Most Mums would love a natural birth. But as with many things in life, the choice is often out of our hands and a C Section may be the only way to go. Sometimes, you might be given some warning that a C Section is needed, but for many it happens as an emergency procedure and you're not really sure what to expect let alone plan how your recovery might go.
So worth it in the end
The first thing to remember when you've had a C-section, is that you have just had major abdominal surgery. So on top of all the normal things that happen once you've had a baby, you are also contending with post surgery recovery also. Be prepared to stay in hospital for around 2-4 days, but also be aware that if there are any complications that your stay will be longer.
Immediately following surgery, you'll likely have a team of doctors and nurses monitoring your progress (as well as that of your baby). Your bleeding will be monitored to ensure that your bleeding and discharge amounts are ok, in addition to checking on all of your vital signs. You'll likely feel a little groggy or out of it, due to the pain medication that you have been given. Symptoms vary in each patient, and if you are feeling in pain at all, you should definitely make your nurses and doctors aware of this. It can sometimes be a case of finding the right medication to suit your needs.
Depending upon the time of your surgery, you might be able to get up and about on the same day, and if you are able to, and your doctor has given you the ok, then this will definitely make you feel a bit more human. Being able to have a shower in the afternoon after my C-section definitely made me feel like a new person. You're going to be sore, and you may well feel dizzy so let the nurses or a family member help you as you start to take your first steps. You'll likely also have a catheter in, and you'll need to take care of this as you walk around to shower. I would ask a family member or nurse to stay close by as you can get dizzy from the rush of standing under the water.
Within 12 hours of surgery, and once you've been up and about, your catheter will be removed and then you are free and mobile to walk around and start to recover. For the first few days you'll still need to take it very easy and certainly not do anything too strenous or pick up anything too heavy. Moving around will actually help your recovery, but it really is baby steps at first, and all under doctors orders.
Your scar will feel numb and or sore, and will be covered in either stiches or staples, either of which will be removed around day 4-5 post surgery. Removal of stiches or staples isn't particularly painful but it can pull a little bit.
The level of soreness you feel is a personal one. It can last for a few days or for a few weeks after surgery but your pain medication should keep this manageable. Once home, you will start to feel more like yourself, but likely a slightly more frustrated version of yourself as you find that you are limited in what you able to do. This is absolutely the time to allow your partner, friends and family to pitch in and help out with any household chores, or with looking after older children. It's essential not to overdo it, so you need to find a happy balance of being active in the home, without overexerting yourself.
Exercise is not encouraged within the first 6 weeks, and you are advised not to lift anything heavier than your baby in addition to avoiding driving. I have a number of friends who didn't heed this advice in terms of not exercising and they had to go back into hospital to have their scars repaired. This is definitely the time to take it a little easier than normal.
Things No One Told Me - You're going to be scared to cough, sneeze, laugh, deep breath, and even poo for a good while. You think that whatever you do, you'll somehow pop your scar open. However, in practice, what you should do (and your nurse will show you this), is if you need a big cough, place a cushion or pillow over your scar and this will feel like you are comforting the blow.
-Your poo will be missing in action:
You've had someone playing around in your tummy in addition to copious pain meds, so it's no wonder that the production line goes a little haywire. You might be sent home with a bowel softener, and you can also try some over the counter remedies. Don't worry, it isn't missing forever, and if you have any big concerns, speak to your midwife or health carer.
-You go numb
Does your scar site ever go back to normal? I still don't know. Two years after my first C-section, and my scar was still a touch numb in places. For some the sensations never fully come back.
-You've lost that loving feeling
You'll feel mighty sore after your C-section and sex might not be the first thing on your mind. But it's a no brainer anyway, as doctors advise you to give it a miss for 6 weeks anyhow.
- Breast feeding can be a little tricky
Ok, breast feeding in general is a little tricky, and after your C-section finding the right position that is comfortable for you and your baby can be quite difficult. However, persevere, use plenty of cushions and you'll soon find a position that works. With my first boy, the rugby ball hold was a godsend as I didn't have to hold him on top of the incision.
- Granny knickers will be your best friends
Ok, it's time to say goodbye to dignity and hello to comfort. Pack your waist high granny knickers that won't sit on your scar, and you honestly won't care how you look. Wearing your normal pants that cut into your incision site, is just not a great idea. Give fashion and looking foxy a wide berth for a few weeks, and let comfort be your guide.