DISCLAIMER: The following post outlines the writer’s personal experience with c-section recovery. It is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about your c-section recovery.
The recovery period (a.k.a. the fourth trimester) after a c-section is luckily a short season in your life. However, you’re going to feel wrecked and not like yourself, which doesn’t pair well with the raging hormones and being thrown into motherhood. I wish someone would have advised me to take advantage of this period in time–ask for help, take the help, take people up on their offers for meals or Target runs. I would have mentally coped better with the brand new change in my life and the beautiful, physical trauma my body just endured.
April is C-Section Awareness Month. In honor of that, here are five truths nobody told me about c-section recovery and that postpartum period.
1. Walking helps.
As soon as you’re physically able to after your c-section, get up and walk around. Slowly, of course. You will feel so much better after being bedridden for over 12 hours or more. You will start to gain your strength back, too. The more you gently walk around, the quicker your body can heal.
Not to mention, that hospital bed starts to actually hurt your body. By the last day in the hospital, I was opting for the bench my husband was sleeping on. The more you get yourself out of that hospital gurney, the better you will start to feel and recover.
2. If you’re type A, you’re going to want to get up and do things.
The number one rule that doctors will tell you that is vital to your recovery is this: do not overexert yourself! Take it easy! “Don’t even make a pot of coffee,” my doctor told me as I was being discharged. Yeah, right. Twenty-four hours after being home, I felt the urge to unload the dishwasher. And I did. I was told to sit around, relax. Nobody told me it would be hard to take it easy.
But your hormones are going crazy. You’re going to want to feel normal once you get home from the hospital. What can you do to satisfy this potential urge? Do productive, easy things, such as filling out your baby’s book. Do your make-up. Plan an impromptu movie night with your partner. If you have smaller children who will need help at a moment’s notice, take your time and be gentle on your body.
3. Your body will hurt.
The truth is, your incision is going to hurt. We don’t realize how much we use our abdomen for almost everything. The first 48-72 hours, your body will be sensitive to even a bump on the car ride home. Getting into the car itself will be challenging without pulling on your incision, too. On top of all of that, I personally experienced a painful spinal headache 48 hours after my daughter was born. It didn’t get that serious where I had to go back to the hospital, but it took me out for a few hours.
If you decide to nurse your baby, you will also be experiencing the pain that comes along with your supply coming in. Pro tip: if you have a boppy, use that to sit on the couch. It helps with the pain and for when you need to get up from the couch.
4. Bowel movements will hurt, too.
For all three of my c-sections, this part of recovery was a struggle for the first week. Constipation followed by the pain of your incision to have a bowel movement is awful. Stool softeners don’t always work, either. My advice: get a squatty potty (or something similar to it), a plunger, and take lots of deep yoga breaths. And don’t forget a good book or your phone, because you will be in the bathroom for a while. That’s all I’m going to say.
5. Your incision might still hurt three to four weeks later.
Nobody (not even medical professionals or bloggers) ever forewarned me that my incision would still hurt three to four weeks postpartum. Everyone assumes two weeks is the magic number, and after that, you can get back to driving a car and lifting the baby carrier. You will start to feel great by this point, until you lift something sort of heavy and it feels as if your incision is starting to rip.
I attempted to pick up my 18-month-old nephew, and I thought I had ripped open my incision. Luckily I didn’t, but it didn’t look good and it hurt for a few days. What I learned is that you need to physically still be careful for more than the two weeks, even though you will feel good again.
Remember, this short season doesn’t last long and you probably won’t remember it. Be kind to yourself and enjoy your new baby. It’s easier said than done at the moment, but a nurse told me seven years ago when I had my first c-section that my recovery will be what I make of it. And she was right. Stay positive and determined to heal, and you will feel much better.