A mother needs to rest her body as much as possible after any delivery, but recovery from a C-section can take longer. Don’t worry: Your body will heal, but you must remember that C-sections are a major surgery. Connie Simpson, author of THE NANNY CONNIE WAY, shares the rules for care.
How You’ll Feel After a C-Section
C-sections used to be the last, emergency-only resort for childbirth, but that has shifted in the last twenty years. For some women, especially those who are having multiples or are older, a C-section might be recommended to make the birth shorter and safer. For other moms, it’s a deliberate choice. It can be scheduled on a day convenient for them and their surgeons, and babies plucked out via C-section certainly have less birth trauma than those born the old-fashioned way.
A C-section is major surgery. It is not a complicated surgery, but it is not a simple procedure either. Basically, all of your innards are pushed out of the way and piled up so the baby can be pulled out. I’ve heard many moms sitting around and talking about their birthing plans with their friends, discussing their upcoming C- sections—sometimes because they don’t want to go through the pain of a vaginal birth—as if they were no more of a bother than getting a bikini wax. They’re sure they’re going to heal up really quickly. All I can say is: “Bless your heart!”
I’ve also seen many moms have unexpected C-sections, and they are unaware that this is major surgery. They are not clear on the recovery, the care, the scar that will never go away, or the immediate pain.
Rules for Recovery
While C-sections are nothing to be afraid of, you are going to be in a lot of pain afterward. Your muscles will have been cut. You’ll need to stay in the hospital for several days, sometimes longer if you had a difficult C-section or any complications. Expect your healing time to be about two weeks and pay very close attention to the instructions given to you and your partner when you leave the hospital. You already read me say “a hard head makes a soft ass”—let me tell you here and now, I have many past C-section mamas who have baby-soft asses because they didn’t listen. They thought these rules didn’t apply to them:
- Don’t lift anything weighing more than five pounds for the first two weeks. If your baby weighs more than that, you have to be very cautious if you do not have assistance. Don’t try to finish the laundry or pick up your two-year-old in the saddle position. There is a reason doctors give you a lifting restriction of five pounds. Trust me, it will be hell to pay in the end.
- Don’t consume spicy foods, sparkling water, or fizzy carbonated drinks, which cause gas and can be painful.
- Try to limit intense laughter, which can cause great pain. I remember being with John Krasinski and Emily Blunt right after the birth of their first baby. As a big Bernie Mac fan, John suggested we watch some of his standup. We didn’t make it past the first two jokes because the laughter made Emily’s pain so excruciating.
- Don’t ignore the scar. Keep the area dry. This means no showers or baths until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. If there is any redness, unusual tenderness, swelling, or if you have a fever, call your doctor right away. You might have an infection that should be treated immediately.
- There are many over-the-counter creams to help scars heal, so ask your doctor for advice. Applying vitamin E oil or any neutral oil and massaging the scar will help the healing process once your stitches are out.
- Don’t strain when you have to go to the bathroom. See if a stool softener will help.
- Don’t run up and down the stairs. I can’t begin to tell you the number of mothers who ignored this instruction, came home, ran up and down the stairs, and learned their lesson through the power of Mother Nature!