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These Important Tips Eased My Anxiety When I Was Preparing For A C-Section

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If you are expecting a cute little bundle of joy (which I assume you are since you landed here), Congrats! Now whether you are unsure about the way your baby will enter this world or you have a pretty good idea, the important this is to TRY and be prepared. I’ve come to terms with the fact that you can’t be 100% prepared because their are so many variables that could change the course of your birth plan.

I would consider myself a perfectionist and at times I admit, I am OVER prepared for a lot of situations. I NEVER thought an unplanned C-section was my fate. To my surprise, my baby was in the breech position at 42 weeks and after several interventions, we KNEW she wasn’t budging.

What I can tell you is, no amount of planning will fully ease your uncertainty for labour and delivery. Here is a list I created of some things that I wish someone would have told me BEFORE my unplanned C-Section.

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1. I Couldn’t Throw My Maternity Pants Out Yet

After having a baby the year before, naturally and pretty much smoothly, I thought the appearance of my belly would be similar after delivery. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After the C-section with my second, I still looked like I was 6 months pregnant. That was after the baby was out!

The bad news was, I was still wearing maternity pants a month or two later. The good news was the post C-section belly eventually went down. With some proper nutrition and light walking, I could fit into my regular clothes. Knowing the possibility of this happening allowed me to mentally prepare for the not so big change in my belly.

Just to give you a belly visual, below is a comparison of the day before I went in for my c-section at 42 weeks and the day after my C-section.

2. Sneezing Gave Me Anxiety

You never really look at something like freely sneezing as something you would take for granted. After major abdominal surgery, my midwife told me that sneezing was something that could blow your incision right open- IF you didn’t brace yourself. The first time I felt that tingly sensation coming on after my C-section, thankfully I knew exactly what to do.

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The first thing that really helped me was wearing a belly band. I had read about them before but I took the plunge and bought one so I had it ready for my recovery. It gave me: more security in my midsection, stability in my core when I had to bend down and it helped my insides quickly get back in order. I personally really liked the BellyBandit recovery belts but you can still find some more budget friendly options on Amazon like this one. I will let you in on a secret, the cheaper one works the same, if not better! Secondly, knowing when to brace my incision site with a hand or pillow made a huge difference. The most important thing is to really be mindful of your fresh wound. And always be ready to support the area if you need to cough, sneeze, bend over, anything that will increase pressure to your lower abdominal section.

3. I Couldn’t Climb Any Stairs

Upon returning home from the hospital, my midwife visited often to check the baby and I. That first day back she told me not to move from my main floor- stairs were a No-No. This information I was not prepared for. My 14 month old’s nursery was upstairs and she needed to sleep there! I didn’t want to throw her schedule off. Luckily, I was fortune to have the best next door neighbour a girl could ask for. Whenever I needed to put my oldest baby to sleep or get her up, my neighbour would come over to help. Arranging for someone to help care for other children will immensely benefit you!

Being an overachiever, I admit I did use the stairs a few times when I shouldn’t have. Worrying about asking for help is something a new mom should not do, I get that it is really hard to ask for help sometimes, but do yourself a favor-just ask! As your mommy journey moves forward, you won’t be as shy to ask for help and your mental health will really thank you. Asking for help or even taking the help when it is offered is a hurdle that moms need to get over. Believe me, it’s for your own good!

4. Pain Management Was Very Well Needed

This piece of advice is pretty straight forward. Although our family tries everything in our power to have a nontoxic home and we are very conscious what we put in our bodies, this was a pivotal time frame for me. I don’t take pharmaceutical drugs unless it is very necessary and I work with my homeopathic and natropathic doctors to find alternative solutions first. I even refused all conventional pain relief with my first baby. Having a c-section opened a whole new can of worms for me and pushed me to my limits.

In other words, I would have another baby all natural with no pain medication AGAIN if it meant I could get out of having another c-section. That was my personal experience. Everyone is different and responds differently to surgery but, having a c-section was brutal and took much longer to bounce back for me. On the other hand, I also have had friends bounce back quickly from their sections with no issues.

Either way, the point here was I caved and I needed to take pain meds to get through the immense uterine cramping, breastfeeding was causing, the pain at the incision site, and also the internal dull ache that would radiate from my recently sliced up ab muscles.

5. The Incision Could Turn Into A Keloid Scar

The Toronto Dermatology Centre‘s expert doctors, describe a keloid scar as an abnormal wound healing response that occurs after injury (e.g. car accident, surgery, immunization, ear piercing) or inflammation (e.g. acne). They are benign thickenings of dense connective tissue, typically reddish (though sometimes a little brown or even flesh-coloured) and firm to hard. Keloids, unlike “hypertophic scars” typically extend beyond the borders of the original wound, and they do not disappear on their own. Keloid scars can also be itchy or painful and disrupt day-to-day activities.

At about 4 weeks, I knew something was off with my incision site. It was raised, really itchy, red and growing in size. After visiting my OB, I found out that I had a developing keloid scar on my hands. The doctor told me there was nothing much I could do besides surgery to remove it. The risk of that was that there was a very high likelihood of the keloid returning. I felt defeated, if I wore tight pants you could see this raised bump where my C-section incision was! How would I ever where a bikini again?

I went home and got a few more opinions from other health professionals who gave me alternatives such as, shots to reduce the size, topical ointments and so on. These were just band-aids of course. Then I started to research treatment for keloids, and that’s when I found a magic product! These Silicone Scar Sheets, found on Amazon were the answer that I had been looking for. They are nontoxic, safe for breastfeeding moms, super easy to use and relatively inexpensive. I am not joking this stuff worked and completely got rid of my embarrassing scar in a few months!

6. Emotions Can Came In Extreme Waves

There is no doubt about it, having a baby is a HUGE deal. Your amazing body just helped a beautiful little human come into this world. Although our bodies were designed to do this, it can sometimes put our mental health in a state of shock. It is totally normal to have intense emotions as your hormones regulate back to their normal levels. It can take some time for your mind to process such a big change.

Women are amazing because after we go through this enormous physical change, we have to then care for a new life as we are trying to care for ourselves. Sometimes, women don’t have help to navigate up this monumental mountain. Women are powerful super-humans and we always find a way to get through life’s challenges. My advice is to not tackle it alone, open up to those who support you and speak about your feelings- A lot!

Postpartum anxiety was something new to me. Until I spoke to a professional, I had no clue that was the reason for my why my roller-coaster of emotions. It can be devastating to plan an all natural birth and then to have your plan completely go upside down. Some moms have other kids to also tend to as they take care of their newborn and that can be very challenging. Use the help around you, try and practice self care too! Here’s a list of EASY SELF-CARE tips you can squeeze into your new and hectic schedule.

7. No Heavy Lifting

Another issue I came to realize I needed to prepare for was the fact that I couldn’t lift anything heavier than my newborn. This means, no lifting other children. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to give my other baby enough attention. How would I lift her into the car if we needed to go to an appointment? These questions may be simple to answer while sitting her reading them but perhaps not so easy when you are mentally healing days after your C-section.

This is the good news, you can plan out creative solutions and different strategies before your baby comes. My solutions included:

  • Playing more on the floor
  • Teaching my oldest to walk up the stairs with a small amount of assistance
  • Getting a learning tower (so she could get to the sink safely without needing me to lift her)

These were all things that made my life easier. Planning what problems you may run into and addressing them before your new baby comes, will help with eliminating stress. This is huge because ANYTHING to make your life after your C-section easier, is something you are going to want to do. Your mind is already a ball of emotions so when you have a plan this will eliminate additional emotions that would come with lack of readiness.

8. No Driving

Another thing I didn’t know but found out at 39 weeks, was that I couldn’t drive after my surgery. The reason for this is that when you are recovering from surgery, your pain meds could hinder your driving abilities. Another concern is if you need to slam on the breaks, this uses core muscles and your core has freshly been cut, therefore this could really hurt you. In addition, the seat-belt could rub your incision site and ultimately open up the wound.

The silver-lining here was that I could set up rides beforehand. I could plan for someone to watch my other child, in the event that I needed to leave. The insurance in some places also won’t cover you if you are driving before your 6 week postpartum period is up. In most cases, the time can vary depending on clearance from your doctor. In my particular case, I had to wait 8 weeks due to complications.

9. My Sleeping Positions Were STILL Limited

On top of being limited in many other ways, my sleep was again compromised. Sleeping on my belly is definitely my thing. I couldn’t really do that the last few years due to pregnancies and C-section recovery. Sleeping directly on my stomach, was another thing that wasn’t advised by the medical professionals in my circle of care. I was really looking forward to just diving on my bed, belly down after a few weeks of recovery, but that was not going to happen for the time being.

It wasn’t until 8 weeks later that I could comfortably go back to finally being a an avid stomach-sleeper! As doubtful as this recovery process may get, just remember everything in life is temporary, nothing lasts forever. That’s the mind set that helped me get through my postpartum recovery.

10. Complications Were A REAL Possibility

With all the careful meticulous attention I gave to my incision site, sometimes you can’t fight fate. My C-section very well became infected. I had developed a hematoma from the trauma during surgery and had some superficial cellulitis. This prolonged my recovery which is definitely NOT what I wanted!

Medical News Today states:

Infections following a cesarean delivery, which some people call a C-section, are common. They occur in around 2–15 percent of all C-section surgeries. The wound coming into contact with bacteria or other harmful microbes is a common cause of these infections.

Sometimes, no matter what you do, these things can just happen. Don’t be discouraged, your doctor will be there to help you get better. That’s what they are there for anyways!

11. You Have To Be Alone While The Epidural Is Administered

There was speculation around this point for a while for me. To be honest, although spending over a decade working in hospitals, needles are NOT my thing. So naturally, I was terrified whenever I pictured the anaesthesiologist jabbing a giant needle into my spinal fluid.

Unfortunately, the bad news was, my husband was unable to be in the OR for this procedure. I sucked it up and with the support of my midwife and a very reassuring nurse, I got through it. And you will too- If that is your fate! This was honestly the worst part of the whole birthing experience, besides the attempt to do an external cephalic rotation prior to the emergency C-section.

If you didn’t know that little fact, well now you know! If something like that does’t bother you than you are WAY stronger than me. In the end, the goal here is to be as prepared as you can be mentally and physically, for all possibilities.

12. Your New Baby Could Benefit From A Probiotic

Another interesting piece of information I learned, was the fact that c-section babies aren’t subjected to the natural flora and immunity boosting probiotic properties within the vaginal canal. An article from ScienceLine states the following:

So far, the researches say, results look promising for C-section babies. They found the C-section babies who didn’t receive probiotics had much lower proportions of beneficial bacteria than vaginally born babies. Probiotics corrected this difference, but only in babies who were also breastfed. This caveat may have to do with the fact that breast milk contains important food for bacteria, called prebiotics, while most formula does not.

Once I found this out, I was very happy to know that my baby was getting the equivalent amount of immune fighting probiotics as her older sister did, who was delivered through the birth canal! Mary Ruth’s Organics is my go-to for vitamins and probiotics for my kids. Use this link to access their site and get a coupon code!

14. You Are Going To Be Backed-Up (TMI Alert!)

After any type of surgery the possibility of constipation is a real thing. Whatever the cause may be, electrolyte imbalance, pain medications, anaesthesia, etc., there is always a fix. My saving grace was, actually something I was already taking everyday throughout both my pregnancies- Organic flax seed oil.

The first time I was backed up in my first trimester with baby #1, I never wanted to go through that again, and like I mentioned before, finding a natural solution to health concerns is always my first line of defence. After starting to take flaxseed, I significantly found that my digestive system was finally working optimally. I can now say that never had another issue with constipation. Woohoo!

15. PFP Was Essential for Recovery

Finally, one of the most useful tools that was required in the recovery process, even a year later, was PFP. What does PFP stand for? Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy! After having two babies, literally back to back, I could not jump, workout, laugh or couch without involuntarily releasing urine. It was a REAL BIG problem. Although, as mentioned before, every woman is different and you may not have this problem.

Yes- Sure I did my Kegels before and after pregnancy but I did’t realize I wasn’t doing them correctly. Once I started regularly seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist, she could tell me exactly which pelvic floor muscles were lagging and how to improve muscle tone in those specific areas. It was a GAME-CHANGER, I would really recommend consulting in a PFP to help after labour and delivery. You won’t regret it.

To Sum it All Up…

Now you are equipped with some helpful tools to make your preparation for your C-section a lot easier. I wish I knew all these key points prior to encountering these issues and frantically searching for ways to fix them.

What was your most helpful tip before having your C-section?? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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