Taking Care of Yourself After Cesarean
The postpartum period after you have given birth can be extremely difficult for the mother as well as the rest of the family. It can be even harder when the mother is recovering from a cesarean section. No matter what type of method is used to deliver the baby the mother needs some serious rest. Mortality rates are the highest for mothers just after birth, so it is important that mother takes care of herself.
Single mothers or situations requiring that the father return to work immediately will need special consideration. It is vital that there be a support network set up to help the mother through those first few weeks. Family members, church members and support groups can all pitch in, as well as a post partum doula.
Before deciding what level of support is needed, take a fair amount of time to truly understand the restrictions involved when recovering from a cesarean. As a new mother you will have enough to do just taking care of yourself and your baby, you need to make arrangements to have the rest of the work taken of your shoulders.
Prior to leaving the hospital:
· Within 24 hours of the surgery you will be encouraged to get up, walk around and go to the bathroom. The earlier this is done the faster you will get used to moving around and the healing process can begin.
· After the catheter is removed it can be a bit painful to urinate. The hospital staff may be able to offer suggestions to make it easier.
· If your incision was closed with staples they will likely be taken out before you are discharged.
· Discuss the various methods of pain management after you leave the hospital. Find out the best medication if you are breastfeeding, and the various type of medication available. Make sure you get a prescription if you think you will need it.
· As your uterus shrinks you will have some bright red discharge for about 6 weeks. The flow will be very heavy, so stock up on the extra absorbent pad at the hospital.
· Going for short walks or sitting in a rocking chair can help you recover faster and will help relieve the gas associated with abdominal surgery.
When you go home:
· You need to maintain a low activity level until your health practitioner tells you otherwise. No vacuuming or other household tasks, and no lifting other than your baby.
· The bleeding you experience should taper off slowly and change color from bright red to dark red or pink. If you experience more bright red bleeding after this, it is an indication that you are too active and likely reinjuring yourself.
· Drink lots of water to help stay hydrated, and eat lots of healthy meals to get your energy back.
· Keep diapers, wipes and spare clothes throughout the house so you don’t have to go far to change the baby.
· Fever or pain can mean that there is an infection, so be on alert.
What to avoid:
· No sexual intercourse until you are cleared by your physician
· No tampons or douche
· No baths until your incision has completely healed and you are not bleeding
· No public pools or hot tubs
· No lifting, except your baby
· No excessive stair climbing
· No exercise, other than easy walking until cleared by your physician
Taking Care, Emotionally
Having a cesarean is extremely emotionally draining, so take the time to take care of your emotional needs:
· Spend as much time as you can every day bonding with your baby.
· It can sometimes be difficult to establish breastfeeding so feel free to get the help of a lactation consultant.
· Take the time to deal with the emotions of having had a cesarean, as sometimes the shock of having major surgery is difficult to deal with.
· If needed, talk through your feelings with your support person, or contact a postpartum doula to dispel any negative emotions that you may be associating with the birth.
· Talk to your health care provider about any concerns you may have about your future health as well as future pregnancies.
· Feel free to ask for help. Having a baby by cesarean is no different than having surgery on any other part of your abdomen and you need to take it easy if you want to recover fully as quick as possible.
Call Your Health Care Provider Immediately:
· If you have a fever in excess of 100.4°F.
· Intense headache that begins right after the birth and does not dissipate.
· Tenderness, burning or sudden pain in abdominal area.
· Bad smelling vaginal discharge.
· Sudden pain in incision area, possibly accompanied by pus drainage.
· Redness and swelling along with pain in the leg.
· Burning sensation while urinating or blood in the uring.
· Rash or hives.
· Very heavy bleeding (soaking through a menstrual pad in an hour) or clots.
· Soreness, redness and pain around the breast area, possibly accompanied with fluish symptoms.
· Feelings of anxiousness, panic or depression.
It is perfectly normal to need physical and emotional support through those first few difficult weeks after a baby’s birth, so don’t be afraid to speak out if you need more help. Remember you are not only asking for yourself, but also for the welfare of your new bundle of joy.