Most people are aware of basic "visiting a new mom" protocol: bring a baby gift, perhaps some pastries, and compliment the baby. However, unless you have more than few new moms in your life, or have experienced childbirth yourself, you're probably forgetting about the things you can do for mom. Moms who've had c-sections are in need of a little extra TLC, too. You may not know it, but there are some amazing things that anyone could do for a mom who had a c-section.
These things do not have to be particularly intimate in order to go a long way, either. As a mom who has had two c-sections, I feel confident in saying that I felt really taken care of by friends who did seemingly small gestures that severely impacted me in a wonderfully pleasant and uplifting way. Sometimes, it was amazing just to be listened to when I needed to complain (like, a lot of complaining) about how I looked post-surgery. Other times, I wanted to cry out of gratitude because of a thoughtful delivery of chocolate croissants.
Sometimes I had to ask friends and family for specific ways in which they could help me, and I was OK with that. Not everyone is a mind reader. Still, it always felt better when people did things without being asked. If you know someone recovering from a c-section, here are a few ideas of what you can do for her that will make her feel pretty damn amazing:
Assure Her She Won't Feel Or Look This Way Forever
Not only did I think (thanks to my c-section) I would look pregnant for the rest of my life, I also thought my c-section scar was the grossest thing I'd ever seen. I was beyond terrified that the scar, which I could barely look at, would never heal, too.
Even though friends of mine could easily have told me I was crazy to be focusing on how I looked when I had this perfectly healthy little baby in my arms, they indulged me in my superficial worries. I needed friends to spend the time telling me that, no, I would not have a stomach that (thanks to the ridges of my scar) looked like the profile of a sea bass when I turned to the side. Eventually I got over my obsession with my stomach (and eventually my stomach went back to more-or-less normal), but when I needed it, my friends were really amazing about letting me vent about my feelings.
Maintain A Poker Face When She Passes Gas
If you think that pregnancy gas is bad, just wait for that c-section gas. Whoo boy. That's a doozy. When they open your body up for a surgery, well, a lot of air gets in there. Plus, I think that gas is just a byproduct of abdominal surgery in general. So where is it gonna go once they sew you back together? You guessed it.
Anyone who visits you will just have to either laugh, accept, or ignore the delightful sounds coming from your side of the couch. It is a horrible indignity piled on top of all the other birth and post-birth indignities, but this is what makes us ass-kicking warriors, right?
Tidy Up Her House
Or at least offer to do the things that hurt when she is forced to bend over. If you've ever experienced abdominal surgery, you'll know that it feels like a million tiny daggers every time you lean over your stomach to make a bed, pick up something off the floor, fold laundry or, you know, try to get your baby out of the crib.
Every time my mom visited, she folded my laundry, changed my sheets, and did my dishes so I wouldn't have to worry about them that day.
Watch Her Newborn Or Her Older Kids So She Can Rest
A c-section recovery requires a whole lot of rest. It is a major surgery, that can often happen on top of the trauma of labor (in the instances of an emergency c-section following labor).
So a woman who has endured a c-section is in need of some major chill out time. She probably is super psyched to see you, but instead of one of your usual hang outs, she could probably really use time to close her eyes or lie down in silence while you have some bonding time with her kids. I loved it when certain friends of mine who just "got it," and would come over and watch my baby for a bit while I took a nap.
Bring Her Food
One of the easiest and simplest of gestures is to bring food. After my second c-section I was walking out of my building with my newborn in his stroller while a friend of mine was walking into my building.
"What are you doing in my neck of the woods?" I asked, surprised to see her so far from her part of Brooklyn. I noticed she had a box of pastries in her stroller from my favorite shop.
"Oh, I brought these for you. I thought you might enjoy them."
I couldn't believe how lovely and thoughtful this friend was, that she would come all this way just to bring me some pastries. I apologized that I was on my way out and that I didn't have time to visit and I felt terrible about that, and she said, "Not at all! I just wanted to drop these off for you!"
This was such an act of care that sought nothing in return (although I would have loved to have had a visit with her) and is exactly the kind of thing a c-section mom (or any new mom) would appreciate.
Prepare A Snack For Her
I've been guilty of this too, even after having two children, when visiting new moms (even ones who have had c-sections), but when I enter someone's house I instinctually wait for them to offer me a snack or a drink. WTF? Why would I do that when visiting someone who for all intents and purposes should not be lifting anything heavier than a slice of bread? Luckily, I catch myself after a while, and finally say, "What can I make you?"
As a new mom, and especially as a c-section mom, you are glued to that couch nursing or with a sleeping little newborn on your chest. The more that can be brought to you, the better. So, it would be really amazing if someone offered to make you a plate of crackers and cheese, or some carrots and peanut butter (new moms are a very, very ravenous bunch) and maybe something ice cold to drink while you're at it. OK? OK.
Encourage Her To Go On A Walk (With Or Without You)
Part of the recovery process for a c-section mom is some light walking, to increase circulation and improve bowel functions. You would be up there on the Top Five Best Friends list if you offered your mama friend time to go out and take a mind-clearing walk by herself, while you held down the fort at home. Or, maybe she would want some company. Offer both, and see what she says.
Either way, a walk would be great for any new mom who has likely spent many hours cooped up in the house with a newborn. A c-section mom would likely appreciate having the physical support of someone to walk with, in case she has pain or needs to sit down.
"Ooh" And "Ahh" Over Her Scar
Even though I thought my scar was the worst thing that ever happened to me, I insisted on showing it to anyone who would look. Maybe I wanted to see if it was, indeed, as horrifying as I thought it was, so I would look to their reactions to confirm what I thought was true in my own heart. If they flinched, then I would know it was real. Women who have c-sections tend to want to talk about it, because for many, it can be a traumatic experience and the scar is a visual reminder of that experience.
Showing off the scar — especially when it is still pretty raw and new — is a very quantifiable way of bringing someone into your experience. So even if you're the squeamish sort, you would be doing a great favor in throwing your friend a bone and looking at her scar, then telling her that she is a freaking Queen for going through that for her baby.