I’ve had three c-sections, and each one has been different. Recovery has been a little easier each time, and I’ve learned a few things that make recovery a little bit easier. In this post, I’ll tell you about my most recent recovery, so that you’ll know what to expect. (Want to skip straight to the recovery tips? Click here!)
In the recovery room, a nurse came by every now and then to do a “fundal massage.” This is when a nurse presses on your uterus to help it shrink down and reduce cramping/bleeding. (I think massage is the wrong term here, ha!) It wasn’t painful, but it wasn’t comfortable either. They also gave me some water to drink.
Once an hour had passed, the nurse wheeled my bed upstairs to my room. My husband pushed our baby in her little isolette, and they both stayed with me the whole time.
When we got to my room, the nurse had me move from the bed on wheels to the hospital bed. I was really nervous about this, because (hello!) I had just had major surgery and didn’t want to mess anything up. I was also scared it would be painful. Plus, I could barely move my legs because of the anesthesia. In the end, it was okay and I was grateful that part was over.
Once we got settled in, I asked my husband to bring me some soup. (TIP: You will be on a liquid diet for the first day. Bring your own soup!! Hospital soup is NASTY!)
They put these leg sleeves on my legs (to avoid blood clot), and those were driving me crazy and making me sweaty. I had a great nurse who agreed to take them off for an hour so that I could get a break from them.
They also place a pad under you to catch any postpartum bleeding. Yes, even though you’ve had a c-section, you will still have vaginal bleeding (lochia) for up to six weeks after surgery.
The pediatrician came by to check on baby girl and look her over. My in-laws stopped in for a visit. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. I mostly just snuggled my sweet baby and nursed.
I didn’t get much sleep that night. I was on a birth high and busy nursing a very hungry baby. Around 4 am, the nurse came in and helped me stand up for the first time.
Standing up after a c-section is terrifying. It is incredibly painful. But, it felt good not to be lying in bed. After I stood for a few moments, I got back in bed. After sunrise, the nurse came back to remove my catheter and help me get out of bed again. I was able to walk (slowly and hunched over) from the bed to the bathroom. I also had my IV removed.
I also got dressed in my comfy nursing pajamas. About that time, my midwife dropped by to ask me if I was ready to go home. Yes!!
Now, it should be noted that most c-section patients will be discharged on day 3. But I was crazy and wanted to get home to be with my older two. Later I really regretted not staying the extra night because I was in lots of pain.
Before I could go home, baby had to have her PKU test (heel prick) and hearing test. They also wanted me to eat and walk around. (Done and done!)
Home at last
Finally it was time to go home. I got dressed and a nurse helped me get into a wheelchair to wheel me out to the car. Every little pothole and bump made me sore. Unfortunately, we were discharged during rush hour, so traffic was horrible.
When we got home, I took a shower. It felt so good to feel clean again! I then settled into my recliner to snuggle baby and nap a little. My parents came and brought the big kids, so it was very sweet to see them meeting her for the first time.
That night, I decided to sleep in the recliner. I didn’t feel like I could lie down in the bed without it being painful to my incision. I slept there for the first 2-3 nights.
The weeks following delivery
About one week after my baby was born, I was able to get out of bed without help. I was also taking longer walks. Getting up and down was no longer painful.
At about week two, I felt well enough to drive for a short distance. I was back to my normal duties of dishes and a little laundry, albeit a little slower than usual.
By week six, I was back to my old self again!
Tips for making c-section recovery easier
There are several things that you can do to cope with c-section recovery.
1. Pillows for days.
Hold and press a pillow into your stomach if you need to sneeze, or when you stand up for the first time. Keep plenty of pillows in your bed to help you stay slightly reclined.
2. Bind it up.
Wear an abdominal binder. This is a lifesaver for making standing and walking easier. I wore one for the first few days, but many people wear theirs for months. Bonus perk? It sucks in your post-baby pudge. 🙂
3. Reach out.
Have someone help you get up and down. Don’t be afraid to ask. I used my husband’s forearm and pulled up on that.
4. Move it…
Move around. I know it’s scary, but the more you stand and walk, the easier it will get. Promise. The first time you stand/walk will be scary. But you can do it! And the next time it won’t be so scary.
5. But not too much.
Not to sound contradictory, but take it easy. Don’t overdo it. No grocery shopping or outdoor hiking 2 days after surgery. Slow and steady.
Stay on top of your pain medication. Seriously, don’t forget to take it.
Be sure to stay hydrated and don’t forget to eat. Try to cook some freezer meals in your third trimester so all you have to do is pop one in the oven. Or set up a meal train so friends and family can bring you dinner. (For the first couple of weeks we also used paper plates and such to minimize loads of dishes.)
8. Oh, poo.
Take stool softeners right away. The anesthesia might make you constipated, so you’ll be glad you did. (Of course, talk this oer with your doctor and see what they recommend.)
Sleep as much as you can. I know, I know. It seems impossible to “sleep when baby sleeps.” Especially if you have a baby who doesn’t sleep well. But seriously, the other stuff can wait in the beginning. You need your rest!
(Side note: My third baby was the WORST sleeper. She would not let us put her down – ever. I’m not even exaggerating. This baby swing saved our lives – and sanity!)
How was your c-section recovery? What advice would you give a fellow c-section mama about recovery?
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