stay there for the day unless you need to go to the bathroom or want to go out for a gentle walk. Don't do the washing, don't make yourself a snack, and don't run to answer the landline. Sit back, try to relax, enjoy time with your baby, and let someone else do the work. Ask for help when you need it and don't be worried about inconveniencing whoever you're asking - you wouldn't ask for help if you didn't need it.