My experience with C-sections has so far been limited to bringing muffins to friends who've had one. Reassuringly, they tell me a C-section isn't so bad, that it's just another way to meet your baby. Recovery, on the other hand — they're not so fond of. Every woman and every birth is different, so no one can really predict how soon you'll be back on your feet, or how many muffins you'll need. But what you doctor wants you to know about your first week after a C-section can be reassuring to hear.
Romper asked Monica Lee, MD, an OB-GYN in the LA metro area of Mommy MD Guides, what to expect from the first week in terms of pain. She explains that pain is subjective, and different for everyone. Her healthy patients never have to take opioid medications, assuming there have been no complications. Some women, however, have a lower pain tolerance and may need a little more help. New moms might take pain medications for a couple of weeks, but nonetheless, "everyone should be able to get out of bed the next day," she explains. In fact, it's important to walk around a little, because movement and activity helps your body get back to its regular routine, reported The Bump.
A first-hand account in Parents described the very first day for one new mom — feeling shaky and cold as the anesthesia wears off, feeling thirsty, but being unable to eat anything but ice chips. Then a broken night's sleep (nurses had to check her temperature), and in the morning, catheter removal, and time to walk (or at least hobble) around. Also, the first shower. Until you pass gas — which shows your digestive system is up and running again — you may not be allowed to eat after your C-section.
What about holding your baby? Lee acknowledges that the pressure of the baby resting on your stomach can be uncomfortable, especially if you have gas pains. After a C-section, most women spend two nights in the hopsital. You should be walking and eating the day after surgery, so don't be afraid to ask your friends for muffins (as long as they're not bran). Your wound dressing will be removed after another day, and your healthcare team will monitor you closely for signs of infection or excessive bleeding, according to Lee. "Likely you will have steri strips on the wound and you will be encouraged to keep the wound dry," she notes.
When you get home, Lee says you're clear to shower, but should refrain from bathing for two weeks. "Keep the wound dry," she advises. "Walk and eat. No heavy lifting over 15 pounds, and nothing in the vagina for six weeks, including sex and tampons."
Romper asked what most surprises women in the first week after a C-section. "There can be a lot of gas pain that can radiate to the shoulders," Lee notes. On the bright side, she finds that for some, recovery is actually much easier than expected. "For others, they don't like that they cannot pick up their older child for six weeks." Not being able to pick up your kid is truly a bummer. To the friends of those moms, I recommend you bring double the muffins.
The first week after a C-section is certainly a time to take extra good care of yourself, to rest, walk a bit, and eat healthy foods while connecting with your baby. But don't push too hard. "Even though doctors will tell you recovery is about six to eight weeks, you won't feel really normal for several months," explains Lee. She notes that recovery will be different for everyone, depending on your health, your anxiety level, and whether you suffered any complications during birth or surgery.
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