Cesarean birth, surgical birth, belly birth and c-section are all ways to describe childbirth via surgery.
After I went through my cesarean birth experience, I realized how little to no information is given to new mothers about healing from birth surgery. I remember being told-“keep moving and walking to prevent blood clots” and “do not lift anything heavier than your baby” (mine was 10.9 lbs-did that rule apply to me?).
Overwhelmed is an understatement, you are not only healing from surgery you also have a new baby/babies to take home, get to know, take care of and breastfeed/feed.
Whether you are planning a cesarean or you are recovering from an emergency cesarean, we all have our own unique experiences and expectations with birth so always choose the best option that works for you and your family.
Here are five things that will help you heal from your cesarean birth:
1. Eat Good Food. Proper nutrition during your initial healing stage is essential for helping your body heal, recover and restore. My rule is that any visitor who wants to see you and baby must bring a meal. As a convenience, you can set up a food delivery service to make sure you eat (you do forget when taking care of babies),. Or before the surgery, you can cook and freeze a bunch of meals that you can use once you get home to recover.
2. Don’t try to do it all. Becoming a new parent comes with a lot of judgement, pressure and expectations. Babies do not come with an instruction manual and a lot of parenting is trial and error. Have a relative or friend stay with you the first two weeks to lend a hand or another option is to hire a postpartum doula to help you take care of the baby and take the stress of off you and your partner/spouse.
3. Rest is the best medicine. Sleep is hard to come by when you are feeding around the clock with a newborn, but you can still rest. If you are tired of being in your bed, set up a comfortable, quiet area in your home to rest. The most important rooms for you are the kitchen and bathroom-so stay close to those.
4. Do one thing a day for yourself. Taking a shower or stepping outside to get some fresh air are some easy-to-do options.
5. Healing your body physically. I recommend that you use three different textures to massage above and below your scar within the first 8 weeks postpartum. You can use a dry brush, terrycloth, and a sponge. This will help the nerve regrowth and decrease that numbness that is common in the lower abdomen after a cesarean. Also, please book in to see a pelvic physiotherapist and get your pelvic floor checked out. Massage Therapy can start as soon as you are able to get up and move around, although the focus of treatment wouldn’t be on the scar release therapy until at least 12 weeks postpartum.
6 Your birth story matters. Healing from a cesarean takes time, so be patient and remember that birth can be hard mentally and emotionally. Some will experience trauma while some others will feel at ease having a surgical birth. Your birth is unique to you. It is important to check in with yourself or a professional to clear your mind and feel at ease about your experience. Trauma is very real and can happen at any moment during the birthing/pregnancy process, there is no shame in finding a local perinatal social worker or psychotherapists to talk to about how you are feeling.