COPING WITH A C-SECTION: BOUNCNG BACK
Recovering from a C-section has lotsa layers. Like, you’ve got to take baby steps. Especially if you weren’t planning for or expecting a cesarean at all. Then you’ve gotta really take some time and let your mind recover before you can even think about your physical recovery. Give yourself so much grace, Mama. You built a human. A perfect, wonderfully designed, extraordinary little being. In order to do that, your body gave absolutely every part of itself, and then some. I know it’s hard, we all want to bounce back immediately. There are a few things that I did that helped me feel like myself again that I would recommend to every Mama.
After I gave birth it was a bit humbling to see how swollen my belly still was. Sure, you know that everyone tells you to be prepared. But you’re not. I mean, you think that it’ll deflate SOME by the time you are able to look in the mirror. Um, no. Not really. And I even had that reveal prolonged since I was bedridden for a bit after the C-section. Since I didn’t expect a cesearean I ended up purchasing the original Belly Bandit, I know there are several more tailored to a C-section recovery but I don’t have any experience with those. In the hospital I asked my nurse right away if I could put on my Belly Bandit. I explained to her that it’s just like an abdominal binder (they use those in the hospital all the time with the surgical patients) she said she didn’t see why not. So within 8 hours of giving birth I had my Belly Bandit secured around my waist. It helped me so much just to feel secure and to put a gentle pressure on my incision. With it on, I was able to sit up much easier and it definitely supported my healing.
The best way to reduce bloating and swelling? Increase your water intake. Seriously. It seems counter productive, but it totally works. All of the cells in your body are composed predominately of water. In order for you to recover, heal and bounce back you NEED water. I know that people harp on hydration while you’re pregnant, but I’d argue that it’s even MORE important postpartum. Especially if you decide to exclusively breastfeed.
Oats for Breaky
Oatmeal is a great recovery food. It is one of the best ways to stabilize your insulin levels in the morning. It’s an easy complex carb to eat to give your body the fuel it needs to heal. Bonus: it increases milk supply. I used oats in everything from my smoothies to cookies and everything in between. If you’re not a huge oatmeal fan, try dressing it up with dried fruits, nut butters, adding egg whites or for a savory option adding some cheese and salt. Just remember you need to eat in order to recovery – this isn’t the time to start dieting.
This one goes without saying really, but it’s not something that is your first priority after bringing home your baby. But it’s actually easier to do than you would think. Especially if you have a baby who loves to be rocked, bounced or swayed to sleep – just stay on your feet. Walk that baby around the house while you’re ssshhh’ing and bouncing. After I started to feel a little bit better I started doing squats and calf raises while I was holding her. They’re literally the best trainers out there – because once they get use to you walking around or squatting or bouncing up on your calves, they demand it. Seriously. There were a couple weeks where Tess would not sleep unless I was squatting. It’ll wear you out, but you’ll get back in shape pretty quick!
Try to incorporate protein at every single meal and snack. This is something that is easier if you have lots of things on hand – stock up your fridge before you go to the hospital! If you don’t get the chance, ask you’re your mom, mother-in-law, sister – whoever! – to get over there and get you some snacks before you make it home. You’ll want easy things to munch on that only take one hand. Think nuts, cheeses, chunked up chicken, steak or pork, hardboiled eggs, greek yogurt, kefir or a protein shake. Those are all things that you could eat while carrying your infant, because honestly, if you’re like me, that baby isn’t getting set down for a whiiiiiile.
If you are able and willing, I would highly recommend breastfeeding. While I have heard plenty of women spout off about how natural and fulfilling EBF’ing their babies was, that wasn’t the case for me. You can read more about that here. But, it was SO WROTH IT. If you consider the time I spent bonding with and totally consumed with Tess, along with the nutritional benefits of mama’s breast milk, combined with the fact that breastfeeding little liquefies your fat stores – breastfeeding is the way to go. I mean seriously. Liquefies your fat. How much better can it get?
Frankincense + Copaiba + Coconut Oil
In order to help my skin heal, I was searching for what would be the best, gentlest and most natural approach. Like I mentioned in my Pregnancy Survival Guide I used essential oils throughout my pregnancy and on into postpartum. Frankincense is one of the oldest cosmetics ever recorded. I mean, Jesus’ parents were presented with a gift of Frankincense upon his birth. It’s known for its ability to fade pockmarks, acne scarring and even stretch marks and surgical scars. Copaiba is a great oil for fading the looking of stretch marks also – when combined with Frankincense and coconut oil these oils work to fade your scars and nourish and hydrate your skin. These have definitely helped to soothe my scar and help promote healing.
When you’re doing all your research for postpartum recovery, you see all these things about just buying cheap underwear that you can basically ruin and throw away. Now, I understand that…if you deliver vaginally. But when you have an unplanned C-section you need to adjust that thought process. Now, I would still recommend the enormous postpartum pads, but your scar will be super tender and you need to think about where those underwear are going to sit on your abdomen. My scar was so sore, but the absolute best thing was wearing wide-banded underwear. That way you didn’t end up with any seam placing too much pressure on that area. I tried a few stretchy, high-wasted pairs but they would just fall right into the groove my scar created and it was super uncomfortable. I wore these, these and (splurge) these for several months. Honestly the Calvin Kleins are still the ones I wear to bed – SO SOFT! Also – if you’ve got time, just check around they pop up at Tj Maxx all the time. They are amazing.
DO NOT Compare Yourself to Other Mamas
It’s so easy to do. Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook…they’re all filled with other women who are on their own journey. But just remember that God designed each of us individually – no two women are the same. Even my OB spent time reminding me that no two pregnancies are the same! After having Tess I really understood that – there are so many things that are blanket terms/advice/treatments that cover a majority of pregnancies and women, but they will not work for everyone. The same goes for postpartum care and recovery. You’ve got to figure out what works for YOU. Like I mentioned before, give yourself grace. Creating a human being is an amazing accomplishment; take time to marvel and be proud of that. You’re pretty amazing, mama.