Cesarean Birth Recovery - Part 1
April is Cesarean Awareness Month!
1 in 3 mamas will give birth via cesarean. Yet, after a Cesarean birth, most women go home with little to no education or support on how to actually recover from this MAJOR abdominal surgery they just had... LET'S CHANGE THAT NARRATIVE!
Recovery tips for early postpartum
So you bring a new baby home... Now what?!
In those first couple of days at home with your new baby, it's super important to get your rest and enjoy the baby snuggles. Rest, recovery and nutrition is a vital part of the healing process for our bodies, especially the scar tissue that is forming.
Resist the urge to get started on the laundry or the dishes that are piling up. Let someone else help with those tasks. Instead, focus on breath, eating nutrient dense foods and moving slowly throughout your day.
There are things we can do to aid in our recovery:
Log rolling in and out of bed
Using this technique will help reduce the amount of stress to your abdominal wall and aid in the recovery of your cesarean incision. The goal is to roll yourself over in bed by using your gluts to lift your hips slightly. Then you can use gravity to your advantage as the weight of your legs helps as you push yourself up with your hands or your trunk helps to lower you down as your legs lift up.
Watch the video below:
Abdominal and scar mobility
During your early postpartum days, we recommend that you start with diaphragmatic breathing immediately. By breathing and expanding with your breath you are taking your abdominal wall through range of motion which helps to mobilize your healing incision from the inside out.
This was a major abdominal surgery and multiple layers of tissue were disrupted. It is important to continue to work on the surgical area to allow for the most optimal healing. When you feel ready, you can begin to gently massage around your scar which will help to prevent restrictions in your abdominal tissue further down the road. Be sure that if your incision is still healing (meaning there is still a slight opening or scabbing present) to massage and mobilize AROUND the incision, not directly on your incision (yet...).
Here are a few ideas for mobilization and activation of the abdominal wall that are safe in the early postpartum days.
Gentle abdominal massage/mobility (see video below)
At approximately 6 weeks your incision should be fully healed and closed (no openings or scabs present). At this point you can being to gently massage, stretch, mobilize directly over your scar as well. See below for a progression.
Other things to set you up for success
First poop. Yes, you are reading this correctly. That first bowel movement following baby can be a dreaded experience (no matter what type of birth you had). Quick tips are (1) stay hydrated. Always. (2) Use a squatty potty or something to prop your feet on and focus on breathing through it. This will ensure that your pelvic floor is relaxed and able to fully evacuate. (3) Take those stool softeners and eat a nutrient, fiber dense diet to help pass that BM with more ease.
Hydration. Staying hydrated can help aid in recovery during this early postpartum time for a variety of reasons. As previously mentioned, staying hydrated can help with bowel movements. Aside from all poop talk, drinking lots of water can help with healing and recovery time because we are nourishing our tissues. Lastly, if you are a breastfeeding or pumping mama, staying hydrating can help with milk supply. And by hydration, we mean WATER. I know that coffee is tempting due to the lack of sleep and energy, but we highly encourage you to reach for that glass (or bottle) of water FIRST :)
Nutrition. This goes along with hydration. It is so very important to nourish yourself during this early postpartum period. Your body just did an amazing thing and you should reward that beautiful body with good quality food to help us recover and heal. Also, if you choose to breastfeed or pump, nutrition is huge in providing nourishment for both yourself AND baby. Under-eating or can lead to feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, irritability, and can impede or slow down the recovery process.
Supplies basket. What in the heck is that? Since those first couple of days, and possibly weeks, can be exhausting with a newborn (and maybe other littles or furry friends), we recommend having a basket of "goodies" and healthy snacks next to you throughout the day. Because you will definitely have those times when you get all cozy on the couch, ready to feed baby or snuggle while they snooze and realize, "I haven't eaten today" or "I forgot a burp cloth". So it can be beneficial to have a basket or bag of items close to you that you will most likely use throughout the day to avoid the getting in/out of bed or on/off the couch, and so on. These items could include diapers, wipes, water, nipple shields, bottles/formula, lotion, burp cloths, blanket, extra pair of clothes for baby (and yourself), water, fruit, nuts, etc.
Ask for help. Let's repeat that. Ask for help or accept the help that is offered. You may feel that you need to do it all, organize it all, clean it all. You don't. Let them love on you as much as they are loving on that new babe.
Good luck mama! You are amazing!
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