Preparing for a planned C-Section and 5 recovery tips!
When I was 32 weeks pregnant with my son, I found out that he was in a frank breech position, meaning his feet and head were up in my ribcage and his butt was down near my pelvis.
I was told he still had plenty of time to flip into a head-down position, but as my due date approached, he didn’t budge.
At 37 weeks, I was faced with the decision of doing an External Cephalic Version (ECV) to manually turn him, or schedule a c-section. After being counseled on the risks, I opted for a scheduled C-section.
This definitely wasn’t part of my birth plan, and I was bummed. I also had no idea what to expect when it came to preparing for a c-section birth! If you find yourself in a similar situation right now, I want to share my experience and my top 5 tips for preparing for a planned C-section so that you can head into your birth stress-free!!
If we are meeting for the first time - Hi! Welcome to Vibrant Mama Wellness! My name is Megan, and I am a pre and postnatal personal trainer. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a specialization in pre+postnatal fitness through Pronatal fitness. I am a mom to a toddler, and pregnant with my second baby!
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional before starting or making any changes to your exercise program).
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First things first, what should you expect heading into your c-section?!
For me, I was told to fast for 12 hours beforehand, only being allowed to drink water. Once I got to the hospital, I checked in and was sent to triage for surgery prep. We had a lot of downtime so I recommend bringing a book or something to do because it was a lot of sitting around! (and my surgery time kept getting pushed back). I was hooked up to monitors to check on the baby, had my IV put in, and was counseled again on the risks of anesthesia and surgery by the OB and anesthesiologist. When it came to head to the OR, I was able to walk myself in, and the process of getting the spinal and the catheter put in was very quick! Shortly after that, my husband came into the OR, and the C-section began! I was allowed to bring in my birth playlist which helped keep me calm, and my OB verbally walked me through what was happening which also helped me feel less anxious (definitely recommend advocating for these things if they’re important to you!)
Overall, I would say it was a very peaceful and calm experience, and way less scary and stressful than I was expecting it to be! It was also very quick!
Okay so let’s get to my tips. Most of them have to do with the prep for AFTER surgery and once you get home to help with the recovery process!
Structure your home/space to be post-surgery friendly:
If you’re someone who lives in a 2 story home, this is a big one!! It’s typically advised that you only go up and down the stairs once per day in the first week to two weeks after surgery. If your bedroom and nursery are on the second floor, this can be tricky! Set up a basket in your downstairs bathroom with essentials for you (think extra maxi pads, extra underwear just in case), and then have a baby station downstairs as well. I had a basket full of diapers, wipes, extra onesies, and burp cloths, as well as an extra changing pad. Having a station for feeding too (whether you’re breastfeeding or doing bottles) can be really helpful! Then when you head up to bed for the night, bring the basket with you and restock.
Invest in high-waisted, compression underwear that can accommodate pads:
This was a game-changer for me. I wore high-waisted, compression underwear for the first 2-3 weeks, and it helped so much when it came to feeling like everything was “in place” post-c-section. Now the key with compression is you want it to be tight, but not tight enough that you can’t freely move around. I personally loved this brand of compression underwear, and they also had a little silicone patch on the inside for where your incision is so the fabric didn’t rub against it. They also allowed room for putting in pads while I was still bleeding. For the days that I wasn’t feeling the compression or it just felt uncomfortable, I had some high-waisted cotton underwear that was very comfortable and didn’t irritate my incision.
Sleep in a supported/inclined position:
The most excruciating pain for me after the c-section was trying to sit up from a lying down position (i.e. getting up out of bed whenever the baby cried at night). I made the mistake of laying flat in my bed, and it’s something I do not recommend to anyone! Instead, try to sleep in an inclined position. You can stack a bunch of pillows behind your head, or even sleeping in a recliner can be helpful! This obviously varies from person to person, and what works best for you might not work for someone else, but I would take this into consideration ahead of time!
Walk and practice belly breathing/gentle stretching as much as you can:
As soon as day 1 post-surgery, you can start doing belly breathing which will also help with the healing process! Take nice deep inhale breaths, allowing the belly to expand, and then exhale and fully empty your lungs. Doing this multiple times a day is great, and also benefits your pelvic floor! After about a week or so, you can start incorporating some VERY gentle stretching such as lifting your arms overhead as you breathe (inhale and raise arms overhead, exhale and lower them down). I also recommend getting out for short walks if you're able to around 1 week postpartum! This can be as simple as going out to the mailbox and back, but moving your body can help with blood flow and recovery.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
This is a biggy! Remember that your body just went through MAJOR surgery, and you can’t do everything on your own! It’s okay to ask for help, and this can mean help moving around, helping with the baby, or helping around the house. You are not a burden and you deserve to be pampered! So ditch the guilt and as for help (and most likely people will be more than happy to give it!)
If you want to really optimize that 0-6 week recovery period postpartum, I encourage you to watch my free postpartum masterclass! In this masterclass, I’m joined by my colleague and pre/postnatal nutritionist, Caitlin Cipriano, where we talk about how to nourish and support your body in those early weeks postpartum to optimize the healing process and get back to feeling like you! Watch it here!
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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.