Moms expect things to be different after they have a child. They are warned about the sleep deprivation and the physical changes, but there are parts of the postpartum life that no one can fully prepare mom to experience.
There are also unexpected factors, like how the baby enters the world, that can change what life after baby looks like. Moms who delivered their children vaginally will experience unique changes postpartum. Moms who had C-sections, however, will experience a plethora of change since they not only had a child but also experienced a major surgery, many of them while they were awake.
The transition to becoming a new mom or a mom of more than one child is demanding enough. The added changes that come with recovering from or coping with a C-section can make the situation even more difficult to handle. Something that helps moms? Knowing the changes they are experiencing are normal, and that there are other women going through the same thing.
All moms are different, but there are some common changes that C-section moms experience. While a C-section delivery can be peaceful and without complications, the recovery is still extensive. Plus, most moms have no trouble admitting that there is an emotional component to recovery from a surgery instead of a vaginal delivery. Psychologically and physically, it may take longer to feel like life is moving towards normal.
Though it might feel like everything is out of sorts in the beginning, don’t fear. The changes moms go through after a Caesarean section are normal.
15 Longing For A Bath
For a while, mom is restricted to showers. Due to stitches or staples and a huge long line where the body was cut open, being submerged in water is not an option. In fact, mom may be stuck in showers for six to eight weeks depending on what her doctor says.
For women who depend on the warm baths for relaxation and pain management, taking only showers can be hard. However, it’s important that mom follows this rule to let her incision heal appropriately. She will even have to be careful not to expose her incision to direct water in the shower.
This is a small sacrifice, but it can add to mom not feeling quite normal or back to herself. Some women even feel less clean because they have to be careful with their stitches or staples and may not feel that area truly gets clean. With all of the changes that take place after a baby is born, it’s normal for even minor restrictions to seem huge.
14 Sadness Over Loss
Women who have C-sections are grateful that their children are safe and found their way into the world the best way they could. However, they may also have conflicted feelings about the loss of a vaginal birth, especially if they really hoped for one.
Many women feel the need to recover from their C-section not only physically but emotionally. They experience feelings of failure or disappointment since they weren’t able to follow their birth plan. Many women feel like they didn’t even truly “birth” their child since they had to be cut open. None of this is true, but it’s normal to need to explore these feelings after a C-section.
It’s important to know that many moms go through this, and support can be found both online and in person. If the feelings become overwhelming, mom needs to seek help from her doctor. There is no shame in talking about these feelings and seeking reassurance that a C-section isn’t failure.
13 The Pooch
Moms often call it the pooch. It’s that lump right above the C-section scar that will not flatten out no matter what mom does. In the beginning, the pooch may have included the C-section incision since that area is swollen after delivery. However, the swelling disappears as the weeks wear on, but that pooch right above the scar usually stays put.
Is it possible to make it disappear? Maybe. The reasons for the pooch are many, so it depends. Scar tissue is an obvious side effect of C-sections, and scar tissue or adhesions in that area may leave some bumpy evidence. There’s also the issue of skin. Some women have skin that bounces back from anything, and others have skin that once stretched will not recover. That’s pretty much just luck and genetics.
Finally, there’s the F word: fat. Obviously, losing fat helps remove fatty tissue that may be collecting around that area. However, don’t assume diet and exercise will save mom. Some women follow all the rules and still end up with the pooch.
Cosmetic surgery is an option, and Spanx may also come in handy. However, here’s an even better idea: wear that pooch like the awesomeness that it is. Surviving a C-section is mighty, and there’s no reason to hide the evidence unless you really can’t bear to live with it.
12 Moving In Slow Motion
Though nurses make C-section moms walk around the day after a major surgery, mom will find that she can’t move quickly, and unexpected movements can bring on excruciating pain. The first time mom flies straight up out of bed to reach for her crying child, she will truly understand how much pain is leftover after a C-section.
Still, some moms feel tempted to jump right back into their normal routine. Here’s some solid advice: don’t. A mom who is recovering from a C-section has just experienced her muscles and tissues being sliced open, and her uterus actually spent time outside of her body. Those are not small things. For a woman to heal properly, she needs to follow the rules of recovery and take it one tiny, slow step at a time.
It’s hard enough to get used to taking care of an infant. Adding a major abdominal surgery into the mix is overkill. Mom should rest when she can, stay hydrated, and not attempt anything that might slow down the healing process. There will be time for hard core exercise and a busy schedule, but this isn’t it.
11 Fear Of Having Another C-Section
Even if the C-section was uneventful, except for the birth of a human of course, mom may harbor fears of a repeat performance. Many women live with the idea that once a C-section, always a C-section. While this advice is not technically accurate all of the time, it is true that many doctors push for repeat C-sections once mom has had one. For moms, this can be a terrifying thought.
A C-section is a major surgery, and it is impossible to make a sterile operating room a cozy, warm birthing space. There are sharp tools, bright lights, and doctors in masks. It’s an intimidating environment and not one many women envision for the birth of their child. Add to that the recovery from a C-section, and mom may wonder if she wants to have more children if another C-section is part of the deal.
Don’t make this decision right away. Just like women say the pain of a vaginal delivery eventually fades from memory, so do the aches and pains associated with a C-section. It may take some time, but many moms decide it’s worth the risk, and some even end up VBACing with their next child. Face the fear, but don’t let it call the shots.
10 Isolated Without Wheels
Mom may feel a bit housebound after a C-section. Women who experience this major surgery are banned from driving for two weeks. It’s not that moms aren’t capable of driving. The problem is that the pain around their incision site automatically makes them move slower. That means if mom needs to slam on her brakes quickly to avoid an accident, she may hesitate as her mind calculates the cost of the pain. That split second delay can cause tragedy.
If mom is feeling disconnected from the outside world, she should call friends and family to visit. In fact, on their way over they can stop by the grocery store and pick up necessary items to help mom get through the coming days.
Some moms don’t mind the reprieve from the road. In fact, this mandatory time-out is what some moms need to truly focus on healing and bonding with baby. It’s easy to get caught up in all the places we think we need to be, but without a way to get there on our own, we can refocus on self-care.
9 Trouble With Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can be tricky for any woman. While it is a natural process, it doesn’t always feel natural. Milk can come in late, nipples can crack, and boobs can get so sore it’s hard to even think of having little person near them. There are also sometimes issues with baby not wanting to latch properly.
Moms who have C-sections are especially prone to breastfeeding woes because of the time between when their child is born and when the baby is allowed to latch. Since C-sections take place in sterile operating rooms with super low temperatures, babies don’t get to hang out with mom very long after birth. In fact, after a quick snuggle, babies are taken to the nursery or a recovery room to wait while mom is put back together. Though it’s usually not a long wait for baby, those crucial minutes make a big difference. By the time mom arrives, baby is usually pretty hungry and may be too upset to latch properly. Plus, mom will probably feel a bit foggy from the spinal, so she may have trouble working with baby.
If this happens, don’t despair. A good lactation specialist can help mom and baby get back on track. If mom wants to breastfeed, she should keep trying. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay. Formula was created for a reason.
8 Feeling Detached Postpartum
Every mom risks feeling detached from her motherhood experience. Postpartum depression and shock due to all the changes taking place can interfere with mom having all the feel-good emotions people thinking of when they imagine having a child. However, moms who have C-sections may be more at risk for this problem.
Due to the medication used during a C-section, mom may feel zoned out during the actual C-section. That means when the baby arrives, she could still be swimming up from a fog of drugs and miss the early attachment feeling some women have with their newborns.
This feeling can spill into the days and weeks to come, especially if mom had to be separated from her baby during or after the C-section. While it is still possible for mom to recoup those early missed opportunities, the lack of early skin-to-skin time and the disoriented feelings that come with all the medication may leave mom reeling.
Again, this is normal, but if it becomes overwhelming or mom fears she will never be able to recover from these early losses, she should talk to her doctor. It’s always okay to reach out for support.
7 Gas Pain Blues
The first bowel movement after a C-section has to happen in the hospital, and it is excruciating. Being forced to use muscles that have just been cut open and sewn or stapled back together is cruel and unusual, and mom may dread the bathroom for weeks after this encounter.
However, the pain won’t disappear completely for a while. Women may experience gas pains for days or weeks after surgery. Air stuck in the abdomen causes pain so intense that mom has to change positions to get relief. In fact, walking usually helps relieve these pains, but they can still be rather intense. Passing this air from the body by, well, tooting will relieve the pain, so move until you feel that blessed release.
Moms may want to stay away from foods known to cause gas after a C-section. They will increase gas pains, and they may cause gas issues for the baby if mom is breastfeeding.
6 Reliance On Pain Meds
For moms who don’t enjoy taking medication, the post C-section world can be a bit difficult to navigate. While it’s imperative to make sure pain medications won’t harm a mom who is breastfeeding or make her overly drowsy, mom does need to be prepared to take pain medication after surgery.
Not only is mom recovering from being cut in half like that lady in the box at the magic show. Her body is also trying to help with the process by causing her uterus to contract back down to normal size. Breastfeeding adds to the contractions, and it’s not hard to imagine how awful that feels since the uterus has been sliced open very recently.
As long as mom doesn’t get addicted to pain medication, taking prescribed meds after a C-section is fine. Mom will be able to wean off of them as days go by, but it’s hard to rest or support a child if mom is living in near constant pain. Moms should give themselves permission to take the edge off until the worst has passed.
5 Feeling Mentally Slow
Moms who are used to moving at the speed of light will be disappointed after their C-section. The very nature of a C-section, where fat, tissue, and muscle are cut, means mom has to move slowly for the foreseeable future. What mom may not expect is that she experiences mommy brain very early on, and that will have her mind moving slowly as well.
Due to the medications used during surgery, which will include a spinal or epidural to numb mom, anti-nausea medicine to keep her from throwing up, and loads of pain medication to help her with comfort, mom may still feel foggy even after she returns home. Plus, she will probably need pain medication to get through the first week, and the pain medication may make her tired or sluggish.
This is all normal, and sleep deprivation won’t help. As these medicines make their way out of mom’s system, she will start to feel normal again, or at least she’ll feel the new normal of being a mom. Mom doesn’t need to overly exert herself, and she needs to pay special attention to what her body is telling her. The days and weeks after a C-section are not the times for mom to push it or prove she doesn’t need any help. She needs to be comfortable moving at a slow pace, mentally and physically, and she needs to practice loads of self-care.
4 No Nookie
Honestly, in the first days of pain and sleep deprivation following a C-section, mom is probably not going to be thinking about how she can score under the sheets with dad. It just doesn’t factor into reality. However, as weeks go on, mom may find herself longing to be intimate with this man, especially as she watches him become an attentive father. The problem is, her body may not be ready.
Most healthcare providers recommend a six week waiting period for intercourse after a C-section. All bleeding needs to have stopped, and then extra time needs to go by so the inside of mom’s body can heal properly. Some doctors will actually recommend eight weeks to be safe.
It’s also necessary to consider birth control. Women need to use birth control since they will be very fertile right after birth, but it’s not a particularly good time to get pregnant. A body needs time to recover after birth, and especially after a C-section.
Mom may physically feel the desire for some lovin’ but be scared of what it will feel like. She should talk to her partner about the fears before they move forward. It’s important for everyone to be comfortable before intimacy takes place.
3 Endless Bleeding
Okay, the bleeding isn’t endless, but it does feel like it takes forever to stop. Plus, mom may be surprised to find she is bleeding so profusely when she didn’t have a vaginal delivery. Unfortunately, no one escapes the bleeding, no matter how they deliver.
The lochia bleeding that takes place after birth can start out heavy, and mom will be required to wear heavy pads to keep from bleeding through clothes. The bleeding will eventually slow down, but if a woman does too much too soon, it will get heavy again. That’s another reason limited physical activity is a must for the first several weeks of recovery.
This blood will become a discharge that may change colors as the days pass. If there is any reason to suspect infection or if pain increases with bleeding, call a doctor to report the symptoms. The bleeding will stop, but until then mom will feel like she has the period from hell.
2 More Doctor’s Appointments
Because a C-section is a major surgery, there are follow-up appointments that mom must go to after leaving the hospital. The first one that usually takes place around the two week mark can be difficult since mom is not supposed to drive at this point. A six week appointment will also be scheduled to make sure the incision has healed properly.
Mom probably hoped all the visits to the doctor were over after the baby arrived, but that’s not the case, especially if she had a C-section. Though follow-up appointments won’t last forever, there can be more than two if the incision is infected or if there is any need for concern. While this doesn’t happen to most women, it’s frustrating for those who experience it to feel like they are still living in the gynecologist's office even after giving birth.
This too shall pass, but the timetable is different for every woman.
1 The Weird Numbness
When mom finally feels her lower half again after a C-section, she will probably only feel pain. Luckily, that will fade and a new feeling will take its place: numbness. Though better than the pain, the numbness can catch mom off guard if she isn’t expecting it.
The numbness is normal, but it’s freaky. The reason for it is usually nerve damage from where the cut into the body was made. It’s also possible for the epidural or spinal to cause some lingering numbness, though that usually doesn’t account for the kind that lasts for months.
In time, some women report the numbness disappearing completely. However, many women still report that years later their C-section scar is still numb. It’s not as noticeable of a feeling as the years pass, but if a woman touches the scar, she will notice that tingling feeling instead of actually being able to feel normal pressure.
Yeah, it’s weird, but it will become less troublesome as time goes by. Mom just needs to be very careful while healing, because she may scratch or rub the incision site without being able to feel it. This can cause major problems.