Pregnant? Just delivered? It is possible you went through, or may have to go through, a cesarean section or c-section. Here's what you can expect after you've delivered, and a few tips to help you recover.
It's likely that you will experience a range of emotions. Many mothers feel let down that they didn't give birth the normal way. Especially if they prepared for a natural birth - the breathing exercises, Lamaze classes… A lot of time and effort was spent gearing up for a regular delivery, and all that was of no use. Such emotions are perfectly normal, but a healthier attitude would be to just feel grateful that you had a healthy baby and both of you are fine. A lot of mothers just feel grateful that everything went of smoothly, even if the c-section was unexpected.
Don't feel frustrated with the time taken to recover from a cesarean section. Many mothers wonder if it is normal to take this long, or whether something is wrong. Remember, a cesarean is a major surgery, and you will take time to recover. There is a lot that needs healing, so don't expect instant recovery. Mothers have been known to experience prickly sensations even a year later. It takes some time for the nerves to grow back.
You will have a bloody vaginal discharge, called lochia, for up to six weeks from the day of your c-section. However, menstrual type bleeding should not last more than a week to ten days. After that the blood gradually turns pink and then yellowish. This is the old blood left over from the delivery, and originates from where the placenta was attached to the uterine wall. If you continue to bleed heavily even two weeks after delivery, you should speak to your doctor. If your bleeding is very heavy and you have to change pads every hour, you should call your doctor immediately, as you may be hemorrhaging.
Breastfeeding the baby starts small contractions which helps stop the bleeding in the uterus.
It is normal to be constipated for at least a day or two after delivery, so don't worry. Soon your stomach will start to pain because of gas, and you will also pass gas. This is a sign that your bowels have started moving again. You will have to slowly start eating and drinking.
If there is one time you really need hired help, this is it. So if you can afford it, go for it. If not, speak to your parents, in-laws, friends and relatives to help you through. You're going to need rest, and lots of it.
It is possible that your lungs collect fluid. To get rid of this fluid, take deep breaths and try to cough at least once per hour.
It may not be easy to start moving around, and it will probably hurt when you get out of bed. It will even hurt when you cough! But remember, the more you move around, the better it is. By moving, you encourage blood circulation, and this in turn encourages healing. If you keep lying down with minimal movement, your blood is not getting any circulation and may clot, causing further unease and complications. So walk around, but don't tire yourself. Just move your hands around a bit and shuffle around the room at a slow, leisurely pace.
Even though you feel the pressure on your stitches when sneezing, laughing or coughing, you won't open your stitches.
Getting rid of that belly
The first thing's you'll want to do the minute you start feeling better, is to get rid of your belly. But don't rush into exercising it. You'll have to wait at least six weeks, and after that speak to your doctor to find out when you can start. Even then, your exercise routine will be very moderate for several months. Remember, it will take time before you're back to your fit self. And even if you want to reduce your tummy, you're going to have to do a lot more than just stomach crunches. There's no such thing as spot reduction. At the most, you will tone your tummy muscles which may reduce some of the fat, but the large bulk will only go through regular aerobic exercises like swimming, walking or jogging. However, don't start any exercise programme without consulting your doctor.
You'll have to wait for four to six weeks before you can resume sexual intercourse. Get the permission of your gynaecologist first!