Let me preface by saying that every person/their body reacts differently. What I feel or felt might not reflect your experience.
Leading up to my cesarean I think it’s important to note that I did the following to help my body prepare for surgery as well as speed up recover.
Kept hydrated. I drank a lot of water prior to surgery (at least 3 days prior)
I was taking a good quality probiotic all throughout my pregnancy.
I took a vegan iron source throughout my pregnancy.
I stopped taking my DHA 7 days prior, (in case I had complications with hemorrhaging).
I ate adequate protein and minimal sugar to help with healing and ward off infection.
I TRIED to rest as much as possible, (TRIED is the key word..stress kept sleep from happening).
The surgery itself was not nearly as bad as I played out in my mind. Prior to my cesarean I was worried for multiple reasons. However, the biggest concern had to do with having placenta previa and a cesarean that could be tricky because of my condition. I was told, for informative reasons, that I could hemorrhage even with surgery (they had blood on hand in case of a transfusion) and if I did hemorrhage I would most likely have an emergency hysterectomy. Surgery is scary enough, but when I knew that bleeding was more likely as well as possible hysterectomy; I was having a hard time keeping my cool.
Again, surgery…for all intensive purposes simple, (of course not simple, but not the hardest part).
So what was life like post-cesarean?
I guess air can get trapped in your abdomen after cesarean. It made sense once I was told that, but wow! I had no idea how much pain there would be after my spinal pain medication wore off. I think I looked more forward to the medication that took the gas away then my pain meds.
Unfortunately, the gas felt after cesarean isn’t remedied by “passing it” the way we normally do (farting, tooting..whatever you might call it). Eventually, you do pass it out the end that feels most natural. However, it takes several days and while you are filled with mind-numbing gas pains…you are backed up in the bowel department too only adding to the gas.
Pooping becomes the scariest concept
However, I can ease some of your worry by letting you know what I did to eventually make things happen.
I drank a TON of water!
I took a stool softener per doctors request, (please don’t be a hero and try to go drug-free…not the time to stick to your granola roots)
I ate at least 2 kiwi a day, (my mom in law read it in consumer reports and it seemed to work)
I drank warm bone-broth every morning
I ate coconut milk yogurt and drank fermented drinks
I waited patiently, this is key! I knew eventually I would go, but I tried not to stress as stress tends to back me up more.
Post-partum depression is real
I didn’t ever experience sadness with my first two boys. However, after Finn’s birth I have been blue. Granted I have recently lost my dad, had my baby early, had complications that were not anticipated post delivery, and have had to try to jump back into life with two already very active boys and now a new little one that also requires a TON of attention.
I have been very up-front with Ryan about how I have been feeling. I am not trying to push my feelings aside or put myself down for feeling sadder than I typically do. It has been tough to be on the verge of tears on a regular basis.
I am hoping that with time, it will improve. However, I am very aware of how I am feeling and am making sure that Ryan is in the know as well as trying to get outside whenever I can; the sun seems to really help! I also rest when I need to and realize that I am not at all super human…I ask for a lot more help these days.
I am finally not sweating through my sheets. The first week or two I was waking up with soaked sheets. I don’t know if it is related to change in hormones or medications (percocet leaving my system). I don’t envy women going through menopause if hot flashes are anything like what I have had.
Recovery takes time and A LOT of patience
Healing happens from the inside out. Even if you feel like you look well…the inside is still working hard to catch up with the rest of you.
I had a really tough time watching the Boston marathon this year. I knew my body was no where near marathon running shape and at this point in time, I can’t ever imagine it being in that kind of shape.
Recovering from surgery is no laughing matter. It requires the mind to be as still as the body. In the past when my mind was in a bad place I used physical activity to help pull myself out of the rut. But, with recovery this go around I am not able to run, barely walk, and have had to find peace without movement…it has been tough!
Obviously there are some other things post-cesarean I have felt that I think are more universal like:
- incision pain
- zings in my incision and lower abdomen where nerves are starting to rebuild themselves
- extreme hunger from breastfeeding
- momma pooch that obviously can’t and won’t go away while I am unable to work on my core strength
- atrophy in muscles; no/low activity equals muscle loss
- postpartum bleeding. However, I think this is slightly more unfair to cesarean moms. We didn’t get to birth vaginally…why should we still have to bleed?!
I hope this helps you along your post-cesarean journey.
Hang in there! this too shall pass and before you know it your little babe will be running around with your older children and you’ll be wishing for the days when you were napping all day in bed with a newborn trying to recover from surgery.