Recovery after birth is really important and I feel mothers sometimes feel a little bit neglected, overwhelmed and that they don’t have time to look after themselves. When all the adrenaline is out of the system you’re often left feeling all the hormones, increased so when your milk comes in and I feel if you’ve had a bit a traumatic experience during birth, a bit of guilt too. The phrase ‘to mother the mother’ often used by postnatal doula’s could not be more accurate to what a mother needs.
I can not dismiss that after birth recovery is vital and important, however, I only have experience of recovering from a c-section delivery and therefore that is where my ‘expertise’ lie. I’ve had two sections, neither were planned and one was a lot more complicated than the other. I want to talk about some of the ways you can best assist your recovery after a c-section birth.
If you know you’re going to have a c-section then a lot of these things can be prepared ahead of time, but if you are planning a vaginal birth but end up being induced, or having an unplanned or emergency (rare) c-section then some of these things might not have been considered so I’ll try and think of both scenarios for this post.
Time Off Together
2 weeks is not enough post c-section, try for 4 weeks with annual leave, or even better extend to six weeks with (unpaid) parental leave.
Encourage the dad or your patner to take some time off work. I strongly advise considering an extended amount of time off if this is possible. The first thing you want to look into is paternity leave which does have some stipulations and can either be one or two weeks. This can start from a selected date or the day you give birth and needs to be, I believe, within 52 days of the birth. Then I would really look into taking a week or two annual leave after the paternity leave. Having a period of four weeks off to adapt to your new baby will take a lot of the pressure off mum to bounce back after having major abdominal surgery. It’s also really important for dad/the other parent to find their feet and place too without the pressure of getting back to work quickly.
It is also worth looking into parental leave. It is unpaid but government backed therefore you can not be penalised for taking this time off. Parents are entitled to 18 weeks parental leave for each child (including adopted children) and you can take 4 weeks leave per child, per year. You must take it in week blocks and usually have to give around a month’s notice. It is unpaid so it is worth considering this if your funds are stretched or saving up during pregnancy to cover the amount of time off.
Adam only actually ended up getting around 10 days off work because I was in hospital from Thursday – Sunday. He was starting a new job and University so the pressure to ‘bounce back’ was well and truly on me and it caused some severe anxiety attacks which really affected my self confidence and recovery. You can’t drive straight after a c-section, you’re barely sleeping and you’re adjusting to a newborn. If you have other children, like I did, I couldn’t even manage the school run once in a day and needed the next day to recover let alone doing it twice in a day. If Adam had had that extra time off work, I probably would have recovered faster because I wouldn’t have been so stressed.
If you can’t take additional time off or unpaid parental leave
- Ask other family/friends for help with other children, school pick ups or looking after for an hour or two.
- If someone comes over ask them for help if you need something done or ask them to bring you food.
- Get a slow cooker and add lots of one handed, nutritious and filling snacks to your grocery shopping – and do it online to make it easier
- Do not feel you have to leave the house, ask friends and family to come to you.
- Consider hiring a cleaner in the late stages of pregnancy so they can help in those early newborn days.
- Just focus on you and baby. Your partner can deal with the housework before and after work and put a dinner in the slow cooker whilst you recover.
Consider some hired help – this can come in many forms
Hiring some help whilst you recover from a c-section is a priveledged thing to do and not everyone will have the chance to but if you can spare the cash then it can do your recovery wonders. Hiring a cleaner just to take care of some of the bigger jobs can really make a difference to keeping the home together whilst you focus on you and baby.
You could look into a postnatal doula who are there to mother the mother. They are the advocates for postnatal self care. The postnatal fairy godmother if you will. Postnatal doula’s are self employed individuals and offer a variety of different options to help your recovery. They are experts in this field. They will be there to help look after baby so you can get that shower, some can help with baby wearing and breastfeeding. Many will offer to bring a homecooked meal and some offer to do some light cleaning to take a load off. They are also amazing emotional support and a fountain of knowledge. A postnatal doula will be a pro at helping a mother recover from a c-section.
Recovery after a c-section usually takes around 6 weeks for the outer stitching to heal and 12 weeks for the inner stitching to heal. It is a long process. The most important thing is looking after you and your baby. The general advice is not to lift anything heavier than your baby and as your baby grows and gains, as will your strength. You do not owe it to anyone to bounce back.