Every woman’s birthing story is different. I had ZERO idea that I would end up having a c-section with Nugget. (With Peanut, I was prepared and knew ahead of time.) While I believe there IS SUCH A THING as over preparing (e.g., reading all the horror stories on the internet), I also feel it would have been helpful to know certain things ahead of time.
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**ALSO: I am not a medical professional and I am not dispensing medical advice. I am a mama sharing my own personal experiences with my c-section recovery. If you have any questions or concerns, please ask your doctor. Just had to throw that out there. Thanks!**
1. Ask for the belly binder.
I am SO GLAD my sister-in-law mentioned this to me (three days after having Nugget)! Apparently, it would have been helpful to have had it on from the beginning, but no one at the hospital ever brought me one (and I was ignorant of its existence, so didn’t know to ask). If you are in the U.S., I am assuming this would be covered by insurance and would be provided by the hospital. If not, here is a link to one:
For me, it was slightly uncomfortable (think of trying to stuff biscuits back into a can after they’ve been sprung)…but it also provided much needed support. Literally.
2. STAY ON TOP OF YOUR PAIN MEDS.
In my normal everyday life, I am generally a person who prefers not to take medication. That being said…
TAKE THE DARN MEDS. At least during those first few days postpartum. The nurses were pretty good about giving me my meds on time, but this mama was definitely on top of it! A c-section is no joke. The pain afterwards is no joke either but is *somewhat* manageable with the proper medication.
The first few days, I was filled with euphoria (and perhaps that was why I really didn’t feel any pain). After I got home…well, that was a different story. Interestingly, both times, the hospital had told me that I could get a refill of my pain meds, no problem. (Both times, I was denied.) So…once you get home, take stock of how many pain meds you have and use them wisely. (Of course, depending on where you live, your experience may be different.)
3. Go easy on the prune juice.
Hilarious but true story. Prior to having my first c-section, I was told (correctly so, by the way) that the hospital will not let you go home until you have urinated and defecated post op. I had read horror stories about women struggling with constipation after surgery so when I heard that prune juice was an option, I ordered an extra large glass. Then I sent Hubs to get me another glass. I chugged both like there was no tomorrow.
I went #2 so many times that it hurt. Please don’t do what I did. When we know better, we do better. Everything in moderation.
Potty tip #2: If you are having trouble urinating, try blowing bubbles through a straw into a glass of water. Best tip one of my nurses gave me!
4. Don’t overdo it.
Between the euphoria of having a brand new baby, finally being home, and seeing the sun for the first time in a week, I UNWISELY decided to take Nugget for a walk along with Sox (our dog). I lifted the stroller by myself down the stairs, saddled up the dog, and away we went. I felt fine mentally…but my body had other ideas. (I ended up bleeding a bit, TMI.)
When they say it’s a two week recovery…they really mean it. No lifting or strenuous activity. Even if you feel fine, like I did!
5. Kick the visitors out.
Ok, this one sounds a bit harsh but I seriously wish someone had told me this one. During those first few days at home, we had eager family and friends descend en masse upon us to visit our newest little member of the family. Sleep deprivation, juggling breastfeeding, and trying to be a good host caught up me. One minute I was standing upright…then next, I was doubled over in pain. I was exhausted, the pain meds had worn off, and I simply needed everyone OUT.
It’s ok. I think people (especially those who haven’t had a c-section) don’t realize or understand what is involved in recovery. It’s ok to ask people to leave and to rest! They can always come back later.
6. Rest when baby sleeps.
This one gem of advice might get some eye rolls when baby is older…but during those first 4-5 weeks, when baby is sleeping 20+ hours per day…DO IT. Get some rest, even if you aren’t actually sleeping. Sit or lie down, put your feet up, rest your mind, and rest your body.
Of course, this may be nearly impossible to do if you have an older child in the house (especially a toddler). But if you have the opportunity to rest, please, please take it. You will need it!
7. Do lots of skin to skin.
Snuggle and love on that baby as much as you can! Skin to skin is AWESOME for baby (feels your heartbeat, regulates breathing, feels safe and secure and loved) but I’m pretty darn sure it’s just as beneficial for Mama.
8. Ask for help.
If you are anything like us, you don’t have a whole lot of support in your life. HOWEVER…during those first few days (and even weeks), people will most likely want to come and see the baby. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY FOR HELP. Most friends and family are willing and happy to help but may not know how.
Not sure what to ask? Here are some examples:
- Bring food
- Do a grocery run
- Play with toddler
- Walk the dog
Note that I did not list anything involving the baby, LOL. Most people want to come and hold the baby…which is great! (But probably not the kind of help a new mom actually needs.) New mamas need time and space and support for bonding with baby, breastfeeding (if that’s what she has chosen to do), and healing. Mamas with other children need help tending to the older children. Even though your world has just been turned upside down (in the best way possible), LIFE STILL GOES ON. Meaning…meals must be eaten, clothes must be washed, the household must still run. So don’t be shy, Mama. Ask for help taking out the trash or entertaining your toddler or throwing in a load of laundry. Most people will be more than happy to help!
9. Wear the belly binder.
You are home, you have settled into your new reality…don’t forget to wear the belly binder. It’s not the most comfortable thing in the world, but once it’s on, you can just go about your day. The key is to remember to wear it (when you have a gazillion other things to remember, am I right?!) It really does help provide that extra support and “holding everything together” feeling.
10. Be hyper aware of how you get out of bed.
I was told to roll over on my side and use my opposite hand to push myself to an upright position. SO HELPFUL!! Of course, if you are anything like me, you have a thousand things on your mind and sometimes forget. YOUR BODY WILL REMIND YOU. It hurts to get up by sitting straight up.
I also slept upright those first few days. It just felt better!
I hope some of these tips are helpful to you! Go got this, Mama! Be gentle with yourself. And congrats on your beautiful bundle of joy!
Wishing you a healthy recovery,