A woman finds herself two weeks overdue, then her doctor tells her, "It's time to consider a c-section." In her mind there is nothing to consider. She does not want to go under the knife, and who can blame her? No one wants major surgery. Soon she finds herself, questioning everything about her body. That doesn't really comfort her, in fact it makes it worse. The fear of not properly bonding with the baby takes over and she panics. I am going to stop right there and say get educated. The best way to prepare for a major surgery is to learn about it, and know what to expect. Instead of panicking, ask how long are the affects of a cesarean, and will I ever be able to wear a bathing suit again?
When my doctor approached me about my emergency c-section, all I could hear was the pounding of my heart. I felt like a failure because my body couldn't "perform" properly. I felt lost and confused. If I had only known what a cesarean was like, if only I had spoken to women who had under gone this procedure. There was no time to learn about it, all I could do was live through it. I had to embrace for the experience to come and educate myself on post surgery life. I soon surrounded myself with cesarean friends, and we talked about our experiences. I felt better knowing I was not alone.
14 Blood From The Nile
We all have heard the story of Moses and how he used his staff to turn the Nile River into blood. That's pretty much what a c-section feels like postpartum. For about six weeks the body will undergo a surgical period. Buy large pads to help with this. The smell of surgical periods is unpleasant; it smells like moth balls and dying fish. And no it is not an actual period, it is just the body bleeding out a little from the major surgery that just took place.
I knew about this endless period, but experiencing it was a bit terrifying at first. I knew this was considered normal for someone like me. I felt fragile and anytime I moved more blood would appear. The doctors reassured me that I was healing properly. Whenever more blood would come, I would constantly change my pads to keep myself clean. The bleeding went away in time and I eventually healed. For no reason under the sun was I allowed to use tampons. My physicians told me I had to wait until my first postnatal visit to see if I could use them for the bleeding. I ended up not using them, I did not feel right using them. The pads seem to be doing their job well, even if the smell was still present.
13 Delayed Breastfeeding
It effects breastfeeding. It is said that mothers who deliver by cesarean are less likely to breastfeed. Some believe it is because of how uncomfortable it is for the mother, post surgery. Others would argue that because the babies are not given to the mother, until later after delivery, it causes a delay in the time for mother and baby to bond. This delayed bonding causes stress on the mother, making it harder for her to nurse.As someone who has had two c-sections, I can assure you that breastfeeding is possible. I was a ninja at it. If you are struggling to nurse, contact your local hospital's lactation consultant for help. Don't let the bond between mother and new born be ruined by the surgery.
12 Lasting Scar Pain
To this day I experience deep scar tissue pain from my cesareans. There have even been women, who have reported experiencing scar pain seven years post-surgery. Whether is it psychological, due to the trauma on the body, or actual pain it is still there. No one knows how long this pain lasts. It is different for every person. I can tell you first hand that the pain comes and goes. Sometimes I might carry something the wrong way and the scar pain returns. It has been thirteen months since my last c-section, but the pain is still there and is very real. Sometimes needing to go to the restroom triggers the deepening inflammation. I find lying down and holding a pillow against the scar to help.
11 Baby Blues Are Stronger
There is the normal baby blues and postnatal depression after a delivery, but in some cases it can be stronger in cesarean mothers. With all the hormones leaving our bodies and the new life change happening all at once, it can be overwhelming for new and veteran mothers. When you add a surgery to the mix, is makes it more stressful. The mother not only has to adjust to her new role, but she has to recover and attempt to get rest in this new chapter of her life. This seems next to impossible at times. Relax and take a deep breath. It is important for you to surround yourself with a good support team, whether it is friends, family, or mentors. People in your life want to help you, and as much as bonding with the new baby is important, it is just as important for you to give your body the time it needs to heal. Usually it takes six weeks for the body to recovery from this major surgery. Ask people to help you lift things, do not go cleaning your house for you may reopen your stitches. I surrounded myself with my parents, and they let me and my husband take a nap while they got in their new born snuggles.
10 Bathing Suits Will Never Be The Same
I remember being eight years old and seeing my grandmother's vertical cesarean scar. When the doctor informed me of my emergency c-section, I remembered my grandmother and her scar. No one told me it was a horizontal incision. I had visions of me wearing a one piece for the rest of my days, like my grandma. I remember my grandma's horror stories of being in pain and agony, well no wonder. It was a different time and a different medical procedure. Do not go and hide your c-section body, go and buy that bikini and show your new body off to the world. Your body will prove that you are mother, and no one should expect you to be anything less.
The summer after my first cesarean was the most awkward. I did not feel like myself. I was 24 and not sure of my body. I was depressed and looked back on photos of the skinny me, in college at 19. I was wearing those bikinis and having a grand time. I just couldn't be that girl anymore. My body had a large scar on it. Even though I could have worn that bikini and had the scar hidden behind it. I just couldn't bring myself to. Feeling out of sorts in my body, on the side of the swimming pool, is no way for a new mother to spend her summer. So I hid my scar and my body under a one piece bathing suit. Only to find out later in August that I was having my second child. Meaning I was in for a second c-section and a following summer of hiding. How do we prepare and embrace for this new version of ourselves? C-sections are like cocoons you don't know what sort of butterfly or moth, you will become on the other side.
9 Showering Will Be Different For Awhile
One of the most important things a mother can do for herself, is to take proper care of her incision. After the surgery you might want to itch the scar, don't it could harm the stitches. My scar was so itchy for days after the surgery. When you are in the shower make sure to not scrub your incision, this could also harm the stitches. Keeping the incision clean from infection is the best way to go. When I was recovering from my first c-section, my father bought me a medical chair to sit on in the shower. This made it easier to take a shower, and allowed me to feel more normal as I showered. I didn't have to worry about standing for long periods of time, I could just sit there and let the water rain my pain away.Taking baths is also a big no post-surgery. As tempting as a bath might be, waiting six weeks before a soak is the best advice you could take. You do not want the water to enter or leak onto your incision. I am a lover of bath tubs, it was hard for me to wait for them. If I can wait then so can you.
8 Carrying Objects Is Excruciating
You may feel like the Hulk or Mr. Incredible, because you have just survived a c-section. But you aren't. I will be honest, I was stubborn while I recovered from surgery. They told me to only lift the baby and nothing heavier. This made me feel limited. I felt useless to those around me. So I ignored their advice and tried to go back to my normal cleaning the house routine. I lifted vacuums and boxes. I later regretted it. I didn't reopen my stitches or anything dramatic, but I am pretty sure I delayed my healing process by a month. If I had been more patient and less stubborn, I could have saved myself from this. Being the perfectionist that I am, I refused to let anyone clean or help.
Do not be like me. Give yourself the time your body needs to properly heal, you will thank yourself later if you do. Don't go lifting vacuum cleaners or go getting ideas that you can save the world like Superman, because you can't right now. The only person you need to be Superman for is you new baby. If I could have a do over, this would be in my top ten.
7 Going To The Bathroom Hurts
It might take a week for a bowel movement to take place, but when it does it will hurt. You might be sitting there on that porcelain chair for a good hour or so, waiting for your Lincoln logs to fall. It's just the truth, the muscles you need right now for pushing are the very ones that you just can not use. It hurts so badly to even try to use them to push. If you have to take a million years to go, then take a million years. Better to wait then hurt your incision.
Another thing no one tells you about post c-section bathroom experiences, is all the constipation you might be feeling. All the medication, your lack in appetite, your new nursing career, and your dehydration are all reasons for possible post-surgery constipation. Talk to your doctor about how to relieve this problem if it arises.
Remember to have an affection for that c-section, for it is the reason your little baby is by your side. Here are a few remedies for constipation; drinking lots of water and eating plenty of fiber. Another important one is rest. You may also be experiencing a lack in iron in your diet, for this reason consider eating lots of meat, spinach, kale, green veggies, or taking an iron supplement.
6 Sleeping Is The Most Difficult Thing For You
If you thought sleeping pregnant was the most uncomfortable experience of your life, then check again. Sleeping with a new born crying in the background and trying to recover from surgery is a whole level of fatigue. As you recover from those sleepless nights, that surgical pain, and those dark circles under your eyes, just remember this too shall pass. This moment of recovery will not last forever. Ask your husband, boyfriend, or a relative to take the reigns for a bit so you can sleep. The only way I survived those sleepless nights, were my day time naps. If your night time sleep sucks, surrender to the nap time sandman.It is painful to sleep comfortably. You still need to abide by those pregnancy sleep position guidelines. Sleeping on your stomach is not an option, that will obviously hurt the stitches. I was most comfortable propped up will a pillow behind my back. Sleeping in a reclining rocking chair was also one of my favorite resting places. However you can sleep, surrender to it and do it while you can. Count those sheep and protect your scar while you sleep.
5 You Will Never Want To Eat Again
I remember I didn't want to eat after my surgery. Sure I was hungry in the hospital, but after they sent me home I didn't want to eat anything. "You have to eat, so the baby can nurse." I just didn't want to, that feeling of being bloated or full after eating was just too painful. Anything in the stomach was painful, even hunger pains, as I later found out. I just had to make myself eat. Your appetite might not be there, but your child is and they are always hungry. If you don't want to eat for yourself that is understandable. Eat for your child. Take pain medication, if you have to so you can eat. I ended up using pain medicine to numb my body and eating became less of an issue. About a week and a half after surgery is when my appetite returned. I could eat full meals and felt like a starved camel. I ate like an herbivore grassing on the Savannah. Just remember to eat what sounds good and to keep eating to feed that new baby.
4 The Bed Is Covered In Cobwebs
Sex what is sex? Why on earth would I even want sex, I just had surgery? These might be some of the questions you ask yourself when it comes to sex postpartum. No girl wants to perform after any type of delivery. This is especially true for mothers who delivery by cesarean.
Your partner might tell you they miss you. But right now you need to focus on your healing process. If you get the okay from your doctor to go ahead and have sex again, then go ahead and go. There is not time frame for when it is the most appropriate for women to engage in sexual activity again. It takes about six weeks for your body to recover from surgery. But who wants to get pregnant right away? Not you. Some women have needed to wait up to six months, before they felt normal again in their bodies. It is up to you, your doctor, and your partner when you will engage in sex again. And ask your doctor what type of birth control you can take, so you can give your body a proper healing before you conceive again.
3 Children Will Not Let You Recover
You look down and see your precious two year old. He is extending his arms up to you, because he misses you. He misses his snuggles and is clearly jealous of the new baby. The one thing he will never understand is your surgery. How do you explain to a toddler that you can't lift them up? It's simple, you try. You tell them over and over again, even if they don't understand. The best thing you can do for your toddler is to sit down and let them sit on your lap, with their feet facing away from your incision. The truth is you will be able to hold him or her in about six weeks.
They might be in your face about everything, but you need to recover. Try to approach them cautiously, because they are at the age where they think they can fly on everything, including you. Suddenly 'mommy' becomes a word that means, I need attention. It might be hard to know that you can't throw them in the air or run after them. Try coloring, watching a movie, or reading to them. Save the horse play to daddy, friends and relative time.
2 You Feel Like A Warrior
We all know the famous scene in Mulan, where she is on the battle field about to destroy Shan Yu. Her plan then backfires and she is wounded by his sword. For the longest time, this is how I felt about my recovering body. I felt like I had been sliced open by Shan Yu's sword. I was convinced that I was a reincarnated warrior of some culture long ago. It explained why I felt so terrible, and why to this day I still feel like I am being cut open.In a way, surgery is a battle field. You go in armed with your partner, and come out with a baby and a battle scar. It is this scar that will last with us for the rest of our days. Some women add to their battle scars by placing tattoos upon them. I myself got a tattoo, not on the scar but on my ankle. It is my symbol for overcoming this delivery battle, that only 30% of women face. Getting that tattoo was therapeutic for me, it helped me regain a little bit of myself. Look at your battle scar and know you will always be a fighter, because you are a mother.
1 Medication Sensation
Medication was my best friend, when I came home from the hospital. I always wanted to take it so I would feel nothing. I am guessing some women have a higher pain tolerance than myself, and don't need as much medicine as I did. Getting cut into is no walk in the woods, it is serious pain that only those of us who have endured it will understand. The medicine I was prescribed with lasted up to ten days post-surgery. This is typical for anyone recovering from a cesarean. Talk to your doctor about the drugs, prescriptions and medications you might need after a cesarean. Remember education is key to your healing process, it will help you better understand what is happening to you. I was on Percocet for the pain and another medication to help with bowel movements. Also keep in mind these medications can make you constipated. When the doctor prescribes you with the drugs to help you go, you will appreciate this one when the time comes.
Sources: midwiferytoday.com, medscape.com, healthpages.org, thebump.com, healthline.com