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recovery after c-section - advice please

(23 Posts)
emmaij Sun 23-Feb-03 19:43:04

due to the dfficult birth of my daughter i have ben advised to have a c-section with the birth of this baby (due in June) Thing is I'm worried about the recovery time, what I can, cannot do. i don't have a mother/sister i can call upon to help with my soon-to-be two year old, and though my dh gets 10 days paternity leave I'm worried that this won't be enough.

what will I be able to do realistically after a c-section. is it true that I can't even pick up the baby. How long will it be before I'll be able to manage them both by myself without being in fear of stitches splitting etc etc. Any one got any recommendations for doulas, temporary help etc..

Thank you

kkgirl Sun 23-Feb-03 20:20:15


just to reassure you I had a c-section with my twins and although the day they were born (4am) I was drugged up and unable to move the next day I was moving in pain along the corridor.
I picked both of them up as my dh only had a few days, and I looked after 2 1/2 year old ds. You have to be careful, it is a major operation and your two year old may be your main problem depending on how lively, be careful she doesn't jump on you.
I was very independent rejected all offers of help with my ds as I didn't want him to feel left out, but if you can get some help please take it. My dh had to go away to work when the twins were 9 weeks and I really did struggle with it then.
Hope it goes ok and try not to worry

prufrock Sun 23-Feb-03 20:57:31

People react very differently to c-sections. I had a great experience overall - apart from being forced to get up at 6 am the day after and hobbling along the corridor to the loo bent almost double. Nobody actually told me I was meant to rest- I mean they said to take it easy, but I thought I was...
I got out of hospital after 5 days, first thing I did on getting hoem was to load the washing machine (The 1 domestic task that dh can't do)I was lifting the baby, shopping bags, reaching up get get pans down from high shelves, the works. I did get very physically tired quite quickly, in that exhausting way like you've run a marathon (not that I have) and would have to take lots of breaks to lie down. but TBH itwasn't as physically bad for me as the late stages of pregnancy had been.
But - if you can, get some help - having a baby and a toddler is exhausting enough without the c-section. And you could easily have a worse experience than mine - talking to friends I think I was lucky.

miriamw Sun 23-Feb-03 22:27:43

I had an emergency c/section with ds, but overall made a great recovery (helped in part by the fact that ds was taken to SCBU so I was trekking down there every 3 hours or so to feed him). I did have dh off work for a while though, and whilst I could lift the baby I did take things fairly easy. I was driving within 4 weeks with my doctor's agreement. I was certainly up and about before a couple of my friends who had vaginal deliveries with difficult episitomies.

I'm expecting again in May and am likely to have another c/section. Again my main concern is my ds who will be 2, and still used to being picked up on occasion. Also I'm worried about getting him in and out of the cot/car etc. So I'm probably going to make sure that I have someone around to help for the first 6 weeks to be on the safe side. Dh will have 2 weeks off, my mum will come over for a week, and at present I'm dithering between a doula or a temp nanny. I happen to know a doula locally, but I think that there is a doula UK website. I've also contacted a local nanny agency who seem confident that they will be able to find someone once I am more certain of my dates. Hope this helps.

Zoe Mon 24-Feb-03 08:47:22

I too had a good recovery - I took arnica all the way through the labour (ds was an emergency c-s) and I've always thought that that helped. I was in bed overnight on a catheter and morphine, which was fine (and judging by how much I wee'd into the catheter i think I would have been up all night going to the loo!!) and then the next day by lunchtime I was de-catheterised and then got a lovely shower (walked up the ward slowly to the bathroom) I made a conscious decision to try and get moving slowly and this seemed to help - one thing that was hard was getting up with ds in the night as I couldn't really bend in the middle! The four days in hospital helped me get used to it and after I got home I felt absolutely fine and drove (wiht my GP and insurance company permission) after four weeks. Good luck, and please try not to worry too much

hmb Mon 24-Feb-03 09:25:30

I was fine after both of mine. Dd was an emergency after a long labour, and that was harder than Ds who was elective. I was up with both of them the next day, and I was walking round better than some of the women who had 'complicated' natural deliveries. Dh had about 10 days off work, and I even managed to cope with my mother visiting for the better part of 10 days. Thinking about it that was harder than the pain of the section

PamT Mon 24-Feb-03 11:42:59

My hospital wanted you to be active asap after a c section so once my catheter had been removed the morning after the op, I was sent to the toilet on my own (early evening op under GA). I think it's ok to pick your baby up, but anything heavier might cause strain. I found that in the first couple of weeks I was ok if I kept moving but once I stopped I stiffened up and getting going again was hard work.

Heavy washing and shopping should be avoided along with the vacuum if at all possible. Older children shouldn't be carried but you don't want them to feel left out so maybe they can give you a cuddle whilst sitting down. My major problems were getting the pram in and out of the house - heaving it up two steps, and the fact that I couldn't drive for such a long time. I had a baby in special care, a 3 year old at home and I couldn't even drive to the hospital You need to check with your insurance company as to when you will be covered but most say 6 weeks after the op or until you get the ok from your doctor (again usually 6 weeks). Don't take any risks with the car - my aunt had a tummy tuck op and was involve in a minor bump but burst her scar.

I think once you are over the initial pain of the first few days you just have to be careful and listen to your body - if you can feel the muscles pulling then you are doing too much.

bundle Mon 24-Feb-03 11:53:37

I'd advise just to listen to your body and try not to overdo it. I walked to the hospital shop (probably for Jaffa cakes ) with dh which left me looking grey and feeling like crap for ages. you're fine to pick up baby, but may need help actually getting up from lying down in the bed. I was petrified when the midwives suggested ripping the sticky bandage off my scar the day after but they were right, it wasn't too bad. wearing the attractive anti-thrombosis stockings and moving around is really essential to recovery, but don't go mad. a physio should come round to your bed & give you some tips.
get some ready meals in the freezer or order takeaways so you don't have to do much around the house and if you don't already have a cleaner get one (this isn't just for c-section mums ) I carried dd in a sling which was fine for shops etc (she was 8lb 4oz at birth).

NQWWW Mon 24-Feb-03 12:22:26

The "stitches" are actually one long thread with a sort of "bead" at each end, so not the little delicate things you might be thinking of, and not likely to burst. I had excrutiating constipation for days after my delivery, which I wasn't expecting - hard to deal with without any help from stomach muscles.

I didn't find the c-section that easy to get over - after 5 days it still seemed like a major task to get from the hospital room to the car park to go home. But I think it really varies - a friend of mine claims to have felt back to normal within 3 days.

Re the horror stories about how long it takes to get over a c-section - having heard them, I wasn't surprised to find I was still in some pain and walking hunched up some weeks after the event. However, it turned out that the wound had got infected and was full of nasty stuff, and that I shouldn't have soldiered on - so don't put up with it if that happens to you, get help if you're not walking normally within a week of getting out of hospital.

I was in hospital for 5 days and then had 2 weeks of help from family members, which I really needed(having said that I missed having some time alone with my new family, and while I don't want to sound ungrateful, I found it a bind that my mother-in-law had to keep herself busy all the time - she was vacuuming twice a day while I sat trying to enjoy my baby without feeling guilty).

aloha Mon 24-Feb-03 14:03:26

Hi, I had a c-section and was, like everyone else, up the next day once de-cathetered, and walking to the loo, albeit bent double like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I had excellent pain relief in hospital but after three days was just on paracetamol. Went home on the fifth day (could have gone home earlier but had private room and wanted to get b/f established) and walked fairly slowly but painlessly to car park. I was so wonderful to be home and sleeping in my own bed! I picked up ds from day 1 - a little tricky to heave myself upright in bed - needed both hands and the electric bed raising mechanism - but it wasn't that problematic. By day three it was easy. When I got home I just did EVERYTHING as normal - up and down stairs, carrying ds (8lb8oz!) everwhere, cooking, watching daytime TV (!), and driving to my local Cafe Rouge for lunch within two weeks (the earliest I could contemplate leaving the house, really!) and it was completely fine. I reasoned that if it was OK to sit, it was OK to drive! There was absolutely nothing about it on my insurance. I think this 'can't drive for six weeks' is a bit of an urban myth. By two weeks I was back to normal (just fatter). I had the odd twinge from my scar for a couple of weeks but nothing serious. I too know people who had normal deliveries who were out of action for longer and had more stitches. I would get a cleaner though. Mainly because you won't have time to do anything! Everyone's recovery is different, but with your dh at home for 10 days and help from your mother and sister you will probably be fine. PS if you get constipated I found lactulose had a remarkably decongesting effect - I was given it as a precaution.
Good luck!

aloha Mon 24-Feb-03 14:05:25

NQWW is right - if you feel in pain after a week then you almost certainly have an infection and need antibiotics. I didn't get an infection and nor did anyone I know - and we all were free from any discomfort very quickly indeed. The horror stories are very often exaggerated IMO.

Crunchie Mon 24-Feb-03 16:51:23

2nd time around I had the section at 4pm and told them to take the catheter out by 10pm. I was out of bed as soon as I could feel my legs, although I did take morphine that night. The next day I picked up my 2 yr old, and hiked her onto my bed (not very wise). By the time I left hospital it was 4 days and I felt fine. I was drivng in 2 weeks and at teh gym in 5 weeks!! However I got an infecton in the wound so I did have a weeping hole for about 2 more weeks.

10 days of dh doing everything should be OK, but everyone copes differently, I just made sure I got extra sleep and let dh get up with the 2yr old, I stayed in bed until 10 am!! This way I also got a rest because I tried get a routine from day 1 of feeding 3 hrly. Took less than a week to work and gave me periods to relax a bit.

hmb Mon 24-Feb-03 16:54:55

Yes, thinking about it I was at the gym after my 6 week check-up. So the recovery couldn't have taken too long. I found it easier second time around as a. I knew what to expect and b. I hadn't had two days in labour before I had the section! But I prefered the epidural that I had first time to the spinal, which left me a little sick and woozy with low blood pressure.

emmaij Mon 24-Feb-03 18:25:50

reading your responses has been really reassuring. thanks everyone who took the time to reply.

hmb Mon 24-Feb-03 18:30:43

Oh, and if you are going to be in hospital for 4-5 days, get a private room, otherwise you will never get to sleep. Pay for it, beg for it, or cry a lot ( the latter worked for me).

sykes Tue 25-Feb-03 10:26:03

I've had two c sections and recovered v quickly both times - only two nights in hospital. Back at the gym and on my horse in three weeks but didn't lift elder daughter too much - she was two. Am a bit of keep fit addict and this really helped with a quick recovery. Would agree v different for everyone - my sister has had two and is incredibly fit but refused to walk for about two weeks. Also, don't forget you have stitches inside - I tended to forget that, not v bright. And ask for a nice scar. Mine's v nice. I only have one whereas my sister inlaw has three (three c sections) - rather odd/is that usual???

NQWWW Tue 25-Feb-03 11:33:17

Re driving - you're not supposed to use it until you would be able to do an emergency stop. Surprising that you need those muscles to do one, but try it now and you'll see.

anto Fri 28-Feb-03 19:29:31

I am having a c-section on 31 March. Can anyone recommend any vitamins, minerals or other homeopathic remedies (apart from arnica) that are supposed to speed post-operative healing? Is there anything extra I need for my hospital bag?

Lindy Fri 28-Feb-03 19:35:27

anto - as others have said, many of us heal very quickly after a CS & have absolutely no side effects - I certainly didn't. I was cooking lunch for guests the day after I got home (5 days in hospital) - & had no problems at all. I can't honestly think of anything more specific than the usual stuff for your hospital bag.

Good luck, let us know how you get on.

miriamw Fri 28-Feb-03 21:59:26

Anto, Not sure about vitamins, but I was on iron tablets after my c/s with ds1. Extras for the hospital bag: pen and paper - for making lists for dh to fetch extra stuff that you didn't think of, and also to fill in forms/menus etc; peppermint teabags - the anaesthetic does strange things to your digestive system; I got dh to bring in fresh fruit for the same reason; breast pump in case you need it - there were only 2 amongst 40 "inmates" at my hospital. Obviously you'll need 4/5 days worth of the usual stuff, but best to avoid winding up the midwives by getting this brought in gradually. I would also include a hairdryer unless you know that there is one available. A small supply of soft drinks or equivalent might be useful - I was just given a choice of tea/coffee or water.... Hmb's tip re getting a private room is invaluable - even in here it will be noisy, but much better than on the ward imho. Oh don't forget some sort of bag to collect soiled laundry in (yours and babys). Good luck with the birth!

PamT Fri 28-Feb-03 22:04:02

Anto, you're likely to spend 4 or 5 days in hospital and in that time you are likely to go through lots of sanitary towels and possibly lots of breastpads, neither of which are the sort of thing that husbands are keen to go shopping for. Get yourself some big comfortable knickers that won't have elastic over your scar (which if you don't already know is usually on the crease at the top of your pubic bone - just below the hairline), possibly a few pairs in case of leaks. You'll also need lots of change for the pay phone (unless they are on a card) and I found a small notebook and pen useful for making notes of all the things that I wanted dh to do/bring. Good luck.

ghengis Sat 01-Mar-03 00:21:55

Anto, best of luck! DS (10 yrs ago) was a nightmare but DD (2 years ago), both by c-section, was soooooo much easier. Definitely agree with peppermint tea-bags and a spare bag for soiled clothes. Otherwise, pack some gorgeous body shampoo/shower gel and perfume and wallow in your new state of motherhood. Don't o.d. on fruit or you could end up with a very unhappy, windy baby! Most of all, enjoy the experience and try to savour every moment!

anto Sat 01-Mar-03 09:10:30

Thanks so much for all your good wishes and support! This is baby no.2 after a nightmare birth with no.1 and I am determined to do it all 100% differently this time round! I booked the c-section yesterday and spent most of last night awake worrying about the op itself, developing dvt afterwards, etc etc. However, I know I've made the right choice.

In a more frivolous vein, I have already starting thinking about buying pampering body lotion and shower gel as well as some new pajamas. Meanwhile, poor baby will have to make do with her older sister's cast-offs!

When I look back on what I packed in my hospital bag last time, I laugh at myself. First of all I put in a book 'to read while in labour' - not even some really light chick-lit number either, but a literary prize winner that I thought would really grip me and take my mind off contractions (ha ha). Also, being very greedy, I packed loads of yummy muesli snack bars, cartons of drink, dextrose sweeties etc etc to keep my energy up as I did my natural birth bit. As it happened, the doctor wouldn't let me eat ANYTHING in case I had to have an emergency c-section and the whole day my dh was surrepticiously snacking away happily in the background - very annoying when I was allowed about 1 cup of tea and no biscuits.

I also bought these lovely Calvin Klein pajamas with trendy cropped legs to wear after the babe had arrived. But I had been given so many drugs in labour that the 2 days after dd arrived my legs and ankles swelled up enormously so I looked like elephant (wo)man and whenever I had guests I was too embarrassed to get out of bed and reveal my giant puffy legs and instead sat tight with legs firmly covered up!

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