Just like life, giving birth can be quite unpredictable. All your best laid plans for your preferred way of birthing can be thrown out the window in the name of the health and safety of your baby and you. Whether you have planned to birth via Caesarean section or it happened without much notice at all, there are some really important guidlelines to follow post birth.
What is a Caesarean Section?
A Caesarean section or C-Section is when an incision is made in the mum’s abdominal wall and uterus and the baby and placenta is pulled out through this opening. A total of 6 layers of tissue are made to get to baby so it is major abdominal surgery. As with any major surgery there is post op care that must be undertaken to ensure an optimal healing process.
After giving birth via a C-section it is expected that you will experience experience pain, soreness, and even bleeding. This means you will need time and care to recover and heal. There will be things you can and can’t do so here are some tips on how to care for your C-section incision and what activities will encourage healing.
Physical Activity After a C-Section
The biggest change (other than having a new baby to care for) is your type and level of physical activity until you’ve properly healed. These guidelines for what to expect afterward will help your body heal as quickly as possible.
• Take time to sit and rest – this is the perfect opportunity to bond with your baby while your body heals
• Rest when you’re tired – the combination of having a new baby and majors surgery means you will be extra tired so get your village together so you can rest rest rest
• Walk every day. Walking helps prevent blood clots and constipation.
• Shower as you would normally.
• Hold your your incision when you need to cough or laugh. Either with your hand or a firm pillow
• Lift anything heavier than your baby.
• Participate in strenuous activity or do core muscle exercises until your GP clears you.
• Take baths until your incision is healed
• Have sex until your GP clears you.
• Soak in public pools or hot tubs.
Your Diet After a C-Section
Taking care of your body after surgery means ensuring you have the right nutrition to heal as best you can
• Drink enough water and other fluids – it is recommended that you drink 30mls for every kilo of body weight
• Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet full of whole foods, fruits, veggies, protein and fibre
• Crash diet. This is the not the time to ‘bounce back’. Be kind to your body as it has been through something similar to running a marathon. Or two.
After delivering your baby by C-section, your Obstetrician will give you a run down on how to care for your incision. This should include:
• Keeping the area dry and clean as much as humanly possible.
• Use warm, soapy water to wash your incision daily (usually when you shower). Pat the area dry after cleaning.
• If your Obstetrician used tape strips on your incision, let them fall off on their own – this usually takes around 7 days.
• Use cleansing products that can slow down the healing process.
When to Call your Doctor
How do you know if your symptoms after a C-section are normal? Call your Obstetrician or GP if you experience:
• Depression, sadness, hopelessness, or you are having troubling thoughts.
• Signs of an infection including pain, pus, swelling, redness, swollen lymph nodes, or a fever.
• A fever of more than 38 degrees Celcius.
• Difficulty breathing.
• Smelly discharge from the vagina.
• Severe pain in your belly.
• Bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks through more than one pad every 2 hours (or less).
• Vaginal bleeding that gets worse or is still bright red more than 4 days after you’ve had your baby.
• Signs of a blood clot, including pain in your thigh, groin, back of knee, or calf.
• Your incision comes open.
• Nausea or vomiting.
• Vaginal clotting larger than a golf ball.
• Trouble passing urine or stool.
Taking care of yourself after having a C-section is just as important as taking care of your newborn. Allow yourself to take it easy. Rest whenever possible, and call your doctor if you have concerns about your health.