POSTPARTUM PLANNING & RECOVERY

POSTPARTUM PLANNING & RECOVERY

Usually the excitement and anxiety from one’s birth plan causes any postpartum planning to be overlooked - but for many new parents this is the time that planning can be most helpful. This time is known as the fourth trimester, once baby arrives and the first few months following. And remember, this is a plan. It is not a requirement that everything goes as planned, just that you've thought about your options ahead of time, and tried to set up your first few months with baby to be as smooth sailing as possible. Physical and emotional recovery, and taking care of yourself, but also how to care for baby!

SPACE

Is the house ready? This means something different for each family, but often includes things like tidying up, doing that one last load of laundry, setting up a space for you and baby, and overall making sure your home is clean, and a space you want to be in, when you have baby/come home with baby.

POSTPARTUM CARE KIT
 

  • Maternity pads

  • High Waisted Underwear (Mesh Underwear from the hospital)

  • Nipple Cream (Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Cream)

  • Nursing Bra (Have a few different sizes, without underwire, we recommend Boob design's clipless ones)

  • Nursing Pads (Bamboobies reusable pads are much more absorbent)

  • Nursing Clothes (You'll mostly be topless for the first few weeks but get button down shirts and outfits you can easily nurse in, preferably dresses. For c-section avoid pants if you can, especially tight waistbands. Continue wearing maternity clothes!)

  • Lidocaine or dermoplast Spray

  • Tucks Pads

  • Stool Softener (often given to you by your care provider)

  • Manual breast pump (We recommend the Haakaa)

  • For cold weather: Maternity Coat Extender, stroller gloves


General

  • Belly wrap

  • Stool softener

  • Advil / Tylenol

  • Coconut oil

Breastfeeding

  • warm compress

  • cabbage leaves for engorgement

  • Earth Mama Angel Baby butter & herbs

  • Epsom Salt water wash for sore nipples

  • Nursing bra & clothes

  • KellyMom.com

  • On Demand Lactation Support

ESSENTIALS FOR BABY
 

  • A place for baby to sleep (co-sleep / bassinet)

  • Cloth Diapers (If you're planning to cloth diaper - set this up around 34 weeks)

  • Cloth Diaper Bin

  • Disposable Diapers for nights

  • Reusable / Flushable wipes

  • Newborn Salve/Diaper Cream (We recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby or DiaperKind)

  • A place to change baby's diapers (changing pad and/or table)

  • Swaddles

  • Newborn Outfit (tshirt / loose kimono onesie / long sleeves with mittens, avoid buttons - snaps and zippers as much as possible)

  • Wrap Infant Baby Carrier (learn how to use the wrap before birth)

  • Baby Nail File

  • Wash cloths for burping, spit up and towel bath (you will find thousands of other ways to use washcloths!)

  • Sound Machine

  • For cold weather: Humidifier, Baby Snow Suit, Stroller Muff & Cover.


FOOD

Fridge/freezer stocked? Having some meals prepped (or just making sure to have all your favorite meals/snacks on hand!) can be a great way to simplify an already new and often chaotic schedule, and its another way for people to help you without overcrowding you and your baby when you first get home!
People often get ravenously hungry when breastfeeding so keep snacks, food and water always within arms reach.  We recommend nuts, lactation cookies, fresh and dried fruit, yogurt and oatmeal.
Stock the freezer with your favorite casseroles, soups and broths.

 

 

  • Bone broth

  • Antioxidant rich foods

  • Iron rich foods

  • Lactation rich foods - Oatmeal / Barley / Millet / Fenugreek / Mothers Milk Tea

  • Aim to drink at least 2 litres of pure water a day (on top of teas and broths). This is essential for rehydrating after surgery and a hospital stay which can be notoriously drying for the body. It also helps prevent infection, flush out inflammation and traces of analgesia and antibiotics, help keep the bowel and urinary tract moving and flushing, along with providing enough hydration as your body begins to produce breastmilk too!

  • A varied, well balanced diet rich in protein, good fats, minerals, vitamins and fiber will help your body attribute the necessary nutrients to all the different bodily functions happening at once. Foods which help to fight inflammation are also helpful for your body right now.

  • Raspberry Leaf Tea – whilst after any other type of birth I would encourage the use of Raspberry Leaf Tea, following a Cesarean I would encourage caution. Longer term certainly helpful as it is such a wonderful uterine tonic at any stage of a person’s life, however for the first six weeks following the operation I would personally be limiting this tea to once every few days.

  • Fennel, cardamon, ginger; all helpful should there be any trapped gas, or constipation. If you’re feeling a little warm or your temperature is up then fennel with it’s slightly cooling properties would be a wiser choice. The other blessing here is that all three of these herbs and spices are traditionally used as galactagogues – substances that promote and enhance milk production.

  • Magnesium - Many people get constipated after surgery and this can be especially painful af- ter a cesarean (or a vaginal birth!) take some magnesium to help loosen stools and prevent constipation.

CHORES

Split up the chores. It can be overwhelming to try to grocery shop, plan, prep and cook a meal all at once. Split things up so you or a support person is helping you do one thing a day. 
Dog walker? Cat sitter? Babysitter? Both for the birth itself, but also for the first few weeks afterwards, having that help set up or just having the option, can give new parents a little more ease of mind, and allow you to focus on yourself and baby
Cleaning the House, Laundry & Folding - have a set regular time when someone comes by to help. Task friends and family or hire professional help. 


MANAGING VISITORS

Try and preemptively communicate with friends and family about ways they can help once baby arrives, or during baby's arrival. This can be great for situations where your birth plan maybe doesn't go as expected, having a few people on call to bring food (or company!) to you at home and/or where you give birth. Make sure to set boundaries; most people don’t want 10 people in a hospital room with them or in their home the week after baby comes!

Creating notes around the house for visitors as they enter - eg. Welcome, our baby is excited to meet you. Please take off shoes and wash your hands. Please don’t be offended if our baby is sleeping or breastfeeding and you don’t get a chance to hold them.
Adding a bowl of notes that have different chores on them so when visitors come, they can pick one.
Have your preferred grocery list written down so that someone can buy them for you.
Have the phone number of lactation consultant / pp doula or baby sitter on fridge so you can call immediately.
A good rule of thumb is to only have people over you’re comfortable breastfeeding in front of! There will be plenty of time for visiting with people later on! Take the first few days and weeks to bond as a family, get into a routine, and get as much rest as possible!
Accept help if you need it! There is no shame in having help, especially if it helps you (and partner!) to recharge or take a quick break! If people are only offering help that doesn’t actually serve you, rather than turn it down, you can suggest other, more useful ways for people to help you. 

How to BE a respectful visitor: 

  • ask when a good time to visit is

  • check in just before to confirm don’t ring the doorbell in case baby is sleeping

  • ask about leaving shoes outside

  • wash hands as soon as you enter

  • keep phone on silent

  • ask how you can help

  • keep company while breastfeeding

  • focus on the parent - how are you / how was your experience/ how are you feeling,

  • don’t visit when you’re even a little sick,

  • leave after an hour -90 mins, don’t over stay,

  • don’t ask to meet outside at a set time - offer to visit them at home at a time set by the new parents,

  • bring food even if they say don’t bring food.


SLEEP

Dealing with sleep deprivation can be one of the most challenging aspects of a new baby. You've probably heard, sleep when the baby sleeps. It's true up to a point but newborns eat every two hours. It gets a lot easier if you're able to take turns with partner, family or support person and sleep in shifts. Baby’s longest sleep is usually 8pm - midnight. Have someone else care for baby then. Or if you really hate the 3am shift, have someone take that so that you can rest. It’s not that babies act differently at night, they’re just getting used to new rhythms and we have less patience at night than during the day.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Meal Train
Lactation Consultant on Call
Postpartum Doula on Call
Postpartum Chef
Cloth Diapering Service (launder and return clean set)
Babysitter / Nanny / Baby Nurse
Postpartum Meal Delivery Service

 
PHYSICAL RECOVERY

What to expect:
 

  • Postpartum Bleeding - Postpartum bleeding occurs regardless of whether you delivered vaginally or not, and the intensity and length of time of the bleeding can vary - but it should become less and less intense as time goes on. It typically resembles a heavy period, sometimes with clots. When to be concerned: If you’re having any low blood level related symptoms (shortness of breath, dizziness etc), are fully soaking pads every hour for multiple hours, or if you have a high fever, call a doctor.

  • Contractions

  • Sweats

  • Hair changes

  • Vaginal Tearing (in varying degrees)

  • Post surgery pain

  • Contractions

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Incontinence

  • Painful to sit

  • Sweating and hot flashes

  • Pain while peeing and pooping

  • Diastasis recti

  • Pelvic floor weakening

  • Shakes

  • Hair falling

  • Skin changes

  • Call and/or see your doctor if you have headaches, blurry vision, blood pressure, urinary retention, clots, or a fever

Vaginal Birth
 

  • Padsicles: Witch hazel + Aloe + Lavender on a Maternity Pad and freeze

  • Spray Bottle while you pee / pee in shower

  • Laxatives for first elimination

  • Exercise - 4 weeks

  • Witch Hazel, Aloe, Lavender Essential Oil and Ziplock bags to make Padsicles

  • Spray bottle / Peri bottles

  • Ice packs

  • sitz bath

  • post birth donut pillow (can also use the boppy)

Padsicle Recipe

- Cold packs are a must have for postpartum! It reduces swelling and pain, and can overall just feel very relieving.

- Heavy, extra thick overnight pads
- Witch hazel (without alcohol!)
- Aloe vera gel (without any additives/preservatives, try and find 100% aloe gel!)
- Optional, lavender essential oil
- Ziploc bag
Open the pad, but leave the adhesive wrapper on. Mix the aloe, witch hazel and a few drops of essential oil together, and saturate the pad with it (how much you want it saturated is up to you, so adjust your mix accordingly!) Place the pads into the ziploc (you can fold them back up, or freeze them flat, based on the space in your freezer and what kind of wrapper your pad has) and stick them in the freezer until they’re cold to your liking
Tip: make a big batch of them! When you want to use one, take it out to thaw for a little.
 

Adult diapers/mesh underwear that hospitals provide (certainly get them regardless of where you give birth, but if you have access, stock up!) are really great for recovery, especially for c-sections because the band is above the scar. Many people swear by the disposable mesh underwear, its super soft and stretchy while also being breathable, holds thick pads in place comfortably, and of course prevents ruining expensive underwear!

Peri bottle - Essentially works as a less fancy bidet. It can burn/sting to pee, and having a steady stream of water can help calm It also makes sure you get clean without having to wipe, which right after birth can feel too harsh

Sitz baths - This is simply sitting in a small amount of water in the tub - think just enough to sit in and have your bottom submerged. The water is soothing, some people find pain relief in hotter water, some colder, so see what feels best, and it increases blood flow, which aids in healing. It’s also just an easy way to clean an area that may feel incredible tender! Sitz baths are also really helpful in healing hemorrhoids. Finally, the benefit of making yourself sit alone for maybe 20 mins a day (or more if possible)! Use this as alone time to read/watch something you haven't been able to, call a friend, or relax in whatever way you want!

How to take a Sitz bath: 

Have someone make sure the tub is clean, and removed of any grime!
Add ins: witch hazel, essential oils (lavender most notably) and epsom salts which all aid in reducing pain and swelling, and aid in healing
If peeing is really painful, sitz baths may be the only time it doesn't hurt - pee in the bath before you get out if that's the case!
Wear something on top to stay warm
Very gently pat dry your bottom using a clean towel 

Surgery Healing

  • Take it slow

  • High waisted maternity underwear

  • Soothing salve

  • Stay on top of painkillers

  • Lots of anti-inflammatories & warming spices, Bone broth and Water

  • Scar suture wire

  • Raised scar

  • Height of bed

  • Firm bed rather than too soft

  • Exercise - 6 weeks

  • Try to avoid sitting straight up, use your hands to press yourself up to sit.

  • Get something to step up onto your bed if it’s high, something strong and sturdy to hold on to as you lower yourself if it is low.

  • Set up an adequately sized bedside table which is big enough to house a big bottle of water, a tea pot full of tea, a breast pump or a baby bottle, your mobile phone and it’s charger, a lamp suitable for use in the night, a muslin cloth, pain meds, and a little bowl of healthy snacks – think fresh fruit, nuts, crackers, dried fruits, dark chocolate.

  • Pain medication: Keep on top of the dose for the first few days. Double check with your healthcare providers if the pain relief you are prescribed is compatible with breastfeeding. Set an alarm to remind you when you are due to take the next dose so that you don’t get caught unaware by intense pain.

  • Mesh Underwear: When lying naked in bed skin to skin with baby isn’t possible for whatever reason – use big underwear. At least 5cm above your belly button, 100% cotton, at least two sizes larger than you would normally wear (they will help keep the sanitary towels in place too!) Additionally, tear up or cut up an old cotton sheet – get it washed in a hot hot wash (60 degrees plus) and tear it into strips about 15cm x 25cm in size, to fold or roll up and to tuck between your wound and the underwear.

  • Especially while stitches are still in place, clothing should be soft, and ideally not have waistbands, (avoid tight/rough waistbands that sit right at the hips/scar level). Many people find that they continue to wear maternity leggings/bottoms as the waistband goes much higher than the scar, and won’t cause as much irritation!

  • Binding -You can also consider belly binding around your belly to help keep abs together. You would want it to feel supportive and strong, not too tight like a corset. Using light pressure and compression can lessen the pain and speed healing after a c-section. In fact, this can be helpful for non cesarean births as well since it helps reduce pain and helps the uterus return to normal size more quickly.

  • Keep moving. Slowly but surely, a little bit more each day. Keeping moving helps our whole body to heal, regulate and keep functioning optimally through good circulation and good flow of the lymph and other fluids. Keeping mobile can also help to prevent a build up of trapped gases. You don’t need to head out of the door if you don’t feel ready, but stroll around the house, if you have a garden have a wander in the garden. Don’t carry or lift anything heavier than baby though remember, and do what you need to do to help your body feel safe and supported; even if that means physically holding your abdomen with your hands as you walk for a few days.

  • It takes a village - Every family needs extra help after the birth of a newborn, but following a Caesarean birth, with rest being as fundamental to physical healing as it is - organizing a meal train, or someone to come and entertain siblings or the dog, someone to do laundry can really make a difference to your peace of mind and the logistics of those early weeks. Postpartum doulas are great for this, If not: reach out to those friends in your circle who can offer some support and get used to asking for what you need during the coming few days, weeks and months.

  • Find the position that works the best for you and your baby. Maybe it is sitting upright holding baby in the football position. Perhaps you can lie on your side with baby adjacent to you (this might not be possible immediately after a Cesarean). If you are sitting cross legged it can be really wonderful to put a cushion or pillow underneath each of your knees as it takes the strain off your abdomen. Use a breastfeeding pillow if it’s helpful.

  • Milk Production/Pumping – milk production can take a little longer following a Caesarean (and analgesia); and so pumping might well be suggested to “improve” or hasten milk flow. Make sure to consult a well recommended Lactation Consultant or Peer to Peer Breastfeeding Counselor to iron out any issues before they take route. Lastly; due to the IV fluid that you receive when you undergo a Cesarean birth combined with the fact that baby doesn’t withstand the compression of a vaginal birth; babies born via C section can have a slightly higher birth weight than their vaginally born counterparts. This can in turn mean a slightly elevated weight loss in the early days...remember to bring this into any conversation about baby’s weight loss (even if it’s just a personal reminder to reassure yourself) and perhaps consider waiting one more day before intervening with supplementation.

  • Skin to skin is so helpful for promoting bonding, breastfeeding hormones, improving the micro- biome of the infant and birthing person, regulating temperature of birthing person and baby. Make sure your room temperature is warm enough, and snuggle up together in bed – include your partner too! Skin to skin promotes oxytocin and promotes your milk supply.

  • Foods and Supplements

  • Top Anti-Inflammatory Food Sources: Wild Alaskan Salmon, Extra Virgin Oil, Cruciferous Vegetables, Blueberries, Turmeric, Ginger, Garlic, Green Tea, Sweet Potato

  • Nettle tea, dandelion tea, fennel tea and breastfeeding teas such as the Weleda tea will all help to promote breastfeeding but also assist your body in flushing out all the excess fluids your body produced during pregnancy, as well as help your body cleanse out all the pain med- ication, anesthetics, antibiotics and IV fluids that you may have received during the Caesarean and immediately afterwards.

  • Warming spices: ginger, cardamom, turmeric. Turmeric is not only a warming spice but one of nature’s greatest anti inflammatory substances (over the counter anti-inflammatories include Advil/Naproxen), and is a galactagogue (a substance which encourages the production of breast milk) so turmeric can truly have a multitude of highly beneficial side effects. Turmeric is best absorbed by the body when paired with black pepper.

  • Peppermint Tea or Peppermint Oil – whilst normally both peppermint tea and oil would be wonderfully helpful after surgery on or around the abdomen for gas or trapped wind, following a C-section during the period of time where you are likely to be trying to initiate breastfeeding – peppermint oil is understood to interrupt milk supply and production. Same with Sage and Cinnamon.

  • Glutamine - check with your doctor but taking glutamine in the weeks following surgery as there can drastically speed recovery: Glutamine is a key substrate for fast-growing and multi- plying cells, including white blood cells. Glutamine stimulates the proliferation of fibroblasts, thereby helping in wound closure. It is the major amino acid lost during any tissue injury, implying a significant role in the preservation of lean body mass. According to researchers, glutamine possesses anabolic properties, which are effective in wound healing only when present in amounts 2 to 7 times greater than required in healthy persons. You can usually get enough glutamine without taking a supplement, because your body makes it and you get some in your diet. Certain medical conditions, including injuries, surgery, infections, and pro- longed stress, can lower glutamine levels, however. In these cases, taking a glutamine supplement may be helpful.

  • Bone broth is packed with amino acids like proline and glycine, which are needed for collagen production and great for skin healing. Broth also contains gelatin, which is beneficial for wound healing and for the skin. Traditional broth can really help recovery from c-sections and as a bonus, it helps digestion and can ease the digestive discomforts and constipation that sometimes come after cesarean birth.

  • Probiotics – after having been exposed from the inside out to bacteria which are so different from our own micro-biome in an operating theatre, and then receiving a big dose of antibiotics; taking probiotics in the form of supplements, or drinking yoghurt or water kefir, or eating fermented foods like sauerkraut readjust the micro-biome from the inside out. Studies are show- ing us that our guts are fundamental to good health, and unfortunately also show that having a c-section can have a detrimental effect on our babies’ gut health. Probiotics have a great impact on breastmilk milk quality but also on our internal healing as they can help to reduce gas, constipation and bloating which are common post surgery side effects. Of course if you choose to feed formula then supplementing your baby with a dose of probiotics for babies is a healthy supplementation. Check with your care-provider.

  • Scar care - It's important to remember that the scar you see on the outside is just a fraction of the full scar! The soreness from the cut in the muscles and deeper layers often lasts longer than the pain of the superficial scar, but just remember that whatever scar you see on top, the actual incision to get baby out was probably about 3x that size. Scars often tend to itch as they heal as well, which can be pretty irritating, and you of course don’t want to interfere with it healing properly. This means that your core is having to do a lot of reconnecting and healing (which is why proper engaging of the core is vital - to bring everything back together), which is why c-section recovery is often more immobile.

  • Following the first 6 weeks of healing the wound should be healing nicely – or certainly appear to be doing so from the outside. From the six week point in the healing process, gentle massage and wound care on the skin can be supportive in successful longer term healing. Once again; go gently with the dosage – start with just one drop of whichever oil you choose in a teaspoon of carrier oil. Also, go gently with your touch and pressure – be mindful of how your wound is feeling. Start out for the first couple of months with light touch massage once or twice a week gently increasing if it feels comfortable; and then 3-4 months postpartum introduce massage with an electric toothbrush or a vibrator if it feels comfortable for you. The gentle pulsation of the toothbrush or vibrator is thought to discourage adhesions from forming amongst tissue and organs.

  • Soothing Salve - A cesarean is major abdominal surgery and there is a substantial incision. Using this healing salve after delivery (http://wellnessmama.com/3520/homemade-healing- salve/) can help remove them and speed scar healing. It can also be used on the perineum after a vaginal delivery.

  • Air to the wound as much as possible - Lie down whilst baby sleeps or is carried by your partner and just let clean dry air reach the wound – in the very immediate days that might mean that you need to hold the belly up off the wound as your body begins to reacclimatize to not having a full pregnant belly anymore.

  • In the first couple of weeks water is all that is needed to wash the wound; and the most important thing: dry it scrupulously (moist patches of skin can be breeding ground for fungal infection; see aromatherapy hacks for anti fungal oils)

AROMATHERAPY
 

  • Rose, lavender, and chamomile to relax and restore. Bergamot and/or neroli to lift the spirits during the day. These essential oils could be used on a warm or cool compress on your face or your neck, or could be diffused gently in the room. Again; less is more.

  • Frankincense – a healing essential oil with antiseptic, antibacterial and anti fungal properties, it is also a cicatrisant (which means it promotes effective healing and regeneration of the skin/ wounds/scars). It is also an effective digestive oil; when used externally through massage it can help to relieve trapped gas.

  • Lavender – wonderfully calming (but not necessarily the best essential oil to promote sleep as it actually improves mental function), antibacterial, antiviral and proven to be an effective essential oil for pain relief. It has also been understood to speed up the healing process of wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns because it improves the formation of scar tissue.

  • Chamomile – antidepressant, antispasmodic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, and cicatrisant (see above), wonderful for promoting skin healing and regeneration too; calming properties for even the most sensitive skin.

  • Carrot Seed Oil – antiseptic, antiviral & disinfectant, carminative (removes stubborn trapped gases), It stimulates both circulation and metabolic function; which in turn can promote good healing. Carrot Seed essential oil stimulates the growth of new cells and tissues. It also tones the skin and prevents it from hanging loose or showing signs of aging. It has a soothing earthy aroma and is known to promote relief from stress and anxiety, which having a refreshing effect on the emotions.

  • One last word of caution; even after the 6 weeks...go gently; especially if you are breastfeeding. One or two drops in a heaped teaspoon of carrier oil (jojoba, vitamin e, almond, argan, coconut etc) is more than enough. The body is so sensitive for the first 4 months after giving birth; and whilst essential oils are natural, they are powerful and can impact on the function of the uterus and the production and regulation of hormones amongst other things, so over use can result in heightened sensitivity.

 

HOMEOPATHY

The Helios Homeopathic Childbirth Kit It has five powerful remedies in an adequately potent dose to assist inside out healing following a Cesarean Section too.

  • Arnica: a common addition to many first aid kits, Arnica is useful for all new injuries, and can help reduce soreness, bruising, tissue damage, and bleeding related to surgical procedures. Very helpful for alleviating bruising, swelling, and soreness during recovery from most surgeries. You can find many slaves and healing creams with arnica in them already.

  • Bellis perennis: commonly referred to as Bellis Per. Useful when bruising and trauma occur to soft tissue, and/or to deep internal tissues after surgery involving the abdomen, breasts, or trunk-especially if a feeling of stiffness or coldness has developed in the area.

  • Calendula: to help complete the healing of deep wounds along with preventing inflammation, suppuration and infection at the site of the wound. Calendula also helps prevent keloid forma- tion of the scar.

  • Staphysagria: useful when pain persists at the site of a surgical incision, or after procedures that involve the stretching of a sphincter muscle. It is also indicated after surgeries involving reproductive organs (prostate surgery, hysterectomy, C-section, episiotomy) or the abdomen, stomach, and rectum (including hemorrhoids). Staphysagria may also help after operations on traumatic injuries.

  • Hypericum: particularly useful for injuries, wounds and surgeries involving nerve rich areas of the body.

  • The Helios Childbirth Kits include the remedies at a very potent dose (200c), recommended dosage for two weeks at the strongest dose as included in the kit, then acquiring the same remedies at a lower potency (30c) for an- other week or two. For more specific advise on any other symptoms you are experiencing I recommend finding a qualified homeopathic practictioner in your area.

  • Rescue Remedy: This is very helpful for the emotional side of the healing and coming to terms with the experience, along with those moments of potential overwhelm which come with just having had a baby, and are exacerbated by the intense aches and pains that come with Cesarean recovery. A few drops under the tongue when you feel like you need it; as an added bonus it is very cleansing for the body too.

PSYCHOLOGICAL & EMOTIONAL HEALING

  • Acceptance and Integration – these are simple, commonly used words which psychologically are the foundations of a healthy processing of any difficult experience in life, including difficult or traumatic birth experiences. First of all, tell your story as often as you feel comfortable sharing it. Seek out your partner, your friends and family, your healthcare providers, a therapist, your doula (or postpartum doula), the neighbor...anyone who can listen to you unconditionally and simply allow you to recall things one by one to make sense of how it all unfolded. This is a very important step for your brain in processing the experience; this is one of the primary ways in which it organizes difficult or traumatic events.

  • Journaling – could you find the time to write down a few words each day about your feelings about the Caesarean, your recollections, what you’re grateful for from the experience, how you feel you are healing each day, what disappointments and concerns have come up for you that day? It might just be a list of words, it may be a collection of pictures or diagrams, you could use video or voice notes. Again, journaling in this way can be incredibly helpful in assist- ing the brain to process the experience and not file it away as a trauma. The three feelings you should pay keen attention to and treat with extra special care are guilt, shame and fear; if these feeling persist then consider getting a referral to a therapist.

  • Support Groups – there is a lot of support, empathy and healing to be found in the experience of sharing birth stories with others who have gone through a similar kind of birth experience (particularly if that experience was far away from the experience that you were hoping for). It is important to find a group which is facilitated by someone who you feel safe with, and who can hold space for all members of the group, and who can be relied upon to maintain healthy, non judgmental, mature and open communication in the sessions.

  • VBAC/ Vaginal Birth After Cesarean – one of the most difficult things I have read about people who give birth by Caesarean Section is that they are significantly less likely to choose to have more children because for many the experience of having the surgery, and recovering from surgery is too much to imagine going through a second time. I do maintain that some of that is because there is so little follow up care from health care providers, and somehow such a stigma attached to Cesarean birth that there are few resources out there on successful short, medium and long term strategies for healing successfully from a C-Section. Please keep in mind that the outdated adage “Once a Caesarean, always a Caesarean” is NOT TRUE. Many people go on to experience vaginal birth following a C-Section; so please don’t let your experience of having had a C section put you off planning a VBAC.

EMOTIONAL CHANGES

  • When baby comes home, the family dynamic shifts! You now have a new person in your home, and joining your inner circle! It's completely normal for you and your partner to have a shift in dynamic, either negative or positive. Communicate as much as possible about your needs (both partners!), especially as hormones and temperament (lack of sleep or other stress) are delicate at this time.

  • Mood swings or changes in emotions in general are very common

  • Body image issues may appear or shift (It took you 10 months to grow baby!! Give yourself at least 10 months before you even begin to compare yourself to pre baby!)

  • Brain changes

  • Hormonal Changes

  • Dealing with lack of sleep

  • Dealing with loneliness and repetitive days

  • Anxiety and depression can appear in degrees (in either partner)

  • Body image changes

  • Feeling touched out, not yourself, not wanting to be touched is common, communicate your needs!

  • Crying and blues

  • Not loving baby immediately

  • Moments of regret are normal! It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent, or that whatever stress you’re dealing with won’t end! Take a step away if you can, change of scenery, take a walk, call a friend, read a chapter of a book.

  • Change in feelings toward partner, both positive and negative emotions, are very common. Communication is vital not just for your relationship but to make taking care of baby and healing postpartum body the smoothest it can be

Sample Postpartum Plan:

Birth person

  • Breastfeed

  • Recover

Partner

  • Diapers

  • Swaddle

  • Bottles prep & clean

  • Baby soothing

  • Communication with Family & Friends

  • Bring Baby to be fed

  • Burp

  • Postpartum doula when partner goes back to work

Friends / Family

  • Food (Food delivery when family leaves)

  • Laundry

  • Clean House

  • Other Chores

Professional

  • Lactation Counselor

  • Craniosacral Therapist

  • Pelvic Floor Therapist

What does your ideal postpartum look like?

  • At 2 weeks:

  • At 1 month:

  • At 3 months:

  • At 6 months:

  • At 1 year:

  • What major areas need attention? (E.g. Family Leave, Managing Family, Food)

  • Who do you want around and for how long? Communicate your plan to them.

  • What’s the difference for you between professional vs support from friends and family?

  • What is services and things are available immediately and what do you need to plan for in advance (E.g. Bottles can be bought immediately from the store but cloth diapering needs to be planned in advance)

  • What qualities can you bring into you postpartum and parenting from other parents that you admire?

  • Who is in your like-minded support network as a new parent?

  • What is your plan in case of the unexpected / in case of an emergency?

  • Who can you call if you need help with: (Friends & Family & Professional)

    RELATIONSHIPS & HOW PARTNERS CAN HELP 

  • Check in with partner daily / weekly

  • Make decisions together

  • Resentment when they go to work, because work is easier

  • Second Shift when they come home / you come home from work

  • Family - Tinybeans / setting boundaries / thanks for feedback / focus on parents rather than baby

  • How Partners can help Postpartum

  • Be involved with Baby care

  • Be involved with Household chores

  • Take initiative - don’t wait to be asked, ask how you can help

  • Constant check ins daily, weekly, monthly

  • Ask for what is priority

  • Communicate with family (esp in-laws)

  • Sex & intimacy - feeling ‘touched out’

  • Ask before touching when breastfeeding

  • Learn your own ways to soothe baby

  • Manage communication with family, how can they be helpful

  • Visitors - have signs, only invite people you’re comfortable breastfeeding in front of

  • Don’t take it personally - highs and lows are common

  • Second shift when getting back from work


LONGER TERM HEALING

  • Body work – consider seeing a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, an osteopath, a cranio sacral therapist

  • Therapist, a somatic coach, an energetic healer.

  • Massage or cupping – one of the potential complications with longer term healing following a C section is adhesive scarring (internally). By massaging the area directly around the scar (as mentioned above with an electric toothbrush, or vibrator), the adhesions are understood to be less likely to form. Gentle cupping around the scar after a few months can also discourage adhesions (extensive scar tissue) from forming. It can also be very beneficial for gently removing any inflammation and/or stagnation in the area of the scar; improving sexual response, improving the functioning of the uterus, and bringing blood flow, lymph flow and warmth back into the region.

  • Scar Massage - Anytime there is a major incision, there is a potential for adhesions to form where tissue fuses where it isn’t supposed to. To help avoid this, you can try a gentle scar massage once the wound had fully closed and the scab had gone away.

  • Doing one thing for yourself a day (even if it's taking a shower, which you can do with baby and/or partner)

  • Step out of the house to go to the bank, get coffee, or a walk.

  • Have a conversation with an adult!

  • Listen to podcasts or audiobooks!

  • New parent circles/parent groups. Many new parents report that not joining a new parent circle immediately was a regret, and find that a parents group is incredibly helpful in making connections with other new parents, setting fears and worries at ease, and getting advice on all things parenting and baby.

  • Professionals such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, craniosacral therapists

  • It’s important to remember that growing and birthing a baby (regardless of how baby makes their entrance!) is incredible taxing on the body. And once baby arrives, new physical changes arise. Taking care of your body is a long term benefit, as birth related physical issues often pop up later in life with pelvic floor, back problems or loss of core strength. Acupuncture specifically is starting to be covered by more and more insurance companies, so these types of services don’t necessarily mean breaking the bank.

  • Postpartum depression usually arises months after baby, and is generally noticed by partner first. It’s marked by a significant shift in your personality, not just bad moments or days. Download the app, Take PPD ACT test every 4 months. It can also occur in partners and in men. PPD also varies in degrees; check in with you and partner about emotions and changes, and don’t be afraid to voice concerns/fears… you’re not alone!

Adapted from: https://www.burrelleducation.com/2012/c-section-recovery-an-holistic-viewpoint/ http://wellnessmama.com/25482/c-section-recovery/ https://ilenajoannestandring.com/2016/04/05/holistic-healing-hacks-post-c-section/