Saturday, June 29, 2013

C-section recovery hints and tips

Towards the end of this week I will hit the 6 month mark. Wow. As it gets closer simple realizations like, oh, this baby has to find a way out, comes to mind. I know I will be having a C-section already with this baby due to past history and issues with my hips/spine.

I am by no means an expert in c-sections. I have only had one myself, so I decided to talk to some of my friends who have also had c-sections to see their take on the situation as well. I'm sure some of these you have heard or read of before but maybe not, so here goes.

Before your c-section (if you know your going to have one - if not, well, you're pretty SOL)
  • Shower now
    • Birth is messy and it will be a while before you can shower again.
  • Trim up your girly parts yourself
    • The staff will probably have to still do this, depending on where your incision is and how much is going on down there. So, your gonna have to get over that, but if you at least trim it down, it may reduce razor burn and itching.
  • Follow your doctors orders about eating and drinking
    • Remember, it's surgery.
  • Remind the staff of your c-section birth plan
    • Yes you should have one for a c-section!
  • Try to enjoy the last moment that you are pregnant
    • Whether your enjoying it for being done or enjoying it because it was pleasant, just take a breathe and try to relax.
  • Take photos
    • This is your last chance to take photos of yourself pregnant, just do it!
  • Prepare yourself for the surgery and ask questions about what's happening
    • Read a book or watch a movie if you have the stomach for it. As much time as I spent reading and preparing for a vaginal birth I was very underprepared for a C-section.
    • One thing I didn't know or didn't remember when the time came is that they will strap you down at your legs, your elbows and at your wrists. You won't be able to move. This was fairly bothersome for me. They did undo my arms after he was born so I could touch his face but I was very upset about being "tied down".
    • Be honest about the anesthesiology and if you can feel them during the tests. When they were testing to see if I could feel anything after the first dose I said I could still feel them poking me and was able to correctly tell them where they were poking me. They waited a bit longer and eventually gave me more which finally made it so I couldn't feel them poking at me. I shudder to think if I hadn't spoken up or they hadn't tested me by poking my belly.

In the hospital
  • Remember one thing
    • You just had massive abdominal surgery and now have a newborn to take care of on top of it. Normally no one in their right mind would expect you to even try to take care of yourself after being gutted like a deer, yet take care of another human being who depends on you for everything. Try to remember this and set realistic goals for the both of you.
  • You may shake like a crack addict in recovery and afterwards
    • You may shake so bad your teeth rattle and you cannot stop it. It's normal but very unsettling if you don't know to expect it. It's all the medication from surgery wearing off.
  • You maybe very itchy
    • One of my friends and I experienced this but not another friend. Our skin was extremely itchy and it happened around the same time as the shaking.
  • You may start coughing
    • This may be an adverse reaction to medication. Speak up! Coughing after surgery is very bad, not just because it hurts but because you can do actual damage (burst blood vessels and whatnot).
  • Ask for help
    • Ask for help with whatever you need. Getting out of bed. Picking up your newborn. Putting on socks. Just ask for help.
  • Grab a pillow and hold it against your stomach
    • Whenever you move at the beginning, hold a pillow to your stomach, it will help with the pain.
  • Never lay all the way down or flat
    • You probably won't even want to try anyways, stretching your stomach muscles hurts, but try to avoid laying flat. It will take a year and a half to get up. Use pillows to help prop you up and use the adjustable bed as much as possible.
  • Don't curl up in a fetal position
    • While you don't want to lie flat, try not to curl up tight either while sleeping. When you wake up it hurts just as much as laying flat. I found that if I slept on my side with a pillow against my stomach and a pillow between my knees it helped so much.
  • Roll
    • If you have to get out of bed by yourself and you are on your side or back, grab the pillow and roll yourself to whatever side you need.
  • Take your pain meds
    • Don't be stupid. If someone had gutted you under normal circumstances you would be hitting that pain button as often as you could. If you are nursing they will give you meds your OB approves of and they won't let you take more than is allowed. Don't skip doses either!
  • Take your stool softener
    • All of my friends and myself all underestimated this one. It didn't click with any of us the importance of stool softeners. But here's the deal, your OB just opened up your insides and moved them all around and your lower side is not happy. Just take them.
  • Ease slowly back into normal food
    • I was so sick before having my son that I had only kept soup down in the last few days. I was so starving but the first food they brought me was not digestion friendly and instead made me feel even more sick. I wish I would have thought to ask them to bring me things like soup, jell-o and yogurts.
  • Get moving
    • As horrible as the idea sounds, you really do have to get moving as soon as you can. It took me 20 minutes to get out of bed and walk 5 feet to the bathroom that first time. But the reason the nurses and doctors will harp on you is that the longer you stay in bed, the more your muscles will heal in a scrunched up position and long term that equals bad.
  • Don't be alarmed when you pee that first time
    • The best way I can describe it is weird. I got up a few hours after my c-section, after the meds had all worn out. I was still on IV fluids for an infection and other issues, so the first time I peed I felt like I had no control and instead it just came gushing out. It was gross and way more than I expected with a c-section; I guess I expected they would have sucked out a lot of it and if they did, wow, that was still a lot left. It freaked me out. It was all bloody. I felt bad for my nurse who had to measure it. Yuck all around.
  • Now's not the time to try out your pushing skills
    • More bathroom advice. If you have to go go, take your time. This isn't a race. Relax.
  • Don't look at your staples
    • My one friend didn't mind but the idea of metal in my skin grossed me out. Yuck. It still does.
  • Take a shower as soon as you can
    • I felt so incredibly gross, itchy and covered in sweat by the time I was unhooked from everything that I couldn't wait to take a shower. My hospital had a 24 hour wait from delivery time period which I wasn't expecting at all. Make sure to ask your hospital if they have a rule like this.
  • Keep your scar dry by using a pad
    • Seriously, it's got to stay dry or it will get all gross. Towel it gently or use your hair dryer on cool to dry it carefully after showers. After you dry it, stick a pad horizontally across and right up against it. It will help draw the moisture away from it.
  • Request more food if your hungry
    • By the 2nd day I was starving. I ate every single piece of food on my tray, food I would never eat normally. I could not seem to eat enough food. One of the nurses tipped us off that if I was still hungry I just had to let them know and they can add more food to your trays. One entrée only? Screw that, order two. Don't like any of the options, ask what other options are available, I was told that at my hospital things like chicken fingers, mac n cheese and pizza are usually available for lunch and dinner every day! Another tip I learned was that my hospital had a small kitchen on it's maternity floor stocked with cheeses, yogurts, juices, crackers and other small items. I cleared them out of cheese and crackers but they didn't seem to mind.
At Home
  • Get help
    • Whether you have to bribe, beg or pay someone, you will need help. Accept meals, baby sitting and any other wonderful things people are willing to do for you.
  • Have meals on hand you can eat with one hand
    • Whether you make them yourself before hand or you beg someone else to do it for you, having simple meals already on hand helps. Your brain is already so tired and standing up for long periods of time to make a meal just doesn't happen with a C-section scar.
  • Take the stairs sitting down and backwards
    • If you have stairs in your house, at some point you will have to tackle them. If you need to go up them and are carrying something important, like your baby, but are still shaky, you will need to take your time. Sit down on each step with your feet firmly planted on the step below you, then gently lift yourself up each step, making sure to rest on each step. You can do the same going down, sliding down each step on your rump like a toddler does.
  • Make a baby head quarters
    • Try and put all of the baby stuff in one area. Having to schlepp diapers from one floor to the next or even room to room is overrated.
  • Put your changing station at stomach level
    • While I later changed A.'s diapers on the floor with a changing pad, at first it was so much easier to change them with him laying on the pad that was secured on top of a dresser.

Any tips or hints I missed?

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