Recovering from a C-section is a whole different experience than recovering from a vaginal birth. In the best-case scenario, it can take 4-6 weeks before you start to feel like yourself again. There will be pain, discomfort, and just plain exhaustion. It can be frustrating during this recovery period, because you won’t be able to perform your everyday duties - let alone care for your new baby without help. It’s important, however, that you follow the proper precautions to prevent complications and avoid re-injury.
• Enlist the help of family and friends. If someone offers to make dinner or come over to help with housework, you should accept. Physical therapist Deena Goodman explains that women who have C-sections usually have more postpartum pain in their abdominal muscles. You need to take it easy so you don’t cause any more additional damage and so your body has the chance to heal.
• Eat and drink! You need to stay well hydrated and eat plenty of healthy food to give your body what it needs to recuperate. If you’re breastfeeding, your nutritional needs will be even more intense. Drink lots of water, tea, and other healthy liquids and make sure to eat lots of small, nutritious meals throughout the day. Have someone help you prepare some meals and snacks that you can access easily when nobody else is home.
• Stay ahead of the pain. Pain management is key in recovering from any surgery. You’ll be given some kind of pain relief medications, and it’s okay to take them. Keeping pain at bay will keep your stress levels down and shorten recovery time. They may also help you to relax and rest so you can heal.
• Take care of your incision. The surgical incision from your C-section will probably be very sore during the first few weeks of recovery. It may begin to itch as it heals, and it’s very important you do not irritate your incision by scratching it. Eccessive rubbing caused by rough fabrics or tight-fitting clothes can also hinder the healing process and can even cause your incision to tear.
• Make yourself comfortable. This will be more easily said than done, but it’s important to stay as comfortable as possible. Use pillows, blankets, and whatever else you need to ease pressure and pain so your body has its best chance at healing quickly.
Prepare yourself for recovery by knowing what to expect. Obstetrician Dr. Jay Gordon explains that the hospital process for a C-section is made easier if the woman is properly prepared for what will happen. Always follow your practitioner’s recommendations for your recovery and don’t hesitate to call if you are concerned about any aspect of your recovery or feel like something could be wrong.