C-section recovery can be a long process depending on the woman but also very much depending on the support system the woman has. It isn’t easy to get back on your feet for a wide variety of reasons. First, the procedure itself does take its toll on the body but also, a lot of women who deliver via cesarian section find that they feel robbed of experiencing natural child birth. Feeling that way is nothing to be ashamed of and for some women, the first step to recovering is talking openly about how they feel and, most importantly, asking for help while they recover.
What is a C-section?
Let’s remove one of the stigmas attached to the c-section immediately. A c-section may not be a natural form of child birth but there is absolutely nothing wrong with having to have a c-section. For many women, there is simply no other option for safely delivering a healthy baby.
So what is a c-section? A c-section, or cesarian section, is a procedure that allows a doctor to deliver a baby through an incision in the abdomen. For some women, delivering via cesarian section is the only option for delivering safely, as I mentioned above. Other women choose to have cesarian sections. Regardless of the reason, no mother should be looked down on for having a c-section. Sadly, it’s not always easy to feel that way when you’re the new mother that has just had one.
What can I expect physically after a C-section?
There are several post partum symptoms you’ll experience after a c-section the same as a woman who gave birth vaginally would. These symptoms include:
- Engorged breasts
- Vaginal discharge
- Mood swings
- Dark patches on your lips, nose, cheeks or forehead
- Possible hair loss
All of the above symptoms are perfectly natural post partum symptoms. Not all women will have all of the symptoms. Some women will have some of the symptoms worse than others. Some lucky women wind up having them all. Having a c-section does not make you any more or any less likely to get some symptoms worse than others. They are your body’s way of reacting to the hormonal changes in your body and the act of giving birth. Whether or not you gave birth vaginally or via cesarian section does not impact those changes.
In addition to those symptoms however, new mothers who have had cesarian sections will also get the added stresses of recovering from a major surgical procedure. While you will be able to do it on your own if you have to, do not be afraid to ask for help. If there’s no one in your life you can turn to, see about hiring a postpartum doula. A doula can come into your home and help you out while you recover. It’s important not to over exert yourself and attempting to take care of a newborn and take care of household chores can sometimes be too much to take. There’s no shame in that. It simply means you’re a human being and you can’t do everything.
What can I expect emotionally after a C-section?
As I mentioned in the introduction, women who have given birth via cesarian section can sometimes feel cheated out of a natural birth but along with that, some women also feel frustrated with what they feel is a slow recovery. The body has no set time to recover. Try to remember that. It can be hard and it can be immensely frustrating but stressing yourself out or giving in to those darker emotions won’t make anything better.
Aside from the frustration of recovery and the cheated feeling, it isn’t uncommon for a woman who has had a cesarian section to feel less connected or bonded with her baby. It’s not uncommon to feel like less of a woman or less of a mother. None of that is true. You’ve carried your baby inside your body. You’ve done everything you can do to make sure it’s as healthy and protected in your womb as possible. You are every bit the mother someone who delivered vaginally is and whether or not you believe it at the time, that bond will come in time.
Post partum blues and post partum depression are subjects that aren’t talked about nearly as much as they should be. Many, many, many women experience one or the other and it can be an absolutely horrifying feeling. When we hear stories about the months after women give birth we often hear about how the lack of sleep was the biggest problem. We don’t often hear about the tears and the fear that you aren’t ready to be a mother. If you can’t shake off the feeling – and many women can’t – don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor for help. Your doctor will appreciate you having the courage to seek assistance and will be able to point you in the direction of the support you need.
What can I expect from the first few days of C-section recovery?
Nauseated, fatigued, itchy – all of these things are normal after the procedure and the days following. While you can still breastfeed if you’ve had a c-section, it may be a little more difficult for you than it would be for a woman who gave birth vaginally because you have to be very careful to avoid putting pressure on the incision from the c-section. Ask your nurse to help you find comfortable positions for breastfeeding after a c-section.
Because a cesarian section is a major, medical procedure you’re going to need to take a little time to recover. Even little things like coughing, laughing or sneezing will require additional care. Basically though, the first few days of c-section recovery aren’t all that different from the first few days of recovery from vaginal birth. You’ll need to take it easy, try to relax and try to give your body what it needs to heal.
How can I prepare for C-section recovery?
The best way to prepare for c-section recovery is to try your hardest to get a solid support system in place. If the baby’s father is in your life, make sure he understands what you’ll be going through when you get home from the hospital so that he can be ready to help in any way he can. While you may want to be with your newborn baby every waking hour, you need to focus on allowing yourself to heal as well. If Daddy is helping, taking it easy will be much easier for you.
If Daddy isn’t in your life and you don’t have anyone else that can come help care for you and the baby, consider looking into hiring someone. While the initial expense might seem difficult to swallow when you have a new baby in the home, it can be well worth it.