Recovery Following A Cesarean Delivery
Birth by cesarean section, also known as a ‘c section’, is relatively common in the UK these days, with up to 30% of babies delivered this way in some parts of the country.
This method of delivery may be recommended by your health care professional at any point during pregnancy or labour; sometimes a cesarean is planned due to medical reasons, whereas in others situations they are carried out at short notice due to an issue arising during labour.
Whilst a cesarean is broadly considered to be a very safe operation for both mother and child, it is nonetheless a major operation and in the majority of cases, the physical recovery takes longer than the recovery following a vaginal birth.
The following tips will give you an idea of what to expect and some tips to help you heal more comfortably following a cesarean birth:
Keeping Yourself Comfortable
You will be given painkillers, which can be taken for as long as necessary when you return home and advised on the care of your wound, in terms of keeping it clean and dry and avoiding infection.
Wearing natural fibres and loosely fitted clothing will help you to feel more comfortable. Some women also find that wearing supportive underwear makes them feel more comfortable and mobile.
Activities To Avoid
- Driving – the majority of women wait until after their postnatal check, six weeks after the birth of their baby before driving, others may feel fit enough to begin driving again before that. It is essential to check your insurance cover carefully to make sure you are clear about any restrictions regarding driving following an operation. The rules vary slightly from one insurance company to the next, but some companies insist on a written certification from your GP declaring that you are fit to drive.
- Strenuous Activity – You should avoid lifting anything that is heavier than your baby in the first few weeks after a cesarean; you will also need to avoid stretching or bending, as you need to avoid straining your stomach to give your body an opportunity to heal.
- Sex – Should be avoided during this period of recovery, until your wound has fully healed.
Get As Much Rest As You Possibly Can
Plenty of rest and sleep will help your body to remain healthy and promotes healing. Concentrate on you and your baby and try to get your head down for a rest whenever your baby is sleeping if possible.
In order to rest properly you will need to access help from your family and friends, especially during the first six weeks at home with your new baby. You will require help with grocery shopping, driving and many of your usual every day household activities. Don’t be shy to accept offers of help and let people know what you need.
If it is not possible to access sufficient support from your loved ones you may want to consider some temporary hired help to provide you with the additional support you need during the first few weeks at least.
Gentle Daily Exercise
In the past, women were advised to remain in bed and keep as still as possible following a caesarean whereas nowadays the advice is to do a little bit of gentle exercise, like a short walk each day to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the legs or the lungs.
Gentle exercise is beneficial for the body and mind, but it essential to take it very slowly and listen to your body. Start by walking on one level, for a few minutes around your home, (avoiding stairs) and gradually build up to a short walk outside once you feel more confident and comfortable.
A Healthy Diet & Plenty Of Water
It is important to avoid constipation, which would cause the need to strain whilst your tummy is still sore and the best way to do this is by eating a healthy diet with plenty of high fibre foods including fresh fruits, vegetables and cereals. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water too!
Drinking water will help you to remain hydrated, which is important for your health and milk production if you are breastfeeding plus drinking the recommended amount of water each day will also help you to avoid constipation.
Protein promotes the healing of damaged body tissue so be sure to include plenty of protein in your diet during the recovery period, this will help to accelerate healing.
Take It At Your Own Pace
Most women find that after six weeks, their bodies are healed and they are well on the road to recovery. It is however important to remember that we are all different; you will know when you feel ready to return to your usual activities.
If you are anxious or unsure about any aspect of your recovery following a cesarean, reach out to your midwife, health visitor or your GP for expert advice and guidance.
Eden Can Help
Here at Eden we find maternity nurses for clients in the UK and further afield and can find just the right nurse for you and your baby to support you through the birth and post birth stages. Have a look at our website to find out more about the range of options available if you’re interested in hiring the services of a maternity nurse.