Sunday, September 7, 2014

C-Section Healing Tips

When I was envisioning my birth, a c-section wan't even on my radar, so I was in no way prepared to deal with the emotional and physical changes that happen when healing from major abdominal surgery. I guess you could say I did a lot of on the job learning, and I'd like to pass on the nuggets of wisdom I learned along the way.

1. Have a great support person / people. 

I was lucky enough to have Keegan, my parents, and a few wonderful nurses who took it upon themselves to help me out as much as possible. When it takes you 20 minutes just to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, you'll want someone who is willing to take the time and not rush you. You'll also want someone who you're not embarrassed to have them see you at your physical worst. Let's just say I never thought I would pee in front of my husband. 

2. Walk (when you're cleared to, of course.) 

My nurses got me up and walking the day after surgery which was the scariest thing I have ever done, but I'm so glad they forced me to. Yes, it was painful, and I'm pretty sure my newborn could have wiggled across the room faster than my shuffling, but it gave my muscles a chance to stretch out after being in bed all day. Keegan was really good at forcing me to walk around the postpartum wing of the hospital at least twice a day. We were lucky that my parents were in town, so they would stay with baby in the room while we walked, but even once they left, we would take Kieran out with us in his crib. 

3. Keep up on your meds.

The first 24 hours after surgery, I was on an IV of morphine that I was able to dose myself when the pain got too bad. However, after that, I was given ibuprofen and Percocet in pill form every 6 hours. Sometimes my nurses would forget my dose, especially at night, and I was such a space cadet that I didn't remember either, but if I missed a dose, I would wake up feeling like I got hit by a semi. Everything ached like I had the flu, and it made doing even simple tasks difficult.  Even though I hated relying on medications, it made life so much better and allowed my body to heal faster.  

I would say keeping up on your medications when you're home is even more important because you don't have nurses and hospital staff to help you. You have to walk yourself to the bathroom and it's much more difficult when you're in pain. 

4. Bring comfy clothes. 

Again, I didn't think I would have a c-section so I didn't pack clothes that were meant to not bother my incision, but I did throw a maternity dress into my hospital bag thinking I'd wear it home since I expected to still look 5 months pregnant. I am so thankful I had that dress because it allowed me to wear something other than a hospital gown, that didn't rub on my incision. I also had a pair of black yoga pants that we're soft enough to not bother my incision and also hid any...leaks that happened.

I also brought a pack of cheap underwear that I didn't mind getting dirty. Without even realizing it, I purchased high rise underwear that I thought would be huge on me, but they ended up being perfect. They reached high enough on my stomach to not hit my incision and they've worked so well that I've worn them since we've been home as well since all of my regular underwear hit directly where my healing incision is. 

5. Shower. Wear your own clothes. Put on makeup. 

Getting up to shower was another one of those tasks that seemed impossible, but I was so glad I did it. I was able to wash all the leftover liquids and adhesives off from surgery, and in general just felt cleaner. Wearing my own clothes was much more comfortable than the hospital gown, and if I wore makeup, I probably would have put that on too. 

6. Eat and Drink. 

My hospital provided three meals a day and sometimes the nurses would slip me snacks of graham crackers and juice. The hospital food wasn't exactly a 4 course meal, so I'd eat whatever seemed remotely eatable, and then asked my parents or Keegan to get me food when they'd run out to get something for themselves. I was starving most of the time due to not being able to eat for 24 hours while I labored as well as breastfeeding, so eating enough was important. If you're breastfeeding, getting enough water really helps your supply, so make sure you're keeping hydrated.

7. Room with your baby. 

Deciding to have your baby room with you, or to have them spend the night in the nursery is a very personal decision, but I can't say enough how glad I am that Keegan and I decided to have Kieran room with us. It was easier for us since we had to feed him every three hours, but it also allowed us to learn from the nurses. They were constantly in our room, so we asked them to teach us how to swaddle a baby, how to take care of his umbilical cord, and more. They were there, they had the knowledge, so we decided to get as much information out of them as we could.

8. Be easy on yourself. 

This might be the most important tip besides having a good support system. I know there were many times I got upset and frustrated because I couldn't physically do as much as I wanted. The entire time I was in the hospital, I didn't change a diaper because it was too difficult for me to get out of bed to do so. Whenever Kieran was hungry, I had to have someone bring him to me because his crib was too high for me to reach from the bed. There was one really memorable time when Kieran threw up all over himself and the bed and I felt so helpless because I couldn't help to clean him or myself up.

Keegan was really great at reminding me that I just had major abdominal surgery and no one expected me to be able to move around like I normally do. I really had to let go of my urges to be in control of the situation and allow my husband, family, and nurses take care of me. I'm one who doesn't like to ask for help, but I really had to let that go and remind myself that I would be able to take care of my son soon enough.

9. Take Pictures / Video

Even though I don't want to dwell on our time in the hospital, I'm so glad we took pictures of our time there. Those are our son's first moments and our first moments as a family of three. We also got pictures of my family meeting Kieran for the first time which are some of my favorite memories. We made sure to get pictures of the not so happy times like the IVs and our difficulties at the beginning of breastfeeding because they are also a part of our son's story.

I had no idea what to expect from a c-section, so these are all things I learned along my healing process. Healing from a c-section is no walk in the park, so I hope that these tips are helpful. Any other c-section mamas have anything to add? 


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. super super good tips! c-sections can be so rough.

  3. THANK YOU!! Your advice is solid--will chime in once I've had mine in ~ 7 weeks!

  4. Great advice! The hardest time for me was when we were still in the hospital. The nurses leave you on your own pretty much and my hubby was splitting time between the hospital and being home with our older son. I spent long hours alone in my hospital bed, just holding the baby so he'd sleep so I could sleep too, because I had such a hard time getting up to take care of him. I have a hard time asking for help sometimes and I think I pushed myself too much. I ended up checking out of the hospital a day early, just so I could be home where there were people to help me.

    One other tip--if they don't give you one of those support wraps, ask for one! I couldn't go out of the house without it for a month, it helped so much to have the support and made it easier to wear regular clothes soon, because nothing could rub my incision.

  5. This was awesome. I feel like people don't like to talk about their c-sections because everyone is set on vaginal births, so I feel in the dark on them. I'm so glad you're sharing your story :)

  6. Sounds like some fantastic tips. Thank you so much for sharing!