Giving birth is a huge milestone that changes a woman in many ways – some good, others not so great. New moms find new capacity for love, learn about their strengths, and have new confidence in what their bodies can do.
They are also living in a body that feels nothing like the one they had pre-baby. Whether she’s had a vaginal delivery or C-section birth, there’s no denying the fact that your body changes once you’re a mom.
If you’ve just had your first baby, you may have no idea how to dress your new body, how it needs to rest, how weak or strong it is, or even whether you can hold that pee you need until you get to the next bus stop.
And if you’re a C-section mom, you deserve a medal. Some people might say it’s the easy way out or that it’s lazy, but any mom who has had a Cesarean section knows it’s no such thing.
The recovery can be nightmarish, but there are a few things you can do to help yourself heal faster and feel better. With that in mind, here are eight tips to help yourself recover faster from your C-section.
1Take your time
It can take up to six weeks or so to recover, but if there were complications or you’re also looking after other children, you might need more time. It’s important to listen to your body – don’t push yourself to do too much, too soon.
2Take gentle exercise
Anything too active will cause more damage, but gentle exercise like walking will help you recuperate. Leave the kick-boxing until you’re fully fit, and avoid anything strenuous until you’re pain-free and feel ready. Regular walking reduces the risk of blood clots and gets you out of the house (hopefully into the sunshine). Try to avoid lifting, climbing or running until your doctor says it’s ok.
3Talk to your doctor
You’ve just given birth and undergone major surgery at the same time. Be sure to talk to your doctor or midwife if you experience any of the following:
- You have a fever
- You feel unwell
- Your wound swells, turns red, becomes painful or has a discharge
4Get plenty of rest
Rest is essential to recover from any surgery, but as any new parent will you, sleep is usually in short supply. If your newborn is keeping you up, you might feel stressed and overwhelmed. Sleep when your baby sleeps and don’t worry about housework, having guests over, or cooking beautiful meals. After a C-section you’re in survival mode and there’s nothing wrong with doing what you need to do to feel better.
5Ask for help
This is often a tough one for all new mothers. Taking care of a demanding newborn all day, every day, is scary and overwhelming – but you feel you should be able to cope. Accept that you need help, and if it’s not offered, ask for it. You don’t have to struggle with this alone.
6Process your feelings
The emotions you experience at this time may range from intense love to absolute terror. And if you had an emergency C-section or otherwise, you’ll have some especially strong feelings to process. Talk to a partner, friend, or therapist for early support if you need it, as this will help reduce any risk of postpartum depression.
7Manage your pain
There’s no reason at all to suffer needlessly. While a new mom is struggling with the demands of caring for a newborn, she’s likely to think of herself last of all. You’ll have been prescribed pain relief by your physician, so take it! And if the meds don’t help enough, talk to your doctor and ask for alternatives or additions. Don’t suffer in silence.
8Watch for signs of infection
We’ve already talked about being sure to keep in touch with your doctor, but when it comes to infections there is no time to waste. Some physicians will ask a new C-section mom to take her temperature every 24 hours at home. That way, if there is a spike in fever, they can see a doctor asap. Also look out for (and report):
- Intense pain
- Red streaks from the incision area
- Body chills
A C-section is a major operation. Combine that with becoming a new mom, and recovery can be tough. It’s so important to remember that your child needs you to stay healthy and happy – getting sick yourself while taking care of them is no good for anyone. Least of all you.