A Cesarean Section (C-Section) is a major abdominal surgery. There are 2 incisions - one to your abdomen and one to your uterus. The procedure lasts about an hour, start to finish. Recovery time varies person to person. Below are some tips for a smooth recovery.
Get Up and Move
Begin walking as quick as you're allowed. You'll have a catheter in, and the nurses will likely want you to urinate a certain volume before it is removed. Let your nurse know that as soon as that volume is achieved you'd like to talk a short walk. Any bit of movement helps, even if it's just to a chair next to your bed. It's going to be difficult, but the sooner you get moving, the better your body will handle it.
Take a shower as soon as you feel you're ready. It'll feel so nice on your sore back, and it'll help you get out of the post-surgery funk.
Stay Up on Your Medicine
Whether you're taking a combo of Tylenol and Motrin or something stronger, it is very important for you to take your meds when you're due for them. Don't try to tough it out, you have a ton of inflammation and need the support.
I made this mistake a few times after I had the girls. I was spending so much time in the NICU that I would forget that I was due for my next dose of Tylenol, only to be reminded by the excruciating pain an hour or two later. I would then rush back to my room to call my nurse, who was too busy to attend to me immediately.
Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when it's time for your next dose. You'll have enough on your mind after surgery - whether it be the care times of your babies or trying to remember when you need to pump.
Rest and Elevate Your Legs OFTEN
Double the babies means double the inflammation. You'll likely have a lot of swelling throughout your body, especially in your feet and ankles. Be sure to rest as often as you can.
I know, easier said than done. You want to spend as much time with your sweet babies as you can, which likely requires a walk to the NICU. You're likely feeling guilty about not spending every waking minute there. You're probably also feeling resentful of the other moms in your wing who are "rooming in" with their new bundle of joy, only leaving their bed to use the bathroom or pick up their crying baby.
These feelings are all normal and completely valid. Unfortunately the stress, anxiety, and heartbreak does not end when you deliver your babies safely. The NICU journey is a whole new chapter. The positive, however, is that it's just one step closer to bringing your babies home - which is wonderful! So, accept when you're feeling sad or anxious, or mourning the thought of what a "normal" pregnancy would've been like. Accept these feelings and then let them go. You're a badass momo mama - you'll get through this chapter, just like you did the last!
Rest is crucial for a speedy recovery. Your babies need a healthy mom, so even though it's hard for you to pull yourself away from their isolettes, it's necessary. Your babies also need a ton of rest too, so don't feel guilty for not sitting next to them 24/7. The NICU nurses are amazing and are taking wonderful care of your sweet littles when you're not there.
PSSSSST....... In the blink of an eye your babies will be home and you'll be wishing you could rest more!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
In order to reduce the swelling in your body, drink as much water as you can! If you're pumping, you will need to drink a ton of water anyways. Aim to drink a gallon of water a day. Chug, chug, chug!
Hug a Pillow
Squeeze a pillow to your belly when getting up from a sitting position. This will help keep your abdomen compressed which will help with the pain from transitioning from sitting to standing.
Request a Heating Pad
A heating pad feel sooooo good for your sore back and abdomen. Pair it with the compression socks on your elevated legs and enjoy a nap.
Help Get Things Moving
There is truly nothing more terrifying than the thought of the first poop post C-Section. I promise, it isn't as bad as you imagine it will be. Request stool softeners and laxatives to help get things moving. Keep taking these until you finally have some relief.
Compression is Key
The hospital typically provides a belly binder, but there are a few great compression products that you can purchase that will help keep everything "in place" during the first few weeks of your recovery. My favorite were postpartum compression leggings and the C-Panty
Comfortable Clothing While You Heal
Your incision is going to be very tender and sensitive for at least a few weeks. High waisted panties are so comfortable and help protect your incision from irritation. My favorite were Kindred Bravely's Postpartum & C-Section Recovery Panty. Loose fitting pajama pants that can be worn above your waist are also great for when you're resting. When you're moving around, wear something with compression.
Listen to Your Body
This is hands down, the most important piece of advice I can give you. There are days that you will overdo it, and your body will let you know. The best thing that you can do is honor its request and take it easy for a day or two after. If you continue to overdo it you will likely stall the healing process, extending the amount of time until you feel 100% again.
C-Section recovery is always difficult, but it is especially difficult for momo mamas. We're returning home from a long inpatient stay and wanting to get back into our old routine. We're driving back and forth to visit our babies in the NICU. We're pumping around the clock to provide breastmilk for our babies. Many of us have other children at home, eager to make up for lost time with us.
It's not going to be easy to rest, but it is crucial for a speedy recovery. When you finally get to bring your babies home, you want to be feeling (close to) back to normal. It's going to be wonderful to finally bring them home, but it's going to be challenging and exhausting at times. In the long run, your body will thank you for taking good care of it before you bring your sweet littles home.