The Cesarean experience

Most of us women are able to deliver “normally” and enjoy the natural healing and restoration time after baby’s arrival. Some of us need help.

  • Aug. 10, 2018 2:30 a.m.

Most of us women are able to deliver “normally” and enjoy the natural healing and restoration time after baby’s arrival. Some of us need help, for the sake of the baby and/or Mom; a Casearian or C-section delivery becomes part of the birth experience. The doctor delivers baby through a surgical incision in the Mom’s abdomen and uterus. This surgical procedure involves a longer and more complicated recovery for Mom.

Some C-sections are planned due to concerns such as multiple babies (twins, triplets and more), a transverse, breech or large baby, previous uterine surgeries with a risk of rupture, placenta previa, obstructions (like a large fibroid) or an at-risk baby (one with known neural tube defects or other concern). Urgent or emergency C-sections become necessary when the Mom’s cervix stops dilating and contractions can’t be stimulated, the baby is at risk due to a lowered heart rate, umbilical cord prolapse, placental issues or concern about uterine rupture. It’s an amazing experience to bring a baby into the world with kudos to the doctors, midwives, nurses, doulas, and labour coaches who help us. It is also a time of risk for both baby and Mom. C-sections happen and we need to understand the process and recovery so that we can enjoy the best possible outcome for both baby and Mom.

After your C-section, pay special attention if you find:

• Your incision site becomes warm, reddened, swollen, exudes pus or has increased or sudden pain

• A fever higher than 38’C • Foul smelling vaginal discharge or heavy bleeding after the first 4 days

• Frequent urination or sparse voiding (urge to go and not much comes out), burning/painful or dark/bloody urination

• Both legs swell or one leg swells more than the other

• Difficulty breathing, chest or breast pain

Tips and Tricks to recover well from your C-section:

• Get rest. Stay in the hospital to enjoy help learning to breathe well, move well, breastfeeding well and care for the baby with ease

• You may need pain medication, but that depends on the amount/frequency of pain that you’re experiencing and whether you’re breastfeeding baby

• Plan on a 6-week recovery from your surgery

• Keep your bowels moving with good hydration, fibre rich, healthy and colourful foods and peppermint or ginger tea to dampen gas and soothe your digestion

• Breathe fully and deeply into your tummy and lower ribs to provide good oxygenation and lower your stress • Support your tummy when you cough or sneeze, sit to stand or bend forward

• Avoid strenuous exercise; frequent, gentle walks promote healing and prevent blood clots

• Be mindful of how you move, gently activating your pelvic floor and those deep core muscles

Special Notes:

Healing at the surgical site involves busy collagen fibres that create powerful healing bonds. These bonds may lead to adhesions which help, but if over-committed to their job, they can bind onto nearby organs and tissues within the pelvis. You might feel pulling, tension or a squishy/trapped feeling on reaching, stretching, movement and exercise or have issues with pelvic pain, incontinence or constipation. Once the surgical scar is healed, it’s important to massage the superficial tissues, then the deeper fascia and finally the organs (viscera), learning this skill, then adding this to your daily self care. Extra benefits include soothing sensations, encouraged blood flow, improved lymph drainage and speeding healing of the tissues. Many women have expressed their disappointment about having a C-section to me. It is a more complicated and longer recovery to anticipate, but let’s embrace gratitude at the opportunity to deliver babies safely and with good care. Take care of yourself!

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