BY LAUREN BRENTON | Clinical Midwifery Specialist | Childbirth Educator|
Having a caesarean can be a scary thought, but just like anything the more prepared you are the easier you will find it. Whether you are having a planned caesarean or just in case you end up with one, here are some tips on how you can be prepared.
1. Write a caesarean section birth plan
Write down all the things that are important to you for during the caesarean section. This can help you clearly articulate to your team your wishes, especially if it is in an emergency setting.
For example, you could write down – who you would like in your caesarean, what music you would like played, whether you want photos taken for you or not, whether you want the screen lowered as the baby is being born, whether you want delayed cord clamping and that you want skin to skin contact with your baby in theatre.
2. Getting ready at home
It can take up to 6-8 weeks for you to fully recover from the surgery itself and then throw in sleep deprivation from feeding a new baby – so, it’s important to have some planning in place to make this time easier. Some things to plan include:
- Ask family and friends in advance for help at home for at least the first 2 weeks, especially if you have older children.
- Talk to older children about what it is going to be like when you come home as you won’t be able to lift them or have them sit on your lap.
- Cook meals and have them in your freezer so you don’t have to worry about cooking in those first few weeks
- Have all your baby items easily accessible and close to your bed (especially for those middle of the night feeds).
- Get large granny undies and clothing that is comfortable and sits above your wound. TheRY postnatal recovery leggings are perfect for sitting above the wound and decreasing your pain after birth
- Stock up on Panadol, maternity pads, and breastfeeding pads
- Have a supply of peppermint tea to help with any trapped wind which can be painful
3. Getting ready mentally
It can be really hard to mentally prepare for a caesarean section and you might be frightened, this is so normal!! To mentally prepare you can:
- Talk about it: Sometimes talking to your partner or healthcare provider about what it is that is worrying you can be really helpful
- Go into the hospital and meet the staff
- Ask your obstetrician or midwife to talk you through exactly what the process for the caesarean is (this changes for every hospital)
- Try to stay calm: this can be done by learning breathing techniques, meditation, or visualisation before and during your caesarean section
- Think of a mantra: Think of a mantra that you can repeat in your heart, this can help you remind yourself that you are about to have a beautiful little baby and you are so strong.
- Play my One Mama Midwife Labour Playlist around the house so you feel comfortable and relaxed and then have this playing in the caesarean to relax you.
4. The day before the caesarean
The day before the caesarean can be a daunting one, wondering what time you’ll meet your little one and if you have everything ready. The day before the caesarean you should:
- Shave or wax your bikini area
- Do any skin preparation that your hospital has asked you to do
- Stop eating and drinking at least 8 hours before your caesarean
Recovering after a caesarean section
Everyone’s recovery is different, so it is important that you do not compare yourself to others and recover in your own time. It is important not to do any strenuous exercise before 6 weeks to allow your body time to heal properly.
Here are some tips to make your recovery easier:
1. Wear compression tights to help you feel more supported
TheRY postnatal compression leggings can help you feel supported, reduce pain while walking, help support your abdominal muscles and reduce swelling.
2. Early gentle mobilisation within 12 hours of your surgery:
Mobilising early after a caesarean section can improve the transport of oxygen throughout the body, improves insulin resistance, reduces the risk of blood clots, shortens the length of stay in the hospital and can improve pain. It is important for your pain to be well controlled prior to early mobilisation. You should then slowly increase your walking each day to help aid your recovery.
3. Be patient and gentle on your body:
You have just had a major operation, so it is important that you don't push yourself
4. Do your pelvic floor exercises regularly:
The weight of the pregnancy can put strain on your pelvic floor. In addition to wearing compression tights, it is important to do your pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen the muscles supporting your uterus, bowels and bladder.
5. Roll onto your side and push up with your arms to get up and down:
This will help to not put strain on your caesarean wound, allowing you to recover and reduce your pain
6. Take regular pain relief as needed so that your pain does not get out of control:
Sometimes it can be tempting to try to ‘wait it out’ and see if it gets better when it comes to pain relief after a caesarean. Pain after a caesarean can snowball, getting worse if you leave it. If you are feeling pain, it is important to ask for pain relief early so that you can stay on top of it.
7. Deep breathing:
Every few hours try to take in 5 deep breaths, thinking about breathing all the way to the bottom of your lungs. If you need to cough, use a rolled towel or pillow to support your stitches and help reduce your pain
Remember, a caesarean section is a major operation, and we are not meant to do it all alone. Talk to your partner about your wishes, get prepared, take all the help you can and follow these recovery tips to help you have the amazing caesarean experience that you deserve.
Clinical Midwifery Specialist | Childbirth Educator | Mama of 4
Helping to educate, inspire & empower.