At my week 36 check-up, our visit was going as planned. Our little one’s heartbeat was strong, his size was healthy, and we were beaming with joy. We had smiles plastered on our faces knowing everything was going as expected.
That’s when my OB stopped talking and starting looking more closely at something.
She kept doing circles on my belly which for a moment I didn’t understand why until she said: “He’s breech”.
I had never even given any thought about the possibility of our little one being breech. My birth plan was to have a vaginal birth. That’s it. There was no plan B, until now.
I tried everything from bouncing on balls to visiting an acupuncturist – which involved burning some crazy incense next to your toes – to listening to a meditation track called “Turn Baby Turn”. Nothing worked so a c-section was inevitable. I walked into the surgery room armed with just enough knowledge to know that this was going to be a long road to recovery.
Was there more I wish I would have known? HELL YES. So unlike me, I want to help you with a plan. C-sections are hard, don’t make it harder on yourself by not being prepared for what follows.
Below are things that saved my life when recovering from major abdominal surgery while trying to settle into my new role as “mom”.
1. A Baby Pillow
Get ready to be amazed at how many pillows you will have access to in your hospital room. You can stack yourself up to heaven if you wish. While the basic pillows are great, there is one magical pillow to ask for… a small pillow. Though it is only about the size of a toddler pillow, it will become glued to you. You won’t have any core strength for quite some time, so holding a pillow over your surgery area will help ease the pain of the stitches pulling while trying to get up and down. It’s amazing how this simple tool will help you get in and out of bed post surgery.
2. Epidural Headache: Know The Signs
This is the #1 thing I tell all new moms who are going to have a c-section. Why? Because if you know what to look for you will be prepared to get treatment while in the hospital rather than having to go back to the ER (which is what I did, with my newborn baby in tow). An epidural headache occurs when the hole that was created for your spinal block doesn’t close up. The spinal fluid leaks from the membrane around the spinal cord and reduces pressure on the brain resulting in an excruciating headache.
This type of headache typically occurs up to 48 hours post surgery. My symptoms didn’t start until day 2 postpartum and honestly, I thought I just needed a coke or two. However, the only relief I would get was from lying flat on my back, and that only seemed to make the headache go away momentarily. Little did I know that was a sign of an epidural headache. It wasn’t until day 5 postpartum that I couldn’t take it anymore so my OB sent me to the ER for a blood patch to help close the hole. Thankfully after a few days of the blood patch working, my headache finally stopped.
If you had an epidural and are experiencing an out of this world headache that doesn’t get any better after eating, caffeine, or if you only get relief while lying flat, tell your nurse right away. You may have an epidural headache, and your care team should look into it before releasing you.
3. A Corset: Your New Best Friend
There is no feeling quite like the feeling you have post-C-section. Your insides feel like they are hanging down to the floor and you wonder what the hell happened to your stomach muscles. While you did just have major abdominal surgery and should be resting, you won’t be gifted with any downtime now that your little babe is in the world. So while moving in general, is as hard as going to a CrossFit class, you can get a little relief.
One item you should not recover without is a corset. Yes, I know it sounds like something out of the 1800s but this simple garment will change your life. It provides support and compression where you need it the most. My favorite kind was the Bellefit corset which Lauren actually turned me onto. A corset will help increase your mobility, relieve back pain, and pull your insides back up where they belong, it’s a true godsend post-C-Section.
4. Goodbye Victoria Secret
I hate to break it to you, but when you have a C-section your underwear options are going to be a bit different than what they were pre-baby. Why? Because now you have to think about healing, not only for yourself but for your scar. No, it does not mean you can’t have cute and stylish undies. It does mean, you need to think differently about your pretties. You will want underwear that comes above your scar and is likely to be more of a high-waisted cut than your average Victoria Secret cut. This is the time in your life when you have full rights to wear those granny panties as they are the perfect height. If big briefs are not your thing there are stylish options made specifically for c-section recovery by brands like Knitted Bravely.
5. Your Partner
There is no greater strength than knowing when to say you need help. After a C-section, I promise you that there will be times you need help. I thought I could do it all and be a super mom right off the bat. However, learning to be a mom while recovering from my c-section took more out of me than I ever expected. I found out very early on to not be afraid to lean on my husband more than usual, not only to help me but to also help with taking care of our newborn.
You will be a great mom, but you have to remember to give yourself time to heal; it won’t happen overnight and some women will recover faster than others. Letting your spouse lead the baby duties every now and then will help you get back to 100% sooner, which will help you spend more time with baby faster.
Going through a c-section is not easy. Then throw in being a new mom while trying to recover it can seem almost impossible. Give yourself time momma, and remember to take advantage of these tips and tools to help you make a smoother recovery.