My first delivery was 12 long hours of labor that ended in an emergency c-section. It was disappointing to say the least, mostly traumatic at best, and debilitating all around. Before delivering my first child, I had never even had an IV, and as a first-time mom, you better believe my birth plan didn’t include getting one. I laugh at the idea of a birth plan now, as whatever I plan with my kids goes exactly to their plan, as it should and never mine. Ha!
Seasoned mothers everywhere know that all of a mother’s plans rely wholeheartedly on the attitude and willingness of her children, childbirth included. The very idea of a cesarean was emotionally derailing for me, I felt undone and a sense of failure from my body not being able to perform one of the very acts I so looked forward to. At that time, becoming a mother started with delivery, and mentally, all I had prepared for was a vaginal delivery. I had no concept nor expectation of surgery, recovery from quite literally being cut in half, or how to mother for the first time with a newborn and recover from a new surgery (both of which I had never had before).
Two kids and two c-sections later, I have learned a few things I hope new and expectant mothers delivering via c-section can use in their recovery too.
Tip #1: Go to prenatal counseling. Delivery either vaginally or cesarean takes mental preparation, as it is an equally exhausting and exhilarating experience. It helps to have talked through some of the potential emotional highs and lows that come with childbirth beforehand. You usually work through the idea that you don’t get your before-baby body back, but you start to learn how you get your body back. This idea doesn’t become real until after you actually deliver for the first time.
Tip #2: Rest, accept help, and take it slow. All of this sounds counterintuitive to having a newborn, but with a c-section, you must remember you just had major abdominal surgery. Actually, sleep when the baby sleeps so your body can heal. Accept help from family members and loved ones who can take on the baby duties that might stretch you too far. If you have an older child, this is a great time for them to get quality time with family and friends while you recover. These relationships can be strengthened for your older kids and close family members during this time. You’re giving them sweet memories being made while also caring for yourself.
Tip #3: Go see the Scar Lady, Dr. Jen. She is a physical therapist who specializes in scar recovery. Working with her helped me work through the mental trauma and physical limitations of my c-sections. Her work validated my trauma and allowed me to release it, she worked with my body to teach it to heal even better, and my scar improved drastically in mobility and appearance.