Regardless of whether or not your Cesarean section was planned for, there are still some universal truths on how to take care of yourself after the fact. If you had a scheduled C-section, you might have already done extensive reading and Googling to prepare for the event. But there are some aspects of the post-op process that can be quite unexpected. Either way, you're probably going to be interested in finding as many C-section recovery tips as you can.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly a third of all births in the United States are done via Cesarean section. So chances are pretty good that you or someone you know will end up having a C-section at some point, and having expert hacks already on hand will be super useful.
My C-section was planned because of multiple preexisting health conditions I have that would've made a vaginal delivery dangerous for both my son and me. Yet nothing could have prepared me for what it actually felt like to recover from such a major abdominal surgery. Though every person is different and no two deliveries are the same, you can check out some of these C-section recovery tips so you'll be as ready as possible.
1. Eat To Aid Healing
That old saying, "you are what you eat," is somewhat accurate when it comes to the fact that your body will be in major need of some healthy nutrients in order to repare itself. Dr. Carolyn Dean told She Knows that, "C-section recovery starts from the inside" and a diet rich in magnesium can, "aid in the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates ,and fats while supporting recovery."
2. Get Moving
The last thing on your mind after having a C-section is anything that involves movement. Yet getting up and around can be your ticket to a faster recovery. Dr. Aaron B. Caughey, a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists committee, told Parents that, "increased physical activity helps with circulation, improves bowel function, and will get you back to baseline sooner,"
3. Hold Tight
You're probably well aware that you're going to need to take it easy on your whole abdominal area, but there are some extra precautions you can take to make sure you don't rupture or strain anything. Dr. Stephen Kim, a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told Healthline that, "whenever you have to sneeze or cough, hold your abdomen to protect the incision site."
4. Enlist Some Digestive Help
No one prepared me for how insanely awful the gas pains would be after having a C-section. I mean, it makes sense since your digestive system just got messed with during surgery, but this was like like next level bad burrito pain. So it's no surprise the experts at Fit Pregnancy advised that you take full advantage of the laxatives, stool softeners, and gas relieving medicine the hospital offers you.
5. Prepare For Lots Of Blood
Another mistake I made was thinking that because my vagina played no part in the delivery, it would be OK. Nope. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), "your uterus will begin the 'involution' process which is is the shrinking of the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size." And in order to shrink, that means all that blood has to go somewhere. The APA also noted. "you will begin to experience heavy bleeding of bright red blood and will need to have extra-absorbent menstrual pads."
6. Rock Granny Panties
Nowadays, most C-section incisions are made near the bikini line so the scar won't be visible when you're wearing a swimsuit or underwear. That being said, all my cute underwear directly lined up with the incision and was beyond irritating. So if you don't grab some of those sexy mesh undies from the hospital, do yourself a favor and invest in some granny panties that won't bother your C-section scar.
7. Pay Attention To Your Body
OB-GYN Dr. Shawn Tassone told Parents to, "listen to your body, and if things hurt, slow down; if you feel tired, rest as much as you can." He also offered a great reminder; "Don't compare your recovery to someone else's because our recoveries vary as much as our genetics and comparisons will only frustrate those who take a bit longer to recover."
8. Know The Warning Signs
Just because you had a major surgery doesn't mean that your recovery is going to be all gloom and doom. Though some pain, discomfort, and even swelling is normal following a C-section, look out for signs that could mean something is wrong. According to Baby Center, "warmth, redness, swelling, or oozing at the incision site, a fever, pain when urinating, and pain that is sudden or worse than usual," all indicate that you might actually have an infection. It's better to catch it early than too late.
9. Avoid Any Insertions
Though your C-section left your vagina out of the birthing equation (for the most part), you'll still need to follow certain rules in your recovery. According to Healthline, "wait to have sex or use tampons until your doctor gives you the green light." Otherwise, you could be causing unnecessary irritation to your vagina as your uterus and incision site heal.
10. Go Easy In The Shower
Dr. Alison Edelman, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Sciences University, told Fit Pregnancy, "don't scrub your incision, but let the soapy water run over it. It's safe to take a bath when the incision has healed, generally seven to 10 days after surgery." So even if you're really wanting to get that sticky residue from the bandages off, go easy on your fragile skin during recovery so that you won't irritate your scar.
11. Keep On Chugging
Many women I know assumed that, since they didn't go through a long, draining vaginal labor, they wouldn't have to be as mindful during their C-section recovery. However, as the Mayo Clinic pointed out, "drinking lots of fluids can help replace those lost during your C-section and breastfeeding, as well as help prevent constipation." So even if it wasn't a vaginal delivery, your body still lost fluid and needs help restoring them.