C section recovery essentials for healing while in the hospital
Babies have this way of imparting in any person a longing to snuggle and cuddle them. They are super cute, soft, and do just smell wonderful. But let’s be real here, having a baby can be hard. The sleepless nights, the breastfeeding drama, the emotions (gah, the hormones!!!). Having a baby AND having major abdominal surgery can be even tougher. Thankfully, if you are prepared for what is in store, it may help your recovery go a bit smoother. As a postpartum nurse, I wanted to help prepare you with c section recovery essentials that you need to know for optimum healing while in the hospital.
Being a mother/baby nurse has taught me a lot. When it came to having my own child I felt more prepared than the majority of patients are, yet not over prepared. I hope to share those bits of knowledge with you so that you are prepared and empowered to do this new thing! While I am incredibly real with my patients (and therefore with you), I always want to offer you good advice that you can trust.
How to recover quickly while you are in the hospital
1. Prepare for the pain after the c section
The first bit of info I think may just be the most important. I hear it time and time again “I didn’t know it was going to be this painful”. Yes, it is MAJOR abdominal surgery therefore it will hurt like crazy. Like I tell my patients all of the time, expect the worst and when it turns out better, you will be happy as ever. When they perform the procedure, it cuts nerves and therefore will cause a lot of new sensations most of which are unpleasant, all of them are at least annoying. Abnormal sensation can last months to years at your incision due to nerve damage. Prepare for the pain. This is completely normal as with any surgery and you will get use to it over time. In the mean time, take your pain medication and…
2. Definitely listen to your nurse!
You want to know how to recover quickly after a c section? Listen to everything your nurse tells you. Chances are, she has watched more patients go through this than you have and she is your biggest advocate for recovering after a c-section. If she tells you to walk, walk. If she tells you to sleep, sleep. I know this is a hard one, but really, your visitors will see you at home and it definitely feels better to walk than it does to stay in the bed. Movement helps to stretch out the abdominal muscles and helps to get your bowels moving. Yeah, these are the things a lot of people don’t want to discuss, but hey, I am a nurse and am pretty open to these conversations. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Take care of your bowels
Listen, the majority of my patients would say that their gas pain was WAYYYY worse than their incision pain. Prevention is key with this so take your food intake easily. Pizza is NOT a good option when you can finally eat. Try light, non-gassy foods like yogurt, fruits, salads, and lean meats. Be sure to eat enough ‘roughage” in your diet and drink plenty of water. Walk, walk, and walk some more. If you normally eat a specific food that does you well, bring it to the hospital if possible. Take medication if needed for your bowels and really, just listen to what your nurse is telling you to do.
4. Take care of yourself
I know that that new life-form is utterly demanding, but it CAN be set down. Matter of fact, it will not hurt the baby to cry so that you can go shower. Take a shower daily once you have the okay from your doc (or twice daily if you want), eat on a fairly regular schedule, walk, walk, and walk some more, and sleep. I see an awful lot of women up all night holding the baby. Wake up the man that caused all this (hehe) and tell him to hold the baby so you can sleep. This is one of the big c section recovery essentials that you need to really soak in…c section delivery requires lots of rest!
5. Take care of the baby
There is so much to learn when you have a baby. You have to learn how to feed it, how to diaper it, how to hold it. This all can be exhausting. But don’t worry mama, remember to take care of yourself first, then take care of the baby and you will be fine! Take all of the learning and challenges with stride. In 2 weeks it will feel like you have done this before:)
6. Ask for help…often!
If this is your first baby, you may not yet be accustomed to asking for a lot of help with things like getting a shower, getting out of bed, or helping with the baby. This is something that you will need to learn quickly. You do not need to do it all nor will you be able to! If you need to catch a shower or some zzz’s, have the doting grandmother come and hold the baby for a while. Then send her on her way so that she (and other family members) can prepare your home and some food for the homecoming. On that note, let your friends and community know that you had the baby so that they can come and offer any support (food, that is).
What to bring, the absolute necessities
7. Bring a heating pad
You may hurt all over. Just because you were cut in one place doesn’t mean that is the only place you will ache. This is especially true if you labored for a long time or you did some form of pushing. Pushing is tough work and takes basically every muscle in the body. Bring a heating pad so that you can take care of all that discomfort naturally. Take your medicine too. This is not really the time to try and be tough. If you are hurting, you cannot get up and move. Remember, you need to walk (I hope this is drilling into your head by now).
8. Use a binder if you are able
Ask for an abdominal binder to help decrease your pain especially when you are getting in and out of the bed. Some doctors may not allow this, but the majority of the ones that I have worked with do. The abdominal binder may be uncomfortable at first, but it will help. It acts in place of your muscles to support your midsection. A lot of women say that it helps to not feel like their incision is going to open up. It is really normal to worry about your incision coming open. The chances of this happening are very low (especially for the low transverse or “bikini line” incision that is primarily used), but use the binder or a pillow for added support when moving to help decrease the thought and risk.
If you find one that you like, you can bring this with you. Otherwise a lot of hospitals will provide them.
9. Top priority of what to bring, appropriate clothing
I cannot stress this enough! If you want to know what to bring, like the most important thing it is this! Bring dresses or loose pants that can be set above your incision. Use the underwear that they provide (Victoria’s Secret special underwear) so that they can also sit above the incision. Pants that you wore during pregnancy are just fine for wearing the first couple of days after having the baby. And don’t forget about the robe that covers it all! Check out my post on packing your hospital bag to know what to bring and to only get the essentials.
I hope this list of c section recovery essentials offers a lot of good tidbits of information that you will use in the weeks leading up to delivery and after. The big take away is parenting is hard. Don’t make it harder on yourself:) But really, remember to prepare yourself emotionally for the pain after surgery, listen to your nurse, and take care of yourself and baby. (Repeat after me “I am alive and well, baby is alive and well, I have accomplished much today!”). And when you are deciding what to bring, don’t forget these necessities like a heating pad, a binder, and clothing. Best of luck mama!
What are some tips that you haven’t heard yet (if any) that you are going to be sure to remember when delivery time comes?