Hi friends! We are almost two weeks out from Beckham’s birth! Our families have been awesome over the past two weeks and between Cody, my parents, and in-laws, someone has been with me 24/7 to help lift and chase Bode, help with household chores, and provide moral support as I have been recovering from my c-section. I know my family and friends will still be here to help, but I am on the mend from surgery and it is time for me to really start dipping my toes into the water on my own. Needless to say, this upcoming week should be interesting, challenging, and fun as I begin to figure out how to manage our new family dynamics from day to day. If only I could train Magic (our dog) to do dishes, fold laundry, and pick up toys. 🙂
My c-section recovery has been a bit more intense than I thought it would be. I haven’t had to experience much surgery in my past (knock on wood), so I didn’t know what to expect. I have been keeping notes on a handful of little tips I want to share with you about how to prepare for a c-section, what to expect with a c-section, and tasks you can ask your family and friends to help you with. If you have a sister, daughter, or friend scheduled for a c-section, please pass this blog post along to them!
How to Prepare
1. Remove nail polish. If you do not remove your nail polish on your own at home, you will likely be required to remove the polish off of at least one finger on each hand before your surgery. The reason why is because the appearance of your nail beds can be used to assess the oxygen levels in your body. If you are like me and are faithful to your nail polish or manicure routine, this may bum you out. I generally like a super dark polish on my nails, but a few days before surgery, I opted to get a shellac manicure with a clear polish.
2. Buy granny panties. My c-section scar sits pretty low and is in an area where the top of my normal underwear would generally hit. Underwear that sits higher up will be much more comfortable because it will entirely cover your incision instead of rub on it. Even better, snag some extra pairs of the mesh underwear they give you at the hospital. They are super comfortable and easily washable.
3. Buy pads. Unfortunately, you will still bleed following a c-section. For some reason, I was under the impression that I wouldn’t have the same type of bleeding that I did with my vaginal birth. Luckily, some of my friends had forewarned me about this and I am thankful they did. For me, the first few days were a lot heavier than a regular period, but over the course of a week or two, it evened out to what a normal or light cycle would be like.
4. Have Benadryl, calamine lotion, or a steroid cream on hand if you have sensitive skin. I had a reaction to either the soap they use to prep you for surgery or the adhesive from the surgery drapes. I ignored it for a few days thinking it would go away on its own. It got worse over time and my OB recommended me to use Benadryl, calamine lotion, or a steroid cream to help clear up the rash that developed across my midsection. For me, a combination of Benadryl and calamine lotion worked the best.
5. Stock your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry with easy to cook food. You will likely not feel up to moving around too much when you get home from the hospital. Not only will you want to be snuggling with your new baby, but you will also be physically sore. Easy to cook food will help get you through your first few weeks at home until you are feeling up to venturing out to the grocery store.
What to Expect
1. Vaginal bleeding. See #3 in the first section.
2. Pubic bruising. My husband helped me check my incision five days after my surgery and he noticed a pretty big red and purple area below my scar on my pubic area. We both kind of freaked out because we didn’t know if it was a rash, an infection, or what! I ended up calling the on-call doctor and he said that it is likely a bruise and is completely normal. After a surgery, blood can pool at the bottom of an organ and cause bruising. The bruise resolved itself within a few days.
3. Swelling post-surgery. I was pretty swollen the first few days after surgery. Into the third and fourth day, I mostly noticed the swelling in my lower legs and feet–hellllooo sausage toes! The best remedy for this is to literally get off of your feet. Not only does your body go through quite a bit of trauma when your entire core is cut open, but you are also pumped with a lot of fluids–it takes a week or so for your body to excrete them.
4. You will feel pressure during surgery. I had friends tell me this ahead of time and it was definitely true for me! You will feel pushing, pulling, and pressure, but it isn’t painful, just somewhat uncomfortable. The anesthesiologist will work with you before surgery to make sure you won’t feel any pain from about the nipple area down.
5. Your baby may cough and sneeze frequently due to fluid retention. When you have a vaginal delivery, your baby gets squeezed through the birth canal–this process naturally removes a lot of your baby’s fluid. When you have a c-section, your baby does not get squeezed in the same way, so it is not uncommon for your baby to cough and sneeze frequently. Coughing and sneezing helps them to naturally remove the excess fluid.
6. You are going to be laid up for a few weeks. Again, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect with a c-section, but it has definitely taken some time for my body to heal. Actually, the healing is still in process. You will not be able to lift more than your newborn and a diaper bag the first few weeks following surgery. You will also not able to drive until you can comfortably slam on the breaks without feeling pain in your abdomen. It will be hard to get up and down from a sitting position and climb in and out of bed. It will hurt to cough and laugh. Seriously, it is not cool when you have to tell people not to make you laugh. 🙂 I have to keep reminding myself what exactly happened to my body a few weeks ago and give myself grace when it comes to not feeling like my normal, energetic self.
7. You will momentarily forget the pain when you hold your baby. I know, so cliché but so true! When it comes to snuggling with Beckham, changing his diaper, feeding him, or whatever the case may be, mommy mode kicks in and I forget about the pain–I am assuming that is true for other mommas out there too. Must be by design–thanks God!
Ask for Help (This is a list of things that you can ask your loved ones to help you with when they ask you how they can help. These are all things family and friends have done for me over the past two weeks and it has made a world of difference in allowing me the chance to rest, recuperate, and recover. It takes a village and I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through the past two weeks without family and friends helping me out.)
1. Bring a meal. Tell your loved ones not to worry about it being fancy or homemade–you will appreciate a meal that is already prepared for you! There isn’t much time in between feeding, diapering, and all of the others things you will be doing as you take care of your newborn and any other children you may have. Beyond dinners, breakfast casseroles, fruit, and lunch meat with fixins’ are great options to request too!
2. Entertain your toddler. Trust me when I say that taking care of a newborn is way easier than taking care of a toddler. Having someone play, interact, and stimulate your toddler gives you a little reprieve so you can focus on the baby, take a hot shower, or drink a bottle of wine–whatever floats your boat.
3. Help with laundry. Laundry can become overwhelming with a newborn. It seems so easy to throw things into the washer or dryer, but when you are running on no sleep and working to integrate a new person into your family, doing a load of laundry can feel exhausting. This is something your loved ones can easily help you with.
4. Clean up toddler toys. This is another easy task that can feel overwhelming when you are running on no sleep. It is usually a quick 5-minute job and family members and friends can easily help you with this.
5. Pick up groceries. Going to the grocery store with a newborn or kids in tow may feel like too much for you the first few weeks after surgery. There are a lot of grocery stores that allow you to order your groceries online and pick them up at a set time. Try out one of these services at your favorite grocery store and ask your loved ones to pick them up for you on their way over. Generally, payment is taken care of online so there is no need to worry about getting money to whomever is picking them up for you. Be sure to add bulky items to your list like cases of water, toilet paper, and paper towel–these types of things are a pain in the ass to get into your cart down the road when you venture out to the store with your newborn.
6. Help with heavy lifting. Since you will not be able to lift much weight following your surgery, ask people to help you take out the trash, transfer laundry baskets from bedrooms to your laundry room, and move any boxes that have been delivered. Don’t be shy to ask–your loved ones want to help!
So, there you have it–my c-section notes that I would share with a friend over a cup of coffee! I would love to hear anything you have to add to these lists. If something pops into your mind, leave a comment below!