18 cesarean recovery tips from mums who have been there

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  1. Listen to the medical staff. If they say to go easy, go easy. There’s reasons behind their advice and even if you think you feel good enough to do this or that, you are doing more damage trying too much, too soon. Listen to their advice on how to do certain tasks (sit up, stand up, bear weight, poop, shower…) they know what trauma can be caused to your insides by doing those things the wrong way. It’s major abdominal surgery, you need to treat your recovery as such.
  2. If something doesn’t feel right, ask until you get an answer.  One mum said, “I still have some generalised numbness in the area of my scar 22 years later. When I first asked about it (several times) after my daughter was born I was told it would go away so I stopped asking. I felt like I was being a sook to ask. I suggest you ask. Ask often and until you get an answer!”
  3. Bridget Jones knickers!! Firm ones, lay down while you put them on. I helps stop your wobbly post baby belly from jiggling and making your incision move and be painful.
  4.  SRC Recovery Shorts make the perfect gift. The spanx-like gear reduces pain and increases pelvic/back support.  People love buying expensive designer outfits for a newborns, but tell them to spend their money on someone who will notice and appreciate their gift. Decreased back pack is priceless.
  5. Keep the drugs coming! Take the medication they give you and don’t be afraid to ask for more. You have to be your own advocate. You shouldn’t have to wait until the pain gets bad again until taking the next one — try to keep things level by staying on top of pain management.
  6. Order extra food in hospital.  Recovery and making milk is hungry work, when you select your meals, order more sides as snacks. You will appreciate additional yoghurt, muffins, cheese and crackers etc in the middle of the night.
  7. Fibre! Lots of fruit, veg, water and fibre, you have to keep your bowels moving if you’re taking painkillers while recovering.
  8. Chew gum to help with your first bowel movement.
  9. Tubi grip (supplied by the hospital physio) can give support to your tummy.
  10. A pillow held over the scar when you cough or laugh.
  11. Look into acupuncture and what what they call ‘scar bridging’. It aims to get your nerve endings communicating again so you get all your feeling back around the incision.
  12. Live-in help: One mum said: “You will move slower than your Nan on her zimmerframe and you may not be able to stand up straight for weeks but it is still a good idea to keep moving around slowly and gently. My parents came to stay with us for two weeks and helped enormously. They did all the household chores and cooking and helped settle my baby after I fed him at night.”
  13. Don’t cook. Line up your bulk-cooked frozen meals or organise a roster. Mamabake big batch recipes are a life saver. Even better, get family and fiends to deliver meals. Follow the Mamabake roster guide here.
  14.  Sit and snack while feeding.  Take a seat and get visitors and family to prepare these 21 One-handed Snack Ideas for a Newly Birthed Mother.
  15. Washerwoman woes. Hopefully you’ll have someone to do the washing for you for a while but when you do return to the laundry, put front-end loaders up high so you don’t have to bend down. Also, use clothes racks instead of reaching up for the clothesline.
  16. Single level living: If you have a two storey house, have somewhere to put bub to sleep and change nappies on both levels. At least for the first few months.
  17. Try to set your life up for a rough few months. One mamabaker who experienced an emergency cesarean gave her insight into the length of recovery time you could expect: “I couldn’t drive for five months, couldn’t stand properly for first year, so whatever you can automate ahead of time (bills, shopping), set that up. I bought ahead — clothing from newborn to size 2 — so glad I did that.”
  18. Realise your birth trauma is a reasonable response and get support. Melissa Bruijn, founder of Birthtalk.org said: “Sometimes a cesarean is a positive and empowering experience and sometimes it can be, well, not so great. My own cesarean was a traumatic experience and the impact rippled out into my whole life. So what I wish is that someone had felt it important to acknowledge that feeling frightened, confused, helpless and not central to the experience during the birth could have an emotional impact in the days, weeks and months afterwards, if appropriate support is not in place. (This is true for any birth, not just cesareans). So that would have helped immensely, so that I wouldn’t have kept thinking that it was ‘just me’ and that I just ‘didn’t cope’ … when really I was experiencing a reasonable response to what had happened.”

Thanks to all the mamas who contributed with c-section recovery tips. You can join the conversation here:

 

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