Recovering after having a baby takes time, even more so if you’ve had a Caesarean. Here’s how to take care of yourself so you heal, and feel better, faster.
Look after number one, plus one
Once you’re home from hospital, delegate as much as possible to your partner, relatives or good friends. Concentrate on your baby and yourself. ‘It is important that you remain mobile and active, but with time built into your day to rest for long periods. You should not be lifting or pulling heavy objects, or doing any unnecessary cleaning,’ is Allyson’s William’s advice.
During caesarean recovery don’t lift anything heavier than your baby for up to six weeks so that your tummy muscles have a chance to heal. Your tummy will also suffer less strain if you get up by rolling on your side first, drawing your knees towards your chest, then sitting up and using your hands to push yourself up to stand.
Have a laugh
You’re probably not aware of how much you use your tummy muscles until they’ve been through surgery. So to help lessen the pain or discomfort following a caesarean, hold a soft pillow against your tummy for the first few days, or beyond if you need to, when coughing, laughing, breastfeeding… and doing a poo.
On that subject, to make it easier to go to the loo, drink lots and eat plenty of fruit to help keep your stools soft. And to cut down on painful wind – another unpleasant side effect – give fizzy drinks a miss for the first few days at least and drink peppermint tea instead.
Even if you can’t do much more after your Caesarean than lie or sit down at first, keep all your down-below bits in shape by doing your pelvic floor exercises. These may feel uncomfortable at first but they also help to support your back and your abdomen. ‘Pelvic floor exercises are the most relevant ones to do at this time, as they strengthen the pelvic floor, which supports the abdominal organs including the bladder, says Allyson Williams.‘Your community midwife will be able to give information on other exercises to do when you get to six weeks after the birth. It is not possible to start exercising before this time.’
All about you
To help your caesarean heal, take good care of yourself. That’s not easy with a new baby, so ask for help with chores, shopping, cooking and looking after older siblings so you can focus on you and your newborn. Eat nutritious snacks and meals and drink plenty of water. Get as much rest as possible, relax and take a soothing bath if you can at the end of the day. Literally, put your feet up so that you’re lessening the strain on your tummy muscles and letting them heal up.
Smooth cream or oil into your Caesarean scar to help it heal and fade and to keep it soft so it doesn’t itch as much. Gently massaging the scar once it’s healing well and your stitches have dissolved may also help flatten it over time. You can get specialist caesarean scar lotions or try Bio-Oil, from chemists, or a cocoa butter cream. Massage and reflexology are thought to be helpful for post-caesarean recovery. So find a trained practitioner and indulge yourself – you deserve it.
Your emotions will be all over the place after having a baby. You’ll be tired, and may be weepy or depressed, and recovery from c-section may also affect how you feel. Talk to your health visitor or doctor if those feelings don’t pass within a few days. And try Bounty’s Caesarean forum to share how you’re feeling with other mums.
Keep on moving
Go for a walk every day to get your circulation going (important after surgery), strengthen your muscles, have some fresh air and get out of the house. Ask your partner/friend/relative to go with you to push the baby in the buggy or carry him or her in a sling for the first few days after you’re home, or longer, if you still feel a bit wobbly or uncomfortable.
During your caesarean recovery time sitting or standing upright may make you feel as if your stitches are going to pop. Don’t worry, they aren’t, so although you may want to hunch over to protect your tummy, try and straighten up gradually to stretch and strengthen your abdominal muscles and protect your back.