It’s Cesarean Awareness Month! Let’s direct our awareness to postpartum care after the operation. Although C-sections are common in the U.S., we are still talking about MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY. Please remember this as you recover. Take care, Mamas…and take these doula-tested pieces of advice toward a comfortable and efficient healing process:
- REST AND STROLL: You need rest, rest, rest to recovery…and you also need frequent movement to avoid post-op clotting. Achieve this by resting continuously, with the exception a gentle 10-minute stroll around your home every 1 – 2 hours.
- AVOID CONSTIPATION: The hospital nurse will give you stool softeners. Take them. Also drink lots of water and eat your greens. That kind of strain is very painful at the incision area.
- PRACTICE POSITIONING: Spend as much time as possible with the Lactation Consultant while in the hospital. She can help you master the football hold as well as the side-lying breastfeeding position. Both of these limit pressure to your wound while still encouraging skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
- PRACTICE PATIENCE: Often, milk comes in a little bit later after a Cesarean. Not abnormally late, just on the late side of the normal spectrum (2 – 6 days). Be patient, bring Baby to breast often, avoid supplementation via bottle or pacifier until milk supply is well established.
- ACCEPT HELP: While this piece of advice holds true for all postpartum families, it is especially important for the Cesarean recovery. You can’t drive for a couple of weeks, you can’t bend deep, you can’t lift. Let anyone and everyone give you a hand!
- SET UP: If you can, invest in a C-section specific breastfeeding pillow and the Co-sleeper side-crib bassinet (higher surface from which to lift Baby with less of a dip). Set yourself up for pain-free, struggle-free success.
- PROCESS: Sometimes–especially if the operation was an emergency–women have misgivings about a Cesarean birth. They might, in hindsight, wonder if it was the right choice. They might wonder if the procedure was medically necessary. These feelings are natural and need to be dealt with. Talk with a friend, a therapist, or your doula. Also talk to your doc! Have he or she talk through your birth with you, explaining each decision. You deserve answers to any questions you may have.