Whoever coined the phrase ‘too posh to push’ needs to be shot (not literally may I add, just figuritively). Because having a caesarean is no easy feat. Whilst you may be numb during the actual procedure it’s a god damn struggle afterwards.
After my second caesarean, it took me perhaps 5 weeks to feel relatively normal again. But the real healing can often take months. At 8 weeks post partum, I’m able to get around and do everything I could before more or less (I’m not going to start carrying my pre schooler for lengthy periods any time soon), but if anyone pokes or prods the area around my scar I’m likely to bite.
However I’ve learnt a few tricks this time around that I wish I’d known first time around.
Don’t waste your money buying knickers that’ll last you a few weeks at best. Yes you need something larger then you would normally wear because the band has to go above your section scar, but just steal boxers off your partner. They work just as well. They don’t cost anything. And it’s nice to see your other half squirm as you pull out huge maternity pads to slip inside… you had a baby wrenched from your gut. It’s pay back time 😉
2. Use a hairdryer on the cold setting
Some mums come away from a c section with no overhang. I’m not one of those mums. A section scar needs to be able to ‘breathe’ to heal, and being stuck under a sweaty gut doesn’t help. So every evening (and morning if needs be) make sure you dry your section scar by gently lifting up your tummy and blasting the air from the cold setting on a hair dryer around the area.
Once you stop post partum bleeding, it’s a good idea to sleep without any underwear on to further help the air get to the area because the tummy naturally lifts as you lie down. The quicker your scar scabs over and heals the more comfortable it becomes.
If it takes a long time to heal (at 6 weeks I still had quite an open cut around the edges of the scar) your doctor may prescribe some iodine spray to help dry out the area and use steri strips to hold the edges of the cut together.
3. Inject your tummy
As if having a caesarean isn’t painful enough, you’ll also have to self inject.
To prevent blood clots you’ll be given Clexane injections to do daily for however long the hospital think you’ll need it for post surgery. And I won’t lie they sting like crazy.
I remember them post Little London’s caesarean and I would cry for about an hour before I’d let Mr London Mum near me with them. The idea of doing it myself was just not something I could do.
You have options on where you can inject, your thighs or your stomach. First time around I went for my thighs thinking my stomach had been through enough trauma.
This time around I followed the secret advice from my nurse on the post natal ward who could see the idea of subjecting myself to these injections yet again was freaking me out.
She told me she’d show me a trick to get through it as long as I trusted her.
I had nothing to lose so let her have free reign.
She injected my stomach. But she did it as close to the caesarean scar as she could. The whole area surrounding your scar post surgery is totally numb so actually injecting here means you can’t feel anything.
When I got home, I’d use a mirror and inject myself. I’d use the tip of the needle to make sure the area was numb and if it was I was confidently able to push the needle all the way in and administer the solution.
Easy (and that’s coming from the most needle phobic person you could meet).
4. Bottle feed at night
Please don’t think I’m pushing formula. But I decided to put this in here because it really has helped me.
So this particular point is of course a personal choice. And of course you can bottle feed with formula or expressed breast milk.
But breastfeeding after a caesarean is hard work because you’re in pain and you have to get yourself up from bed frequently during the night to feed your baby. Trust me getting up from lying down is chronically uncomfortable.
On top of that, once your baby has latched on you may be stuck in that position for a long time because feeding is still being established and trying to get comfortable when you’re limited on mobility is tough.
I couldn’t breastfeed my first born, but I really wanted to give it a try this time around and I knew as soon as she was born that for me to successfully breastfeed I needed to acknowledge where I needed the help.
After surgery I think it’s vital to rest and recover as much as you can. If you do too much your recovery will be slower and more painful. To rest properly I needed good sleep, which meant giving my partner the responsibility of feeding during the night.
Expressing wasn’t something I wanted to do, so this meant formula for us.
We agreed that I would breastfeed in the day but to let me recover he’d take over the night feeds with a bottle. And it worked perfectly- plus it gave my nipples a good rest.
After a couple of weeks I could have taken away a bottle at a time (she was on three bottles a night) and allowed my body to produce the required amount of milk to fully breastfeed, but I decided I preferred our system of combination feeding.
5. Talk to your partner
Having a caesarean is not just physically difficult. It’s also emotionally difficult. The physical pain means you feel like a burden on those closest to you.
Two weeks post my section, Mr London Mum got offered a two week job in Switzerland. Trying to be that cool, collected person I told him to take it.
The night before he left I broke down in tears. I wasn’t in a place mentally, physically or emotionally to be able to cope without his help.
I couldn’t lift my toddler, I was breastfeeding our daughter in the day and I hadn’t grasped how to deal with my toddler during that time- let alone figure out how to feed him or put him to bed with a baby attached to me 24/7.
I just wasn’t honest at the start with how much help I truly required. I did get help during that time from my parents and his parents but it isn’t the same as having your partner there- you need to be able to order someone around without feeling bad.
Once he realised how much I needed him at home he turned down all work and has only returned this week (I’m 8 weeks post now).
6. Take your medication
This is a no brainer. Take your medication. And even go as far as to set an alarm for your next dosage because if you miss out on any pain killers it’s painful (obviously). I took the recommended dosage day and night at regular intervals for at least two weeks before I started cutting back a little (down to one paracetamol or ibuprofen pill instead of two). And as long as you’re consistent with timings they’ll really do a lot to help. In the hospital I was given oral morphine as well as the pills which was great and again I happily accepted.
For some reason I didn’t want to take too much medication after my first born, this time I took everything and anything on offer! This isn’t the time to be a martyr.
You’ll know when you need to become less dependant on them because you won’t feel that searing pain start to creep up on you as it nears the time for your next dosage.
7. Press the buzzer
This time around on the post natal ward I made good use of my buzzer. I must have pressed it around 50 times!
With my son I was embarrassed about annoying the nurses, but they honestly don’t get annoyed if you need help. Even if you’re in pain you can ring the buzzer and ask if there’s anything extra you’re able to have to help. For the first day and night I buzzed when my baby girl woke up because I needed them to help me get her.
By day two they slowly helped me get out of bed and I was able to manoeuvre myself to pick her up as long I kept taking my medication at the right times.
The nurses are there to help you. They’ll answer any question, help with breastfeeding issues or just deal with any anxiety you might have over your baby.
Don’t be afraid to buzz, buzz, buzz.