Monday, July 26, 2010

Tips for Recovering

Here are some tips for healing immediately after the surgery.

These are straight off the ICAN website.

Healing in the hospital:

  • Ask for assistance when you need it and keep the nurse’s call button within easy reach.
  • If possible, obtain a private room so that a family member may remain with you.
  • Take pain medication as needed for comfort. Many mothers have found that narcotics (like codeine) can manage pain very well but can also cause constipation. Ask your doctor about using a stool softener.
  • Use pillows to support your stomach when turning, standing, coughing, and nursing.
  • Rest as much as possible and limit visitors. Sleep when the baby sleeps.
  • When you are ready, take short walks to prevent blood clots. If you cannot walk have someone massage your legs and ankles in bed, and keep your feet raised on a pillow. Also consider using medical support leg hose to prevent clotting if you cannot move or have to travel within six weeks of the cesarean.
  • Eat healthy food and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid soda and drinking with a straw since that can make you swallow air and cause gas.
  • Remember to urinate at least every 3 to 4 hours. This helps avoid or reduce the bladder pain that some mothers have after the surgery.
  • If you are planning to breastfeed, talk to your nurse or a lactation consultant about positioning that will be comfortable around your incision. While some women experience a delay in their breast milk production after a cesarean, extra support will help you get a good start.

Healing at home:

  • Take care of yourself and your baby only.
  • Remember not to lift anything heavier than your baby for four to six weeks after surgery.
  • Have a list of tasks ready for when people offer to help and don’t be shy to ask people for help.
  • Let others do household chores like cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Have frozen meals prepared.
  • If you have other children, ask a family member or friend to help you with their daily routine.
  • Consider enlisting the help of a postpartum doula or other support person for your recovery.
  • Have several diapering areas so you can change your baby easily.
  • Clothe yourself based on what you need. Staying in your pajamas can remind people that you are still recovering from birth and need extra help. On the other hand, taking a shower and getting dressed can help you feel refreshed and recharged.
  • Keep the baby near you at night so you do not have to get up.
  • Fill a basket full of little useful things that you can carry with you. Items can include healthy snacks, your medications, a book, lotion, or a cordless phone.
  • Eat well and drink plenty of fluids. Have a pitcher of water or juice near you.
  • Increase activity slowly.

Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Any bleeding in your incision. It can mean the surgical stitches have separated.
  • Unrelieved pain, or if the pain has increased.
  • Pus, leaking, redness and swelling in your incision, which can indicate an infection.
  • A fever can also suggest an infection, most likely in your incision.
  • Pain or cramping in your arms or legs that will not go away is a serious symptom and can suggest the presence of a blood clot. Other symptoms can include sudden swelling in the arm or leg, red or discolored skin, and skin that is warm to the touch.
  • Continuous headaches, dizziness or back pain could suggest after-effects of the anesthesia used during surgery.
  • Symptoms of postpartum depression can include tearfulness, anxiety, appetite changes, sleep problems, extreme fatigue, and difficulty focusing your thoughts, among others.

Long-term healing:

  • Keep your baby near you as much as possible.
  • Vitamin E capsules can improve the skin on the cesarean scar. Wait until the scar has healed, open a capsule, pour the oil on the scar and rub slowly.
  • Share your feelings with others who understand how you feel and talk about your experience as much as you feel necessary.
  • Write the story of your experience, with as much detail as possible.
  • Seek support from available resources including breastfeeding, parenting, and cesarean support groups like ICAN. Look for an ICAN chapter near you or join the online ICAN community.

For more support:

Call ICAN toll-free: 1(800)866-ICAN(4226)
For the ICAN website:
To find an ICAN chapter near you:

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