There are a few aspects to having a caesarean section birth that end up being quite surprising. The primary one, though you don’t realise it until later, is how little information women get about the procedure and the recovery process, including cosmetic repair options like Vanquish. Here are a few lessons I absorbed after having my baby via C-section that I like to pass on to other women so they know more about what to expect.
First, don’t beat yourself up
Believe me, you’ll be going through enough! In my case, I developed gestational diabetes, and despite following the diet to the letter, as my pregnancy advanced, so did my condition. I simply couldn’t keep my blood sugar numbers down no matter what, so in the final month, I was put on daily insulin. Because that wasn’t enough, three weeks before I was due we realised that my little guy was still breach. I had a version attempted – something I wouldn’t wish on anyone – but he wouldn’t budge.
Physically and emotionally, I felt great, but the medical intervention around my pregnancy was taking a great deal of time and energy. After a conversation with my doctor, I decided that she was being rational in recommending a C-section.
To return to the original point: Sometimes, the procedure is the best course of action, and hanging on to it mentally afterward applies needless pressure on days that will be full enough.
Ensure you have support
Perhaps because the procedure has become more routine, it almost isn’t even approached as the serious surgery that it is. And if you have not had surgery before, as I had not, you might not be prepared for just how laid up you are when your abdominal wall has been breached in this manner. Before receiving my aftercare instructions, I was so glib that I told my karate instructor I’d be back in “about two weeks”. Boy, was I wrong.
You will be in hospital for several days, of course, but after you arrive home you’ll need people who can step into action with meals, cleaning, and letting you get at least a little rest. You will not be able to walk much for the first week, and if you are breastfeeding you might experience a lot of discomfort both up top and in your abdomen. Help to hold, change, swaddle and rock the baby when you aren’t nursing will be worth its weight in gold.
Care for yourself
Movement and mindful attention to yourself speed the healing process by oxygenating your blood so your cells can work to repair the incision site. Within the first week, even if for just 10 or 15 minutes a day, lie on your back and, with your hands on your belly, breathe deeply. Count to five on the inhale and five on the exhale. Do this five times.
Within the first two weeks, if you’re healing well and your doctor says it’s alright, you can start doing movements to redevelop your core muscles. Lying down, slowly bend one leg and, keeping your foot flat, slide the leg up and back down. Do this a few times on each side. Meanwhile, work up to being able to walk 3 to 5 minutes at a time.
Attend to your scar tissue
No one told me that the scar tissue would let me know it was there for years. I healed well, but 11 years later, I can still get a twinge when I least expect it – say, when I’m doing plank variations in barre class or lifting something heavy. I assumed scar tissue was limited to the place where the incision was. Wrong again.
Scar tissue can grow, attaching itself to surrounding areas and causing pain and discomfort. Soon after you’ve healed, have a massage or physical therapist help you break up the scar tissue so that it doesn’t cause problems down the road. Also, be aware that the incision site for many women will end up with a shelf of skin hanging over it, so that even when you’ve lost the weight, that area could be loose and a bit misshapen. Some obstetricians will do a little “tummy tuck” on their C-section patients. Mine didn’t offer to and, frankly, it didn’t occur to me to even ask.
Understandably, though, many women wouldn’t choose to have another surgery to correct the appearance of this area. If that’s the case for you, you might want to save your quid for a series of vanquish tummy tightening treatments; it’s popular with celebrities for good reason. The procedure reduces and moves abdominal fat so there’s less that hangs over the scar shelf.
A little knowledge can save women some pain and surprises and let you get on with loving your baby and yourself.
Until Next Time… Charlotte x