Emergency C-Section: 20 Tips for Recovery
On July 13, 2019 I had an emergency c-section (cesarean). After 26 hours, labor was stalling, I had spiked a fever of 102, and there were some signs that Q was starting to be in distress. Although a c-section was not how I planned the birth of my daughter, it was what was best for the both of us.
While I was pregnant, Ryan and I took a Labor and Delivery 101 class from the hospital. During the class, we briefly discussed cesareans and watched a short video. That prompted me to, at the very least, mentally prepare myself for all the potential scenarios of labor and delivery. I communicated my birth plan wishes to my healthcare provider/physician/OB, and a c-section was the last resort. I tried to stay focused on a positive and natural labor and delivery experience. Throughout my labor, they worked very hard to follow my wishes and exhaust all other options first before doing an emergency c-section.
After having a c-section, I spent many hours researching the healing process and the best tips for recovery. I was thankful to have the small amount of knowledge from the L&D class, but there was so much more to know now that I was experiencing it. I also spent time postpartum trying to come to terms with the fact that I had a c-section, and it’s okay to feel like you missed out on the experience you hoped for.
Everyone’s recovery, whether physically, mentally, and emotionally, is different. It was hard for me to not worry about the ‘what ifs’. What if I don’t heal properly? What if I have limitation in the future? What if we want to have other children and I can’t? What if future pregnancies also end in a c-section? At some point I had to reign it in. There are NO guarantees in life. Anytime I felt like I was going down a rabbit hole, I’d acknowledge my feelings, because whether they’re true or not, they’re valid. I tried to focus on why I’m grateful.
I’m grateful to be alive.
I’m thankful my baby is here with me on Earth.
I’m grateful I have the ability to recover.
I say all of this with understanding that postpartum depression and anxiety are very real. There’s no shame in getting the help you need. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety and depression, please reach out to your healthcare provider, and create a plan together that is catered to your well-being.
The first few weeks I focused on what I could do, and I tried to not overdo it. Take the time needed to recover. My doctor gave me some wise advise.
On the surface the body may heal quickly, but our bodies are not truly at 100 percent until we heal internally. In some cases, this could take up to a year after a c-section. Give yourself time and grace in the healing process.
These 20 tips were the most important for my emergency c-section recovery:
- Above all – REST
- Ask for help
- Walk and move your body regularly
- Limit climbing stairs (keep essentials on one level)
- Stay hydrated (this will also help with the elasticity of your skin)
- Sip on red raspberry leaf tea (many herbalists state benefits of decreased bleeding, faster recovery, and strengthening pf the uterus)
- Eat nutrient-dense foods (see post on 10 Healthy & Easy Freezer Meals to Prep Before Baby)
- Stay on top of pain medications
- Continue to take prenatal vitamins
- Wear comfortable clothing (nothing that rubs against your incision)
- Invest in some high waisted underwear
- I lived in these comfortable joggers: Pure Body Modal Joggers and Mid-Rise Breath ON Joggers
- Support your abdomen, especially when coughing, sneezing, and laughing
- Use a belly binder (some hospitals provide them) and supportive leggings (nothing too tight that rubs against your incision)
- Use an elevated bed or pillows to maximize comfort for sleep
- Do not lift more than the weight of your baby
- Do not drive until you are no longer on narcotic pain medication and until you can fully brace/brake quickly
- Set up a bassinet in your room or a bed in the nursery. Having everything in close proximity will allow for more rest and less exertion.
- Use a hair dryer to dry your incision after a shower (keep your incision clean and dry to decrease the risk of infection)
- Take time to process your emotions (you went through major surgery and if it was an emergency c-section this was probably not your planned birth)
- Schedule a postnatal massage
- Consider physical therapy for ways to help strengthen your abdomen and pelvic floor and to help prevent scar tissue
I am not a medical professional. If you have any health concerns, don’t hesitate to call your doctor. Complications may arise after a major surgery, so it is important to communicate with your doctor.
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