When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember being so nervous about going into labor and not making it to the hospital in time. Little did I know that should have been the least of my worries. I never went into labor naturally and ended up having an emergency c-section. Recovering from a c-section was one of the hardest things I ever experienced.
The reason I needed a c-section was because at 40 weeks and 2 days my fluid was low and the baby was big. So I was induced. Instead of waking up in the middle of the night with contractions and having to decide if they were close enough together to go to the hospital, we had to go home, finish packing our last-minute items, and go to the hospital that night. My birth story is nothing like I expected it to be.
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Unfortunately, what the Pitocin did not do, was make my body progress into labor. After 4+ hours of excruciating pain, I still wasn’t dilated more than a few centimeters so I couldn’t have an epidural. Finally, after what felt like an eternity my doctor came in and said I could have it. The next thing I knew there were alarms going off everywhere and the nurses were yelling at me to turn over. I had just had the epidural and I couldn’t feel the bottom half of my body so I couldn’t turn over! The alarms going off were the fetal monitor and the baby’s heart rate was dropping so that’s why they were trying to reposition me.
Luckily the nurses were able to move me, but it didn’t work. The baby’s heart rate was still too low and they started prepping me for a c-section. Ironically right before all of this started my husband had just stepped out to get something to eat. Since nothing had been happening all day, he thought he had plenty of time. When he walked back into the room, the nurses handed him scrubs and said, “Put these on! Now!”
I don’t remember much about what happened next other than being handed my precious baby not long after that. Apparently, the reason his heart rate dropped was because the umbilical cord was wrapped around him in two places. So we were lucky that they decided to do a c-section when they did.
Recovering From My First C-Section
We spent 3 more nights in the hospital while recovering from the c-section. To be honest, we weren’t in any rush to go home, because we were in shock. My husband was not prepared to have to change every diaper for the first 24 hours because I couldn’t get out of bed.
My body wasn’t prepared for the trauma of major surgery. I had the hardest time with breastfeeding and couldn’t find a comfortable position due to the pain around the incision. So we stayed as long as we could to take advantage of help from the nurses.
Eventually, we went home and we adjusted. My son ended up thriving and I recovered from my c-section. We must have forgotten all of these scary details because we decided to have another baby 2 years later.
The 2nd Time Around: Recovering From My Second C-Section
When my second son was born, the story was completely different. It was literally a piece of cake. Since I had such a scary experience with my first, I wasn’t going to argue with the doctor’s recommendation to have a scheduled c-section this time. We didn’t want to take any risks of having another unexpected surgery if things didn’t go well.
This time around things were different though because I knew what to expect. I was prepared for the recovery both mentally and physically. There were still a few hiccups along the way so I’m not going to say it was easy, but my 2nd C-section was much easier than the 1st!
Here are a few things that helped make the process of recovering from a c-section easier the second time around.
5 Tips For A Smooth Recovery From A C-Section
1. Get up and move around.
This is so important! Your body will be so exhausted and it will be hard to get up. This is the best thing you can do for recovering from a c-section though! You’ll get your strength back quicker and will get to go home sooner the more you’re up moving around. I’m not saying that you should overdo it. Definitely listen to your nurses and listen to your body. If you feel too much pain, rest and try again later.
2. Drink lots of fluid.
I had terrible gas pains in my shoulder after my second c-section. My nurses brought me warm prune juice with ginger ale and a warm compress. This helped along with getting up and walking- another reason why moving around is good for your recovery!
3. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family that you can’t take visitors.
This can be challenging because everyone will want to come and see the baby. I’m not saying you have to ban all visitors until your baby is 6 months old. I’m just suggesting that the first few days/weeks may be hard, and you’ll need to rest as much as possible while recovering from a c-section. You’ll also be adjusting to your new bundle of joy and will need to get sleep when you can. So, if needed, limit your visitors to 1 or 2 a week and tell everyone else that you’ll let them know when you’re ready. Good friends or family will understand, especially if they’ve had a c-section before.
4. Take home the mesh underwear from the hospital.
You will need it! As hideous or uncomfortable as they may seem your incision will make it hard to wear underwear for a few days. You also won’t want to ruin any of your nice undies and will likely end up throwing some away.
5. Accept all the help you can get.
If a friend offers to bring you a meal, let them! If your mother-in-law wants to do your laundry, by all means, take her up on the offer! Allow others to help in any way they can. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of taking care of your baby if you have to allow your husband to take the night shift sometimes so that you can sleep. Again you need to rest in order to recover and sometimes that means passing some of the duties to your spouse, other family members, or friends.
While the recovery from a c-section is often a little harder than a vaginal birth, there are still ways to make things easier. I hope these tips help you get back on your feet so you can focus on enjoying your little one!
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Patrice Payment is a former child therapist who blogs at Mom Life With P. Patrice started blogging because she wanted to help other moms see that they aren’t alone in the challenges of motherhood. She is a mom to two boys. In her free time she enjoys being outside, reading, and going to the beach.