It’s an exciting time for everyone but when a baby comes into the world via c-section, Mommy will need some extra TLC!
Mazel tov! It’s a baby!
I, BH just had my seventh C-section and I want to help other mommies who are going through this happy but challenging process.
I look at c-sections as a big bracha. Hashem has created modern medicine, which has enabled me to live in a time where I BH have a big family even though all my children were born with a section.
If you are having a planned c-section, it can be helpful to get some of the items beforehand so you have them when you are in the hospital or right when you come home since this is the most challenging time.
Setting Up Your Bedroom
- When you come home from the hospital, it can be hard to sit up in bed without support. A bed rail like this can be helpful for the first week or two. Check a medical equipment gemach in your area if they have one you can borrow.
- You can put a stool in the shower if it is hard to stand up for a long time.
- A Halo bassinet is expensive but very helpful. It comes over your bed and the side bends down so you don’t really need to sit up to put the baby in and out. It swivels around so that you can get in and out of bed. I bought one and I lend it out to friends who have c-sections.
- A wedge pillow is very useful both during pregnancy, in the hospital and when you come home. It is a good idea to sit on it on the way home from the hospital so you don’t feel too many bumps on the road!
- A nursing pillow. You can use a boppy nursing pillow or just any pillow to protect your scar when you are nursing.
- It is helpful to have a heating pad and a cold pack to put on the incision area or for back pain. I found that the ones that are long and narrow give you the best coverage.
Bring to the Hospital
- A good binder which gives adequate pressure can make it easier to walk around in the beginning. The hospital will provide you with one but you can also try some other ones with more options.
- Loose fitting pajamas. If you are going to want to change out of your hospital gown, bring some pajamas that will be comfortable to wear over your incision.
This is a general outline of how I found the recovery process and what helped me through these stages. In terms of recovery, everyone obviously has their own experience but here are some ideas, tips and tricks.
Week 1: In the hospital, they want you to get up and move as soon as possible. You might feel weak and shaky so move slowly. Gas pain in your shoulder is common so taking gas medication before it starts can preempt that. Normal post labor contractions happen post a C-section too. A hot pack can be soothing or deep breathing can help you through.
After the first 12 hours, the extra pain relief from the spinal wears off so you feel the incision more.
For better or worse, you spend the first few days post-surgery in a haze of pain medication. It is super important to have a lot of help with you in the hospital and when you get home during this time since you can’t really do anything besides feed the baby. If the hospital doesn’t have a nursery, you need someone with you at all times night and day to help with the baby.
If you are having a planned c section you can prepare beforehand. You should drink a ton of fluids and don’t eat any heavy foods like meat or chicken which can make digestion harder afterwards.
After the first 24 hours, you begin to feel pain around the incision. Having robust pain management is crucial – speak to your doctor before the surgery to make sure that you are both on the same page on what meds you will be taking and when and then delegate management of your meds to someone else!
We have a notice on my bedside table that says: 9, 3 Advil, 12, 6 Tylenol (this schedule is for both AM/PM) and a handwritten chart for the “as needed” meds like the narcotics, stool softeners and gas medication–it just helps keep track of what medicine to take when.
Week 2 is also still a time when you will very likely need pain meds around the clock but you can probably slowly walk around the house. You still need help with housework, caring for other children, errands and meals all the way through week 3 and possibly week 4 as well.
The hardest part of week 2 is that by now I’m sick of lying in bed but I really can’t do much!! Make sure to set expectations with all your kids of what Mommy is able to do.
During Week 3 you feel like you are slowly coming back to reality but it is still painful to move around too much. After an active day, you start to feel it and need to keep resting.
By Week 4 you can finally move around more easily and start to take care of some housework and childcare.
By Week 6, you should basically feel back to yourself physically but of course you are still dealing with a newborn and all that entails. If pain persists, speak to your doctor and I have found physical therapy to be helpful.
If the C-section was unplanned, after a prolonged labor or not how you pictured your labor and delivery would look like, then you might feel unsuccessful. However, it’s an avoda to try to look at a c section as a bracha and a way to deliver babies safely into the world which otherwise would not be possible.
If you are awake for the procedure, which you usually are unless there are specific circumstances, then you can enjoy the c section and it can be a special time for you and your husband. It is pain free at that point and a controlled environment so there is less to be worried about medical wise. You can listen to music or a birth meditation or you can talk to your husband who can usually sit next to you during the procedure.
If you know you will have a section, it’s important to have a good surgeon and a doctor who is understanding of Jewish family values. You can discuss beforehand staples vs stitches, relaxing music during the surgery, skin to skin right after the baby is born etc.
Ask a shayla about the halachos relevant to childbirth and how they apply during/after the procedure if your C-section is planned.
It might be helpful to speak to your other children about how mommy needs time to get better. During the first week or two, your husband can arrange that the kids have turns for about ten minutes to come into your room and have time to talk to you. It’s useful if they have a new craft or toy “from the baby” to keep them busy when you’re not around.
In general, it’s a busy and overwhelming time but remember you were part of something huge, bringing life into this world! Try to treasure the good moments and focus on a time soon that you will feel all better. Enjoy your new baby, take care of yourself, and let others take care of you for a change too!