After childbirth, many mums neglect their mental and physical health as suddenly, it is only about the baby. Postnatal care is equally important, as it can speed up a mum’s recovery and ease her faster into motherhood. If you’ve had a cesarean delivery, then healing becomes even more challenging as, after all, a C-section is a major operation.
Why is a C section delivery suggested?
An obstetrician might recommend a C section to an expecting woman if:
- The expecting woman is carrying twins or multiples
- The mum-to-be is suffering from pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes or other health issues
- The baby has not descended into the birth canal
- The baby goes into distress
- The baby’s head is too large
- The mum-to-be does not go into labour
There could be other reasons that call for a Cesarean section, and the doctor might suggest it depends on several factors.
What happens during and after a cesarean delivery?
During a C-section, local anesthesia is given to the mum-to-be and an incision is made in the belly and uterus and the baby is delivered through it. The mother is awake throughout the operation. Some mums might feel nauseated after the process. This could be due to the effects of the anesthesia. Painkillers and antibiotics are given to ease the pain and keep the mother safe from infections. Breastfeeding can begin soon after the baby is born.
The new mum will be monitored for at least 24 hours to see how she responds to the surgery. In addition, she will be asked to take fluids followed by light and nutritious diet about 6 to 8 hours after delivery.
Walking can commence 24 hours after a cesarean delivery. The stitches might hurt and walking might be difficult, but in a few days, this pain should settle down. Just like after a normal delivery, vaginal bleeding begins and continues for up to several weeks after delivery.
Precautions to take after Cesarean section delivery
A C-section delivery is a surgery and a new mother needs to take some precautions to help heal faster. Here’s a guide:
Care in the hospital after the birth
- Avoid trying to walk or move fast as this might cause dizziness
- Inform the doctor if you feel excessively dizzy or feel breathless
- Exercise caution while sitting down to urinate as too much strain on the stitches might cause a sharp pain
- Take only the prescribed dosage of painkillers and antibiotics as taking an extra dose might affect the quality of breastmilk
- Start taking short walks after your doctor says it’s ok, to enable movement and relieve gas
Care once you go home
Adequate rest is important to recover fast after a c section delivery
Have a lot of fluids to keep yourself hydrated and also to facilitate breast milk production
Do not lift heavy objects
Keep the area of the scar clean and continue to apply healing ointments that your doctor has prescribed
Your doctor might call you to open up the stitches and check the health of the scar
If you notice a swelling or discharge from the wound or have a fever or unbearable abdominal pain, notify your doctor immediately as the scar may have been infected
Precautions on activity levels after a C-section
After a cesarean section, a mum has to get back to being active slowly and gradually. The more rest she takes, the quicker and better she will heal
- As mentioned earlier, do not lift heavy objects
- Do not suddenly lift things with a jerk when standing
- Walk a little every day. Increase the duration of the walk with each day but do not overstrain
- Do not do anything that strains the belly area, like vigorous exercise, push ups or sit ups. This should be avoided for at least 8 weeks
- Hold a heavy, folded towel or a cushion over the incision area during sneezing or coughing
Food and nutrition after a C-section
Nutritional requirements for a mother after childbirth do not vary much between a normal delivery and a C-section birth. The diet must be rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy carbs and fibre, along with fluids.
- Plenty of seasonal fruits such as oranges, watermelons, mangoes, papaya, apples, bananas etc are recommended as they are mineral rich, vitamin C rich and can ease constipation
- Vegetables such as carrots, beans, spinach, peas, broccoli, dill, beetroot etc. are powerhouses of essential vitamins and also provide roughage. Fenugreek leaves or methi increases milk supply too.
- Lentils and pulses are also recommended for protein along with dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and paneer.
- Soups, smoothies, coconut water, and broths are great ways to increase fluid intake
- Whole grain foods such as brown rice, whole wheat, and ragi are rich in B vitamins, iron, carbohydrates and calcium
- Dried fruits, nuts, and seeds are essential for good fat intake and building up energy reserves during the early days of motherhood
- Do not go overboard with oil, butter or ghee as this makes the food difficult to digest and increases weight gain
Emotional health after a C-section
Taking care of a new mother’s mental health is as important as her physical well-being. Women often neglect their emotional health after childbirth which could lead to depression.
- Some women might feel let down that they couldn’t deliver normally. Family support plays a big role here. Assuring them that they did their best and that a C-section should not make them feel lesser is an important point to make
- For many women, postnatal blues are common whether the delivery was normal or via Cesarean. Constant reassurance, motivation, and support are required to make a mother confident about taking on this new role.
- If the feelings of depression do not disappear by two-three weeks, then professional help might be required.
Postnatal care is as important as taking good care of the newborn. Only if a mother is healthy and happy can she nurture her child with her heart, body, mind, and soul. Whether it is a C-section or normal delivery, a mother should be felt loved, nurtured and cared for as well.