Many women have questions and concerns about the possibility of delivering via cesarean section (C-section) and the recovery time after the procedure. C-sections are major surgery, so it’s important for women to listen to their bodies as they heal.
Sharon White, director of Perioperative and OB Services at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, offers five tips on how new moms can help their recovery after a C-section.
- Educate yourself.
Whether or not you are having a planned C-section, White says it’s always a good idea to be educated about the different possibilities that may arise before you head to the hospital. Knowing what to expect during and after a C-section provides moms with the opportunity to plan ahead and get answers to any questions they may have.
- Prepare yourself and your partner.
White notes that the more prepared patients are ahead of time, the quicker their recovery tends to be. “Moms who plan ahead and are able to make arrangements for help with everyday tasks such as laundry, cooking and grocery shopping are better able to recover when they get home. They have more time to bond with their baby instead of feeling pressured to do everything, which can often lengthen recovery time,” she says.
It’s also important that you prepare your partner for their role in your recovery. Help with lifting the baby, carrying the car seat and getting you water to keep you hydrated are all ways your partner can help you heal faster.
- Know your pain tolerance.
While you may start to feel better a few days into your recovery, it’s important to remember that you still need to take it slow and listen to your body. Keeping up on your pain medication, following your doctor’s orders and limiting physical activity are key to healing and getting back on your feet.
“You don’t get a medal for ‘toughing it out,’” says White. “Filling prescriptions before you need them and taking the pain medication as prescribed by your doctor is the best way to stay on top of your pain and allow your body the opportunity to heal.”
- Ask for and accept help.
When a new baby is born, friends and family are usually quick to offer help. White suggests you take them up on the offer and ask for anything else you may need.
“As is the case for most new moms, their priority quickly becomes focusing on their new baby’s needs. Caring for a newborn can be all-consuming, but moms recovering from a C-section also need to find ways to practice self-care,” says White.
Letting others bring over a meal, clean your house or even hold your baby while you take a nap or shower will allow you more time to focus on your recovering body.
- Be flexible.
Every patient’s recovery is unique, so it’s important to stay flexible and take the recovery day by day. Be open to bending your normal routine or patterns to accommodate your healing body.
“Some women feel best when they are able to get up and move, while others may find it difficult to navigate their normal environment, such as stairs in their home,” says White. “The key is to remain flexible and only do what feels natural to your body during recovery.”
Learn more about what to expect when recovering from a cesarean section and when to call the doctor.