Last month we talked about c-section scaring and the month before that I introduced myself and explained that I was going to be writing a 5 part series (one post a month) on the topic of cesarean recovery. Below is part 2 of 5, enjoy!
You had a baby..and surgery.
Most c-section moms do not see themselves as having had surgery, they had a baby. They have sleepless nights with baby, they nurse or warm milk in the wee hours, they often chase around other kids, do laundry, entertain the mother-in –law, just like any mom. They do it holding their pants off their belly or hiding granny panties, they may be itchy from healing, a little stiff getting out of bed in the morning and swollen at days end. Feeling pretty good, but just dealing with it. That is what makes them “Mom”.
If you had your appendix out or a knee surgery, you wouldn’t wonder why a month or two or even three later you still felt sore sometimes. But c-moms do forget they had surgery and often do feel like they should be “back to normal” probably because they didn’t “have surgery,” they “had a baby”.
There are plenty of times you will not even remember you had a c-section, but for those moments where you do remember you had surgery, give yourself a break and note the stages of recovery, which may go on longer than you knew.
Week 1: Inflammatory Stage: Cellular “workers” rush into the area to begin recovery. You know you had surgery this week!
Up to week 12: (Yes, week 12, that’s 3 months!) Proliferative Stage: The cellular “rebuilders” are extremely busy. New collagen and capillaries form. Low grade swelling is often present. You really feel your recovery progressing and can do a lot but have times/days you may need to take it easy. You may feel sore anywhere from your incision up to your mid abdomen where tissues were handled during surgery (you did know they usually take your whole uterus out, didn’t you?!), your underwear or pants might irritate your midsection and you still may feel sensitive around the incision area. These are all normal symptoms, but remember to see your doctor if any of them worsen.
Mild abdominal and incisional support, rest and scar management can continue to help during this period.
Up to 1 year: Remodeling Stage: Finish carpenters are tidying up. Collagen has reformed and scars are maturing. Common complaints are periodic itching , occasional soreness at the incision or a feeling of weakness at the incision after active days. These days you feel better and better and many moms report recovery leaps at 3 and 6 months. Heavy scars may continue to be symptomatic during this stage, but most are lessening rapidly in appearance.
We don’t want to encourage complaining about your c-section (who’d listen anyway?!), but we do want to encourage patience with and respect for your recovery if you do have symptoms. And for you repeat c-moms, don’t compare your recoveries baby to baby. Each can be very different. (My first I practically ran out of the hospital 3 days later, the second I crawled out on day 5). Rest, use incisional and abdominal support and don’t wonder why you feel a little beat up. Knowledge is power and even for a do-it-all mom, a sore night just means give yourself a little break, you had a baby…and surgery.
Catherine Brooks OTR, MPH
M. Meunier MD,
C-Panty CEO and Consultant: 18 years of experience in post-surgical rehabilitation in New York City and San Diego and five even more challenging and exciting years of experience as a mom of a three. (All by cesarean, of course!)
“Recover in Comfort” series will address all those things you ever ( or never!) ever wanted to know about c-section delivery.