Whether you had a planned, unplanned or emergency c-section, delivering your sweet baby this way is no joke! (If you haven’t read Jameson’s birth story, read it here!)
They essentially cut you in half in order to pull your baby out, but many people don’t see having a c-section as a major surgery so many mamas out there are forced to recover and take care of their sweet baby with little to no help in those first couple weeks.
Or, if you’re anything like me, you try to do it all yourself and delay your recovery even more.
So please, learn from my mistakes.
Here are 21 things that I learned throughout this process that everyone needs to read before they are wheeled back to the operating room (or even after!).
It’s major surgery – So many people forget that having a c-section is in fact considered major surgery and you need to treat yourself as someone who needs recovery time and rest. Don’t try to be wonder woman and do it all, trust me, you’ll set your recovery time back and it will be super frustrating!
Keep your incision dry – After showers I would lay down and let my incision air dry. I truly believe that because of this my incision healed very quickly. Added bonus: you get a little extra ‘me time’ there!
Move, but move slowly – After my c-section with Jameson, they had me up and walking within 24 hours. It was rough at first. My legs were wabbly and I had to lean on both nurses helping me up. But let me tell you sister, those 3:00am slow walks down the hallway with my husband and new baby were some of the most relaxing moments in the hospital. The postpartum halls were void of visitors, you heard mamas and their new babies in each room, the lights were dimmed so as to not disturb new little families. I loved it, and I highly encourage you to take advantage of that time together!
Drink water – get your insides moving – After moving to the postpartum room they encourage you to drink a lot of water and check your catheter bag to make sure that you body is passing urine as it should. I was constantly getting in trouble for not drinking enough water, and I truly believe that played a part in me getting mastitis twice within the first month of Jameson being born. Water is absolutely essential in not only the healing process, but the milk making process as well. So if you’re not replenishing that water, you’re going to have problems.
Your first poop hurts – I was released from the hospital four days after I gave birth. That morning I pooped for the first time since before I was induced and goodness gracious…it felt like I was in labor all over again. So take my advice, and if they offer you a stool softener, take it! This might be TMI, but I wish a sister would have told me about this part of the postpartum experience! You’re welcome.
No heavy lifting or driving – What your doctor tells you may be different (please listen to them, they know what is best!), but I was not allowed to pick up anything that was heavier than my baby (I couldn’t carry him in the car seat) for two weeks and I couldn’t drive for two weeks. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of nice being driven around for two weeks, but it was really hard to remember not to pick up anything too heavy. Just stay aware of what you’re doing because you don’t want to hurt your healing body.
Hurts to laugh, sneeze or cough – Roughly 24 hours after my c-section, as my husband and was trying to change Jameson, he made a comment (I can’t remember what it was) that I thought was absolutely hilarious but I wanted to punch him at the same time…NO ONE told me that it was going to hurt to laugh. Yes, I should have expected it, but oh my goodness. Then I sneezed for the first time about a week later and about fell off the couch in pain. A tip my mom gave me was to put a pill on my lap and squeeze it when I have to laugh, sneeze or cough. So take her advice, it really works!
Set alarms – meds/feeding/water – I had the hardest time remember when the last feed, diaper change or pumping session was. I even forgot to drink water for almost a day (which I believe wasl part of the reason why I got mastitis the first time). The apps to track everything were decent, but it was a pain trying to go from one tab to the other, from one app to the other, and then in most I wasn’t able to set multiple alarms (I have a problem with hitting snooze or off and not realizing it…) That’s when I created this for myself, set a couple alarms on my phone and was good to go from there on out! Two of the biggest reasons I loved the binder was because: 1. It was a visual reminder to log feedings, diapers, ect. And 2. If my mom took over while I napped or my mother law came to help while I went to the store, I didn’t have to remember to write anything down for them or teach them how to use an app, I literally just walked out the door or whent to bed and everything was in the binder for them. One less thing to worry about!
All the mesh panties – When I found out that I was pregnant for the first time, everyone told me that the mesh panties were amazing and I didn’t realize just how amazing they were talking. After I miscarried and had to have a D&C, those mesh panties were a life-saver, but after a c-section, they were the best thing that God had ever had mankind create! I unfortunately didn’t think about stashing them and asking for more until the day before I was discharged so I didn’t have as many as I would have wanted when I went home. However, I just recently found out you can order them online…I know what I’m putting on my baby registry next time! Ha!
Loose clothes – When I was packing for our hospital stay, I thought that the pants that were a little snug on me 9 months pregnant would be perfect to come home from the hospital in. Girl….those dang pants were STILL tight on me! You are so swollen after a c-section and are still retaining water, so I highly recommend that whatever fits you when you’re 9 months pregnant, wear that home. You’ll thank me later!
Essential baskets – When you get home from the hospital after a c-section, chances are you are going to do something similar to what I did. I walked in, found the couch, and ploped my butt down, not moving for the next several hours. During which time I know that my family that came to help (especially my poor husband) was especially tired of my crap after I asked for something for the 10th item in the last thirty minutes. So do yourself (and your family) a favor, and create essential baskets for yourself to put next to the couch and your bed that will be in arms reach for you. Put essential items that you’re going to need: water, snacks, chapstick, lotion, the remote…anything that you could possibly need within arms reach to make your life (and your family’s lives) easier.
Pads – Buy. All. The. Pads. Period. Also, continue to keep plenty on hand after you stop your postpartum bleeding, because you never know when that first period is going to hit you something serious! (I got my first period 5 months postpartum)
Support pillow – There should really be an s on the word “pillow” because you are going to need ALL THE PILLOWS! It took so many different pillows, blankets and positions to find a way to sleep that was actually comfortable and didn’t stretch out my incision. One way that really helped me was laying recliented with a huge pillow under my knees to keep my incision from stretching out too much. Or on my side in the fetal position with a pillow behind my back for support was super comfortable for me once I transitioned into the bed (I slept on the couch for the first week home because the bed was way too high for me to get in and out of constantly), also, my husband is an EMT and he had to wake up super early so I didn’t want to disrupt his already minimal sleep schedule. I know, I know, I’m a saint. 😉
Track Everything – You’re going to forget the last time you showered, the last time you peed and even the last time you ate something…so how are you supposed to remember to track everything from diaper changes to feedings for your little one? I was told to get this app and that app, but to be completely honestly I could hardly find my phone half the time and was constantly forgetting to open up the app and track everything or sometimes my phone was just completely dead. That’s when I created the printable baby planner for myself because I needed a tangible reminder on the coffee table to remember everything and let me tell you, I tracked everything! And I’m so glad I did so I didn’t feel like an incompetent mom when we went to the doctor and I was so exhausted I could hardly remember my son’s birthday! The one thing I love about the binder I created was that I simply handed it to my doctor and she did all the work! (And was quite impressed I might ad!)
Take a shower as soon as you can – One huge mistake I made while in the hospital was thinking that I couldn’t shower until I got home. I guess the complete exhaustion I was in from the meds, just giving birth and our struggle with breastfeeding simply got the best of me on this one. But please, do yourself a favor and as soon as the doctor clears you, shower! You may need help and support, but you will feel like a new woman!
Sleep as much as you can – I know for a lot of women they are tired of hearing “sleep when the baby sleeps”, but I tell you, get a good support system in place so in those first couple weeks you can! Yes you are going to be sleep deprived, yes you are going to question when the last time you showered was, but if in those first couple weeks you take advantage of everyone that wants to help and get some rest, you’ll feel so much better and be able to care for you little more! You also need to remember that your body is still healing and taking time to sleep will help this go a lot smoother!
Take time for yourself – I don’t know about you, but when I had my first baby, Jameson, I felt so guilty for even taking the time away from him to shower! Mommy guilt and mommy shame for taking care of ourselves is so ingrained in our society and to be honest I’m so sick of it. Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup”? Well, the same rings true for motherhood. You can’t reach your full potential as a mother if you don’t take time to rest and re-fill yourself – even if that means a quick 10 minute lukewarm shower. Enjoy those 10 minutes mama, you deserve them and so much more!
Talk it out – In those first couple months after your sweet baby is born, your emotions are going to be all over the place. You are going to question everything and that’s okay! Did you hear me? I said that’s okay! Just make sure that when you’re feeling down or upset about something you don’t bottle it up. Find someone that you can talk to (friend, doctor, therapist, family member) so that you don’t end up like I did at one point, feeling secluded, unappreciated and unloved.
It’s okay to grieve – Some women grieve for different reasons after childbirth: they wish they were still pregnant, they hate themselves for having to have a c-section, they got those pain meds when they wanted an unmedicated birth. Whatever the reason is, it’s okay to grieve but don’t let yourself dwell on it. (See the tip above about talking to someone.) I grieved a lot after everyone went back to work and it was just me and my son at home during the day. I was left to think and all I could think about was how much my body failed me because I had to have a c-section. I fell into the trap of believing that having a c-section isn’t really giving birth and it was a hard pit to crawl out of (this is something I still work on daily).
Which leads me to…
C-Sections are births – C-SECTIONS. ARE. BIRTHS. PERIOD. To be honest, I think you’re a bit more of a bad*ss if you got cut in half to bring your child into this world. Yes, you might not have had to push your baby out, but you went through MAJOR surgery and just a couple days later are released from the hospital to care for this tiny infant…you’re a bad*ss in my book. Just saying.
Photos – My absolute biggest regret was not allowing the professional infant photographer at the hospital to take pictures of Jameson and I. I hadn’t showered in a couple days, I was in pain, I was hot, I was tired and I looked like an absolute train wreck! All I could think about were those women that looked nearly perfect after giving birth and I didn’t match up to them. So, if you’re about to give birth or recently did, don’t shy away from the camera. You’re not going to care if your hair and make-up was perfect or not, you’re going to want to document those early memories to cherish forever (because trust me, the lack of sleep causes a bit of a haze to cloud your memory – I think that’s God’s way to tricking us into having more kids 😉 )
Well, there you have it mama. The 21 things I learned (the hard way) through my c-section. What are the lessons you learned?
Leave your comments below, or head over to our Instagram @babies.and.bibles and let me know! DM, tagging, last photo comment, doesn’t matter. I want to hear from you, mama friend!
DISCLAIMER: Please use this blog post as a guideline. Please follow the rules and advice set forth by your own doctor or medical professional.