However your little one enters the world, giving birth is tiring and your body needs time to heal. A C-Section involves major abdominal surgery, but with a new born to look after it can be difficult to give yourself the recovery time you need.
Here are our top 10 tips for helping you on your way to a speedy recovery post C-Section.
Once the epidural has worn off it’s a good idea to start moving. This can be as soon as 4-6 hours after the operation. Sitting on the side of the bed or standing for a few minutes may be all you can manage initially before you need to rest again. Walking around the bed or to the bathroom as soon as you are able will encourage blood flow and speed up wound healing.
You may find you have some trapped gas following surgery, which can be quite painful; walking helps to disperse this gas, as well as encourage bowel movement and avoid constipation, which can be uncomfortable following surgery. Walking will also decrease your risk of blood clots, DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and infections.
Staying hydrated is essential to aid your body with healing and general recovery. It is recommended to drink six to eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. This will help reduce unwanted side effects from the anaesthetic, as well as constipation and other common complications that can arise from surgery.
Drinking plenty of water will also help you to feel more mentally alert, having a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing.
3. Eat Well
Fuelling your body with healthy foods allows your body to gain maximum nutritional benefits from the foods it processes. This means your body can focus on using more energy to heal itself, rather than wasting energy processing foods with low nutritional value.
4. Rest and Sleep
Although it is good to get moving, conserving your energy and getting plenty of rest and sleep will give your body the best chance of healing quickly. Your body works most efficiently when you sleep as it can concentrate the majority of its energy on healing, rather than other tasks, such as fuelling your muscles when you are active.
As mentioned in point 1, it is necessary to balance rest with some mobility. Listening to your body to establish the right balance of rest and mobility is key to helping your body heal at the right pace.
5. Pain Relief
Maintaining adequate pain relief after surgery is very important. Managing your pain will ensure you are able to walk, thus promoting wound healing and reducing many post op complications, such as blood clots. If you are in too much pain to cough it can put you at risk of developing pneumonia. Having good pain control will allow you to sleep better, thus giving your body maximum healing opportunity.
It is much better to maintain a consistent level of pain relief, rather than waiting until you feel in pain, which results in a long wait before the pain relief takes effect.
6. Listen to your Body
A C-Section involves major abdominal surgery so your body will need time to heal and won't tolerate being rushed; following guidance from your medical team and listening to your body will aid your recovery and allow you to return to your normal activities as quickly as possible.
7. Ask for Help
It is important not to do anything which puts strain on your abdomen for at least 6 weeks after surgery. You shouldn’t lift anything heavier than your baby during this period, so if you have other children don’t be afraid to ask for help from family or friends.
Reaching out to family and friends can help you to feel connected and supported at a time when you may be feeling over whelmed and emotional.
Note that in the UK driving is not allowed until 6 weeks post op to ensure you can safely perform an emergency stop if necessary, so you may need to ask for someone to take you to check up appointments etc.
8. Compression Stockings
During the operation you will be given IV fluids to help your body through the surgery. As a result, you will probably notice quite a lot of swelling post op. This tends to be in your feet and legs and around your abdomen where the wound sits and can extend around the hips.
Wearing compression stockings can help to push the fluid up the body to drainage sites within the lymphatic system, thus helping to remove it from the body faster. Severe swelling of the legs, ankles and feet can hinder mobility so helping to remove this fluid as quickly as possible will help to aid overall recovery and have you feeling more able again.
The swelling can take a few weeks to reduce; staying well hydrated and being mobile will help your body get rid of this excess fluid. It is also common to be swollen in the face for a day or so following surgery, so don’t worry if you are looking quite full in the face!
9. Check Your Wound
Regularly checking your incision site (or having someone else inspect it!) is very important in order to catch early signs of possible infection. Inspecting your wound several times a day for the first 2 weeks will allow you to become familiar with what it looks like and if there are any changes in appearance, e.g. it becomes pink, red or inflamed or has any pus around the area (all of which should prompt you to seek medical advice!).
Given the size of the operation, any small infection could rapidly spread and become more serious quite quickly. If you do notice anything unusual, contact your midwife or GP immediately as you may require some antibiotics. Quick intervention will help to limit any delay in healing.
10. Vitamin and Iron Supplements
During surgery you will naturally lose a certain amount of blood. Alongside the unwanted side effects from the anaesthetic, the blood loss can exacerbate feelings of light headedness and nausea for a few hours after surgery. Taking vitamin and iron supplements can give you an essential boost of goodness to help kick start your body’s recovery process.
If you experienced a higher than average blood loss (more commonly so with an emergency C-Section, rather than a planned c-section) you may be prescribed some stronger iron tablets to help your body regenerate the blood loss more quickly and thus aid you in a speedier recovery.
Your C-Section Recovery
Just remember, everyone recovers at their own pace, so it is important to listen to your body and rest when you need to. Always seek medical advice if you are feeling unwell or are worried about your physical or mental recovery after having your baby.
We wish you all the very best for a safe delivery and a speedy recovery,
The Bamboo Baby Company