Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tips for C-Sections

I'm officially three weeks out of my C section and I'm up and at 'em. There are some things that can definitely help you get back on your feet, and also there are some things that most certainly should be avoided. I'm going to outline them here.

1. Bind your belly. Seriously, this is a must. You don't need a fancy binder, however you will likely need several different levels of binding as you progress. To start, I used a long muslin receiving blanket, folded into a long rectangle. I tied it around my back while in the hospital. Then eventually I could pull the ends around to my front and tied them there. Four or five days post pardum I could fit into my small size Belly Bandit. Now I can wear my Rago girdle.

I still have some small overhang of skin over my incision, but it's significantly less than it was. I hate it, but it's gratifying that it's shrinking. My skin elasticity is really being put to the test now. It looks a little crepe papery and slightly greyish at present too. But I'm back in my pre-pregnancy clothes. So boom.

2. Get help. Oh my God, don't even try to handle this alone. Even your other half will not be enough. Have someone stay with you. For one, you need assistance recovering from surgery. Two, you have a brand new baby who gives zero shits that you're recovering from surgery. You totally need extra hands to make meals, run errands, do dishes, change diapers... etc. You'll need help into the shower, up stairs, out of bed. And if this all is on your partner, well, dude's going to be sleep deprived as well. His health is going to deteriorate in a hurry.

The Dude was operating on about eight hours of sleep the whole first week. Eight hours total. I was almost more worried about him than me. Almost. Get a trusted family member to stay with you. You'll need it. And if you're like me and you need to haul ass back to the hospital, you'll really need the help.

3. Do not recover in the hospital alone. You can. Sure. Technically. There are nurses to assist you. But do you really want to call them every time you need help out of bed? The baby is hungry. You'll need up. You need to pee. You'll need up. Baby needs a change. You'll need up. You'll be up every damn hour, so forget about rest. Or you could have your other half stay with you and bring you the baby to nurse, change the diapers himself, and give you a hand in the bathroom rather than a stranger.

4. Arinca pills. Take 'em. There's Arnica cream, but I'm talking about the tiny little pills that'll help you heal internally. My healing time was actually really good, once I got home from the hospital the second time anyway. I was up the stairs within a week and lifting my baby, and getting out of the house within two weeks no problem, no pain. Additionally, take as few painkillers as you can get away with, and take the weakest ones. I was offered oxycontin and, uh, yeah, no. Them things be addictive.

5. If anyone wants to bring you anything at all, request food. Making meals requires trips to the grocery store, time in the kitchen, and then clean up. Even with someone in the house helping you with the baby, this could be too much in the first weeks. Prepared meals are gold. Best thing ever.

6. Midwifery is amazing. You'll have been transferred to an OB for your surgery, but you'll still be visited in your home afterwards by your midwives. I was also seen in my hospital room in labour & delivery, and also while recovering from my infection. I do have to travel to see the OB who performed my C-section, but that's on Monday, nearly four weeks after it took place. Nothing beats the personal attention you get from midwives. If you have a problem, you can see an OB any time. But starting with a midwife ensures a continuity of care with a personal touch. When you're reeling from a crazy birth, that personal touch means the world.

7. As soon as you can manage it, get a massage. My body ached in ways I can't describe. I got used to feeling like hell when I was pregnant, but after surgery and recovery, you don't realize you can make those pains go away. You're accustomed to it. But lemme tell you, a massage will make you feel more human. Trust your husband with the baby (He'll be fine) and get out into the world and re-introduce your back to feeling normal. I had one a few days ago and sweet Jebus, was it good.

8. Don't sweat it if your milk is delayed. This can happen. Don't freak out. You may need to supplement with formula so you don't starve your baby in the meantime. Jack lost 12% of his birth weight, which considering he was 9 lb 13, was not a huge deal. But kiddo needed some sustenance. I felt crappy about this initially, but really? It was out of my control. Too many things were thrown at me (C-section, infection, large baby, separation) to breastfeed exclusively. He's getting formula fed about 60% of the time because that's all I can manage.

I'm on meds to increase supply, I'm getting as much sleep as I can, I'm pumping and allowing my baby to drain me dry and that's all I can do. I accept this. Also, I enjoy the benefits of my husband taking on the odd feed, and being able to wear non-nursing friendly clothing from time to time. I realized that breastfeeding doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. I can give what I can and feel good about it.

Cesarians can be really upsetting. You can feel like you failed or a little traumatized by the experience. But a little acceptance goes a long way. I found I was able to cope with everything that happened once I embraced the fact you can't count on your plans. I'm no less a mother for birthing surgically, or being unable to breastfeed all the time. Shit happens, and then you move forward. Being a resilient person helps.

As for things that hinder recovery, try to avoid large gatherings in your home. Make sure visits are short and no one expects you to get up or do anything. Don't make phone calls or field phone calls, not till you're ready. Time is best spent sleeping. Let other people answer questions for you. Don't let nursing staff interrupt your sleep too often, before or after your birth. Set boundaries. They'll want to check your vitals all the time, which will wake you up, but you don't have to let them. Sleep, sleep, sleep. have your husband run interference for you. Their policies are all well and good, but you won't recover worth a damn if you're deprived of rest. I should know.


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