Caesarean recovery – planning ahead

caesarean postnatal plan

23 Nov, 2021

In pregnancy it is helpful idea to think about the early postnatal days. They can be different depending on the type of birth you have but some ideas below can help you prepare as best you can if you have a caesarean.

Rest is vital

  • Plan to rest as much as possible. Perhaps a week in bed and a week on the sofa? Dedicate at least 6 weeks to your recovery. If you feel good earlier then that is a happy bonus.
  • Enjoy the cuddles with baby and allow yourself that perfect recovery excuse being trapped under a sleeping baby!
  • Get lots of help around the house and general moral support. Family are always willing to lend a hand. Or you could consider a postnatal doula for judgment free help.

Comfort is key

  • Stock up on lots of maternity pads – different thicknesses (thick ones are great for holding on to the caesarean wound when using the toilet). You will still bleed after birth, something called lochia. This happens whichever way you birth your baby
  • Buy some big knickers or pants that sit high up your stomach. Bikini style briefs will likely sit on your wound so think full briefs for comfort.
  • People sometimes suffer with trapped wind and shoulder pain after a caesarean delivery. This can all be connected to wind and can be very uncomfortable. Peppermint tea and warm compresses can help.
  • In the early days a dressing gown belt (or something similar) to the bed frame to help give support for getting up and down

Take pain seriously – your body is saying slow down!

  • Ensure you have plenty of paracetamol and ibuprofen stocked up at home. Double check with your hospital/midwife whether it would be required in hospital. Any stronger pain relief would be prescribed.
  • It can be so confusing to work out different medication schedules plus keeping a note of feeding frequency and nappy activity. Get someone else to manage medication schedules or set different alarms for different timings. There is no need to be in pain, so keeping up pain relief is important.
  • People sometimes suffer with trapped wind and shoulder pain after a caesarean delivery. This can all be connected to wind and can be very uncomfortable. Peppermint tea and warm compresses can help.

Mobilise – get moving

  • Try and keep moving – small and gentle. Research has shown that the earlier you get out of bed and start walking, eating and drinking after having an operation, the shorter your recovery will be. Try doing ankle rolls and foot flexes as soon as you feel able. Pelvic floor exercises can start you connecting to muscles and engaging everything again.
  • If you have managed to find an antenatal class (like Daisy Birthing or Daisy Parent) that teaches breathing techniques, then these can be handy for breakthrough pain and discomfort. Certain techniques can also help with getting up and starting to move around.
  • Make sure you have everything you need to hand. Having little packs of essentials for you and baby by your bedside and near the sofa can make life much easier.
  • Do nappy changes on a raised surface, or even on the bed/sofa where you are to avoid bending and getting up and down off the floor. Make sure to never leave baby unattended but even better would be get someone else to do nappy changes!
  • In the early days a dressing gown belt (or something similar) to the bed frame to help give support for getting up and down
  • When the outside wound is healed, probably about 6 weeks post birth, then start some scar massage techniques. Getting familiar and touching and stroking around the lower abdominal area even from day 1 can help with sensation. Once everything has healed then a gentle massage routine can help with scarring and getting feeling back.

Dealing with birth disappointment

Even if you are planning a caesarean from the beginning, it can still be disappointing to have a more medicalised birth rather than the births surrounded by fairy lights so often seen in pictures.

When you feel up to it you could consider a birth reclaim ceremony, or activity. It can be a bath or quiet skin to skin time with baby in a warm, cosy environment at home. Dimly lit, perhaps with fairy light and/or candles and relaxing music playing. Taking time to soak in the peaceful moment and enjoying that bonding time with baby. That special time can help reduce any disappointment around the birth. The close contact and calm environment releases lots of oxytocin, which is wonderful for helping with feeding. It will also produce endorphins, which can help with any pain you may experience.

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