Just as with natural birth stories, there are both bad and good Caesarean birth stories. Mine was fortunately a good one, so I wanted to settle the nerves of other C-section mamas and share how I recovered from my Caesarean.
There is an important part of my pregnancy that I haven’t touched on – after pregnancy – I realised that many women don’t really know what to expect after they’ve had a C-section. The truth is, things don’t always go according to plan. You may be completely set on giving birth naturally and by all means, stick to your decision as best as you can. But sometimes the unexpected happens and you and your baby’s safety and health may depend on medical intervention.
I thankfully knew a few weeks before I had Kai that I was going to have a Caesarean. I believe my doctor and I discussed it in my 34th-week appointment, so it wasn’t a surprise. Knowing about it before definitely helped me read further and manage my expectations of Kai’s birth. If you’ve read my birth story, you’ll know that even though I had a C-section scheduled, Kai was impatient and decided to come four days earlier than planned. I went into labour anyway, which was of course a huge surprise! For my full experience, have a read here. I was in the hospital for a total of three days after the birth and I would classify my recovery as really good. I was able to hold and breastfeed Kai straight away and was never prevented from doing either in the weeks that followed.
“I know that many women feel like failures if they end up having a C-section but, the way I see it, it’s not how you brought your child into the world that matters; it’s that you did.”
By the second day after the surgery, I had to get up and walk around to get my blood circulating, which is so important as it lessens the risk of blood clots. I made sure to take my time and, of course, the nurse helped me get from my bed to the bathroom. The pain meds I was on were really strong, so I didn’t feel more than a dull ache a couple of times throughout the day, just before my next dose was due. My doctor also came to check in on me and my wound soon after and explained what to look out for during my recovery to prevent any complications. The medical team was fantastic and made sure to bring my meds on time and be on call if I needed anything else. They also brought in a physiotherapist, who instructed me on exercises to help strengthen and heal my stomach muscles, and also what movements to avoid while I was recovering. He also advised that the heaviest thing I can carry was my little boy.
Once home, I had to use Micropore tape over the incision, which is a sort of masking tape lookalike but for your skin. It holds the incision together to help it heal. I then applied and massaged Bio-Oil onto my incision but over the tape twice daily for a few weeks, changing the tape every couple of days. I finished my painkillers about 10 days after returning from the hospital, but by that time my wound was only a bit sore (when I would get up from the sofa or bed by using my stomach muscles, which I shouldn’t have). I also continued doing the exercises the physiotherapist had shown me.
I’d definitely advise that you have someone to help you around the house to pick things up and do housework – the less bending you do the better so you can rest and recover quicker. Walking was a bit slow initially, but I was back to my normal mobility about a week after birth. Now when I look very closely in the mirror at my scar or run my fingers over it, it is only about 3.5 inches wide and just above my bikini line. It’s a very discreet reminder that I used to have a precious tenant in my womb. I know that many women feel like failures if they end up having a C-section but, the way I see it, it’s not how you brought your child into the world that matters; it’s that you did. Don’t let the end of your journey dictate how you feel or nullify the fact that you created, nurtured and carried this little human into being.
Aisha O’Reilly is a young African woman who loves natural hair, beauty and being a new mommy, among other things. Her aim is to inspire and encourage fellow women by giving them a peek into her life, with all of its ups, downs, questions and adventures in her blog, Aisha and Life.