C-Section Recovery – The First Six Weeks Postpartum

ArynFamily, Health and Fitness7 Comments

I offer you a glimpse of my C-Section Recovery. Giving birth to a tiny human, made in God’s Image! Such a privilege, whichever way it happens! Mine were both c-sections. The first six weeks postpartum (or as my mom says, “Post Part’em!) are beautiful but far from easy!
You are completely exhausted. And you hurt. And everyone wants to hear how well you are doing, and how excited you are about your new bundle of joy. Which you are. Absolutely. No question. But, could I have a nap? Please?
And by day 3, it gets better. Week 4, week 7, the exhaustion and fears are more under control.  You don’t fear the pain of laughing or sneezing anymore. Brain fog fades. Energy returns, a little. It’s awesome!
And that little person? You start to see personality, and communication beyond just “feed me” “change me” “help me with this gas bubble!” It’s fun. It’s still exhausting, but now, it’s different. There’s a relationship being built.
I have had two c-sections. The first was unplanned, probably an hour shy of being a full-blown EMERGENCY. The second was carefully planned and researched.
Neither one was quite what I expected. And my journey through c-section recovery was complicated in different ways each time.
 Both were unforgettable blessings, and God has given us 2 healthy boys.
The first six weeks after each birth had many similarities and some distinct differences, and if sharing my story helps someone in their journey, then in the lyrics of one of my favorite songs: to God Be the Glory, for Great Things He Has Done!
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Mother and baby, the first six weeks

Preparing for Two C-Sections

With our first, I had high hopes of a “natural birth” with the same midwife who delivered both my younger brother and my niece. A fantastic setup, with great care and birthing classes. I even discovered that cloth diapers were an option since they are without pins now!!! (Still using and loving them 5 years later)
God had other plans, though. After 25 days of prodromal labor [basically no driving, plenty of genuine contractions that went nowhere], and another day with my water broken, I never dilated. C section time! No research, no real  familiarity with the procedure or recovery, a Dr and facility I’d never met,   …all I could think was “will it make the contractions stop??!”
The second time, we decided that c-sections are more predictable, and had been assured that c-section recovery the second time should be easier. This meant finding a traditional doctor and doing research on what’s normal, possible, and best.
Also working with my healthcare sharing ministry on details for reimbursement (This part was awesome! I was using traditional insurance last time, what a Difference!). The second C-section was better, though you can bet I was singing some of these songs very softly on the operating table, pretty sure no one could hear me.

Three Days in the Hospital

Those first 3 days of c-section recovery are intense!

C-Section Recovery, Round 1:

Remember those 24 days of contractions I mentioned? When you have major surgery on muscles that have been through that much exercise? The nurses had to “bully” me into taking a couple of walks around the maternity floor, by saying it was required for going home. Movement and recovery were slow, I still winced at every sneeze 2 Years after!  I had to have help getting in and out of bed for days.
Aside from “second-night syndrome” which I had never heard of (and apparently neither had my nurse that night), nursing was easy with my first. Weaning was tricky, but once I had a list of foods he could actually eat, we made it a game and weaned in days.

C-Section, Round 2:

Once I was free to get up, I moved very slowly, but by the 2nd time, I could do it myself! (I was so proud!) It’s amazing how much better rested muscles handle trauma! 8 hours later, I voluntarily took a walk with an awesome friend who came to help for a bit, while my husband stayed in the room with our newborn. The nurses and midwife who was in the hall were surprised. It was a different hospital, so maybe there are different rules and expectations? I’m not sure, but from the start, my second C-section recovery was off to a much better start than the first!
Nursing was almost impossible with the second. The nurses had to literally force a latch every time. I couldn’t do it. We didn’t make it 24 hours at home before I started exclusively pumping. He would not latch voluntarily, and I was in A Lot of pain.
Guess what: both boys were tongue tied!!  Apparently, there are 2 types, one that affects eating/nursing, and one that affects speech. I had one of each!
This is not something that every pediatrician can identify. Which is why my first was 2 years old before his was diagnosed- Soooo Frustrating. I was specifically asking the second time and was told no several times. By different Doctors.
Finally, we took him to a pediatric dentist who did the evaluation for free, in a no-pressure way, and has a reputation for not doing unnecessary procedures. Corrected it on the spot, too!

The First Six Weeks at Home

Now I realize not everyone has this privilege, and some wouldn’t consider it a privilege (which is very sad!), but I was so blessed in my C-section recovery! My mom came to stay with us for a few weeks before each baby arrived, and several weeks after as well.
Among many other things, like cooking, driving, burping the baby…she functioned as my other brain. Would give me prompts “maybe you should _ while the baby is happy” oh yes, I should! That,s a Great Idea! Or ask questions of the doctors (and remember the answers!).
Even with her help, in those first three weeks, we were proud of ourselves if we managed to get everyone fed and dressed [and bonus points for showers] by 10 AM!!
I felt so accomplished the first time I completed each task solo, whether it was cooking dinner, a load of laundry, a trip to town… A midnight feeding that mom was able to sleep through was a HUGE success!
Between the extra time and energy of pumping and the trip to the children’s hospital emergency room on day 11, there were days during those first few weeks I felt like I would never manage to do what was necessary, much less anything extra!
I am fortunate enough that I have awesome friends and family who helped out with meals and giving the big brother attention and activity. [This one even makes really cool signs!]
All of this made a big difference. C-section Recovery and recovery after any type of birth experience is HARD!
If you need help, ASK! Be specific. They want to help, but either they don’t know what you need or don’t want to interrupt, figuring you will ask if you want to!

My Favorite Resources for C-Section Recovery

Books:

The First Six Weeks: Thriving Naturally on Your Postpartum Journey: I wish I had this the first time around! Rebekah does an excellent job of explaining what to expect from delivery through your first 6 weeks. She has lots of tips and suggestions, and is good at saying “try this, Unless___” which is so helpful!! There are food recommendations, remedies for common issues, and encouragement to give yourself grace!! She talks you through baby’s meal choices as well without trying to way you in one direction or the other, though she does say breastfeeding is free, which isn’t exactly true. [I received an advance copy to read, and was not required to give a positive review, all thoughts are my own]

Bouncing Back from Pregnancy (Body By God)I found this book shortly after having my firstborn. It is so cool! it covers the modern scientific understanding of WHY God made all of those dietary laws for the Israelites. This book covers everything from food tips to safe exercises to self-care, from the beginning of your pregnancy all the way through your postpartum recovery.
Pediatric Dentists: if you are concerned about a tongue tie, instead of an ENT specialist, consider a Pediatric Dentist. Call a couple of each in your area, ask about their experience with the procedure, with a child the age yours is. Do they use a laser? THEN compare prices and insurance, etc.
Placenta Encapsulation: This is an amazing procedure! If you haven’t heard of or done any research on this, please do! The First Six Weeks has a good description or do a quick online search. Fruit of Your Womb has a lot of info on their site, and actually are set up for encapsulation by mail, if you need them! For me, they returned the capsules within about 30 hours, and it sure helped!

Nursing: if you are having difficulties nursing, and don’t have easy access to a lactation specialist (awesome and available I’m most hospitals, I believe) , try Kellymom. Just google a few keywords describing what is going on, and include the word “kellymom” and you will find a ton of information. I also got a lot of encouragement from this post right here!!

Top Tips:

-Use a Medicine Ball in the months leading up to the birth. Strengthening the arms for all of the extended arm bouncing that keeps most newborns happy!
-Stock the freezer! Make lots of french toast and muffins and quinoa bites, and cooked meats (or at least marinated), crock pot meals and casseroles!
Grippy Socks and flannels /sweats: you just lost 10-20 pounds, approximately, and a large percentage of that was an independent heat source! Your body will need a little time to adjust and regulate properly!
-Long sleeves with no zipper: something to keep your arms warm in the ice cold hospital, but without a zipper that could scratch the baby.
-Expect Fire: as you begin moving around after a C-section, your nerve endings begin waking up. It feels kind of like they are on fire. This is normal! It doesn’t last more than a day or two, generally!
-Join a local [or not] facebook group with women going along the same journey. A breastfeeding group, or a new mothers group. Ask questions. These ladies are awesome and so helpful!!
-If you have to have a CT scan for some reason, and the tech tells you that you will need to pump and dump for 24 hours or something, AS they are injecting you with contrast, DON’T PANIC.!! Ask them to write down the exact name of what they used, and do your own research. A majority of the time, pumping and dumping is not necessary. {ask me how I know!}
What are your favorite tips and resources for the first 6 weeks of C-Section Recovery?

7 Comments on “C-Section Recovery – The First Six Weeks Postpartum”

  1. I’m so glad you found some encouragement from my nursing experience! breastfeeding and recovering from a c-section is hard work, thanks for the info and for helping others out!

    1. Thank you Kelly! Your encouragement was much needed, up to and including the permission to not nurse if that was the best thing, made it less stressful, which is half the reason why I was able to continue!

  2. Loved all the great information you shared here, Aryn! I’ve not had a C-section, and there is a lot of stuff here I never would have thought about. Thank you for sharing your experiences and what worked/didn’t work for you!

  3. Great tips!! When I had my c-section I had someone pour the milk into smaller containers so I could grab my coffee by myself. ? Oh and when I bought my wrap I made sure it would work with a c-section.

  4. Pingback: The Best 52 Week Challenge: Join The Vintage Wren • Aryn the Libraryan

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