Recovery is just as important as the event itself and when we talk about recovery we mean the whole woman, not just the physical body. Whether or not a cesarean birth is a planned part of your birth story there are some important and helpful things to know for the recovery period including your mental and emotional health too.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN YOUR PHYSICAL RECOVERY
HOW TO COPE WITH PHYSICAL DISCOMFORT
Read all of the information they gave you at the hospital AFTER you are home AGAIN- it typically includes checklists & reminders of what to do during your next 6 weeks of recovery. It will give you info on how to take care of your incision, yourself, your body, your baby, what appointments to schedule for you & baby, and where to get help if needed. It should also include information and resources for mental and emotional well-being during the postpartum period.
EMOTIONAL RECOVERY AFTER CESAREAN BIRTH
Chances are if you follow our podcast and had a cesarean birth it was likely not planned, so the #1 thing we want to stress to you here is that you did not fail! YOU did nothing wrong. YOU are an excellent mother who did everything in your power to bring your baby earthside in the safest possible way. We are proud of you!
Even when a cesarean birth is totally necessary & the best/safest thing for you and baby, you will have some emotional baggage to unpack. With that being said, the first thing we want you to focus on is SLEEP.
...Before you dive into the birth story you are playing and replaying in your head
...Before you tell yourself ANY negative thing at all about yourself or the experience
...Before you talk to someone that would be in any way unsupportive
...This usually means after you get home since sleeping in the hospital doesn't usually happen since nurses wake you up alllll through the night. It's just not conducive to sleep. The tricky part of all of this is that your hospital stay is longer (typically 3 days).
On top of all the emotions and thoughts you will be having from the experience, your milk will be coming in (which may be delayed due to pain medication) which triggers a massive drop in hormones like oxytocin. This drop can make for a rough time emotionally for every mama postpartum.
This is often followed by 2 weeks of baby blues which can continue on (after the 2 weeks) as postpartum depression or other mood disorders.
If you are a mom who deals with mood disorders already, continue taking or begin taking again the necessary medications. Work with your provider to choose ones that are safe for a breastfeeding baby if this is how you are choosing to feed your baby.
Unfortunately, postpartum care for women is lacking. Providers don’t see cesarean moms until a 2-3 week postpartum incision check which is far too long for a mother that has been suffering. We see the same problem for women with vaginal births- if working with an OB they are not seen until their 6-week postpartum visit which is why we stress within the birth course to have the husband very aware of the signs and symptoms of postpartum mood disorders.
Here are some simple ways to process your cesarean experience:
Enjoy the time with your new baby. For some women, this begins the healing process. For others, it may hard to connect with your baby, and that is a sign that it’s time to ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help - just be sure to ask the RIGHT resources! You deserve to receive love, support, and anything else you need as begin this next chapter in your mothering journey.