Get up and move around as soon as possible. This will help you in a couple different ways—one by preventing blood clots from forming in your legs, and two by helping get your bowels moving. After surgery, being laid up in bed increases your risk of blood clots forming, causing serious issues if they block a vein or artery. Getting up once or twice a day and walking to the bathroom helps your circulatory system keep everything moving. Similarly, walking around will help stimulate your digestive system, which can be very sluggish following surgery. And with everything else going on, you definitely don’t want the discomfort of gas and constipation too!
Stay on top of the pain. Easier said than done, it turns out. Many women feel like they need to be super heroes here, or just muddle through. DO NOT! If your medications aren’t strong enough, or you’re feeling discomfort, let your nurse or doctor know right away. Once the pain breaks through, it can be really hard to get it managed. If you are breastfeeding, they won’t give you medication that will hurt the baby. In fact, it’s better for your breastfeeding efforts if you are pain-free and relaxed.
Get advice while you have the opportunity. The nurses can be great sources of information on baby care, self care, breastfeeding, warning signs, and more. And if you hospital offers a lactation consultant, take advantage! The sooner you get help with breastfeeding issues, the easier they are to resolve.
Rest, rest, rest! It is so tempting to try to get back into the swing of things as soon as you walk in the door. If you have other kids at home, they will definitely want some mom time with you—while you try to juggle baby and your own recovery. Well, not only have you just had a baby, but you’ve also had a major surgery, so you’re going to have to adjust your expectations accordingly. Your house may end up looking like a war zone, and maybe you’ll end up ordering in more than usual, but it will pay off. The more rest you get, the sooner you’ll heal. That being said…
Ask for help. Try to get a good support system into place before you go to the hospital. Shore up some favors from friends, freeze some meals, and get some help for your other kids if you have them. If this is a second or third pregnancy, maybe instead of gifts have your friends pitch in for a maid service or a postpartum doula. When people offer, get used to saying YES! This will help you so much with #1.
Give yourself a break. We can be our biggest critics. What you have done is a miracle, no matter how many times it’s happened before. If you weren’t planning on a C-section, you can have lots of different feeling about the birth. Take the time to acknowledge those feelings and then let it go. Being a new mom is tough—there are so many ups and downs and hormones! Get lots of support and get better about saying YES to help and NO to extra obligations. You’re going to be great!