When I was pregnant with my twins I knew I was going to need a c-section because Baby A was breech and never turned.
Some of my biggest fears every time I have gotten pregnant is needing to deliver by c-section and not carrying to full term. I had abdominal surgery before when I was a teenager and it was painful and super scary, so I think that’s one contributing factor to my fear of c-sections. I also have been in preterm labor before and so with my twins-pregnancy both of those feared were confirmed.
I knew that I didn’t have a choice and it was going to happen no matter what; I was going to have preemie babies and I was going to need a c-section to get them here. I had time to wrap my head around it all and prepare myself. So, I thought; but NOTHING can prepare you for preemie babies and a c-section.
I asked my doctor multiple questions about the surgery and NICU at almost all my appointments to better prepare myself. She knew my fears and was very supportive and understanding.
I thought I was ready, until it all happened.
THE BIGGEST THING I WISH I DID BEFORE MY C-SECTION WAS RESEARCH AND UNDERSTAND THE RECOVERY PART OF A C-SECTION.
I definitely prepared myself for the procedure part of a c-section. My doctor gave me the run-down of how it all worked multiple times. She gave me an estimated time of how long it’ll take start to finish, how long it usually takes to get the first baby out and then the second. She really helped me understand and know what to expect.
Of course, my doctor explained to me how long recovery should take, how long I can’t drive, lift anything over ten pounds, no exercising, to not do anything strenuous, no sex, no bathing or swimming. She told me all of that.
What she didn’t tell me was how much pain I’ll be in; all the sensations I’ll feel, the possibilities of becoming really sick during surgery and afterwards, how I won’t be able to sleep in my bed for weeks. She didn’t mention any of that.
Now, I understand everybody is different and they may handle surgery and procedures differently, but over-all there has to be some common symptoms everyone experiences after a c-section, right?
Why didn’t she tell me those things?
I guess it’s my fault because I didn’t really ask. I didn’t read up on it either and I honestly didn’t really think too much about it. I was focused and concerned for the surgery itself than the recovery.
I mean I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I know so many people who have had c-sections and I have heard horrifying experiences and easy experiences. I just figured I am tough and I can handle it.
The surgery part isn’t fun, but it’s the easy part because you aren’t the one doing anything. This part is in your doctor’s hands, you just lay there feeling nauseous, possibly throwing up, feeling anxious, scared and nervous, and listening to everything happening around you.
The recovery part is all on YOU! This is in your hands and you are the one experiencing it. So, I highly recommend knowing exactly what to expect after a c-section and exactly what you can do to get through it.
9 TIPS TO HELP YOU RECOVER FROM A C-SECTION
1. TAKE YOUR PAIN MEDICATIONS– This is HUGE! I am NOT JOKING! Stay on top of them and take them REGULARLY. My husband works in the Substance Abuse Counseling field and so it’s natural for me to be terrified of taking pain medication because of the fear of getting addicted to them. Plus, I get very nauseous and vomit a lot when I take pain medication, so I tend to avoid them at all costs. DON’T DO THAT! Take them religiously until you are starting to get your strength back and feeling a little better, then start taking them less often until you no longer need them at all.
2. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY– You are the only one that knows how you feel. If you feel your body is not ready to get up and start walking around, then don’t do it! The nurses and your doctor will tell you to start walking as soon as possible after surgery (more like 12 hours afterwards.) They’ll say it’ll help speed up your recovery, they are probably right, but if you are not feeling up to it then give yourself a little bit more time. Walking to your bathroom and back to your bed is good enough the first day post-op! Day two and three post-op start taking smaller walks around the hospital and your room. Once you are home continue to listen to your body throughout your recovery. Don’t over do it and push yourself too hard.
3. STAY IN THE HOSPITAL AS LONG AS YOUR INSURANCE ALLOWS– Take advantage of the hospital, take advantage of the help and the opportunity to rest. I am pretty sure most insurances allow 4 days post-op recovery. I know hospitals are uncomfortable and annoying, but not having as many demands in the hospital like you will have at home and having help from the nurses will really help your recovery get a good jump start.
4. REST– This is going to be so hard to do once you leave the hospital, but rest as much as you can. I know you have a newborn and possibly other children to tend to, but you need to rest so your body can heal. Over doing it will push your recovery back.
5. GET HELP– Ask for help from family, friends, and neighbors. This was so hard for me because I am the type of person that likes to do everything for myself and I hate feeling like a burden. You are going to need help though, so take it!
6. BE KIND TO YOUR BODY– Once you are home it is important to keep moving. Take small walks. Try to avoid stairs as much as possible, gather everything you need and stay on one floor. Don’t lift anything that weighs more than your baby. Don’t exercise, have sex, move furniture, vacuum, mop, or drive (you can start driving when you can slam on your breaks without pain and are no longer on pain medication, usually 2-3 weeks post-op.)
7. TAKE CARE OF YOUR EMOTIONAL NEEDS– As you are taking care of your physical needs be sure to take care of your emotional needs as well. Your body is experiencing a lot. It is hard enough taking care of a newborn, possibly other children as well, plus recovering from surgery. It’s ok if your emotional and mental state isn’t exactly where you want it to be. Make sure you are talking about your feelings and frustrations. Make sure you have good emotional support and are expressing your thoughts and feelings.
8. EAT A NUTRIENT FILLED DIET– Make sure you are eating good, healthy foods, high in iron, fiber, and protein; drinks lots of water.
9. BE PATIENT– This will probably be the longest, most tiring 6 weeks of your life, but it will pass, I promise! Be patient with your body and don’t compare it to other people who have had c-sections, everyone is different. If it takes you longer to heal don’t think you are doing something wrong, you’re not, your body just takes longer and that’s ok, be patient.
I hope this list is helpful to you on recovering from your c-section. Good luck! I’m so sorry you have to go through this, it’s no fun! Luckily, you have a beautiful, sweet baby to help distract you a little bit from all this.
Please keep reminding yourself that you just had MAJOR SURGERY! It may not seem that way because we hear about c-sections all the time and they are so common that I think it takes away from the severity of it. But it’s a BIG DEAL! It’s SURGERY! It’s going to take time to heal and you have to take all the necessary precautions to make sure you do.
For a more detailed list on all the things no one tells you about c-sections go HERE