So you’ve had a C-Section. Or you’ve been told that you’ll be scheduled for a C-Section. Maybe you’re adjusting to this reality. Maybe you’re considering your options. Maybe you’re healing. Whatever brings you to this post, welcome to the 32+% of American birthing parents who deliver via Cesarean–a statistic that makes the United States home to one of the highest rates by country among countries that are part of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). With nearly a third of American parents delivering via Cesarean, it’s surprising that many parents find themselves unprepared for the realities of a major surgery like a C-Section, and the impact that it is likely to have on the postpartum period.
In our latest podcast, Dr. Taylor Taylor, a chiropractor who got her start treating athletes and ultimately found herself developing a niche for serving prenatal and postnatal clients, helps parents understand what’s different for them, now that they’re viewing postpartum through the lens of a C-Section.
C-Section Versus Vaginal Birth
Major surgery is never optimal, but sometimes it’s necessary. Such is the case with C-Section delivery. While elective Cesarean procedures are common in the U.S., vaginal delivery is deemed safer for the parent and baby unless medical reasons necessitate C-Section delivery. But the good news here is that the U.S. health system is well equipped to handle the intricacies of this procedure, should you find yourself delivering your baby(ies) via Cesarean.
The healing process is different for C-Section parents. Dr. Taylor reminds us that your OB “is there to keep you safe and to make sure that your incisions heal really well. But beyond that, you really need to put in the effort to help your body to heal and function the way that you’re wanting it to.” The doctors are likely to be more focused on the baby and your incision–meaning that your rehabilitation, getting back to movement, and feeling confident and strong in your body too often fall off the conversation docket. If you have questions, be sure to raise them yourself in these meetings.
Navigating Postpartum after a C-Section
Dr. Taylor recommends getting support in place before your C-Section, if you know that you’re having one ahead of time. Set up a nursing station and a place for you to sleep downstairs. You’ll need to avoid twisting and lifting, so hiring a postpartum doula or bringing family into the home to help you in the early days can be extremely helpful.
Bring sensation and awareness to your scar to help yourself heal. Dr. Taylor recommends placing your hands above and below the incision, and speaking to your body with affirmations, assuring yourself that you’re healing, you’re safe, and you’re doing great. Use gentle belly breathing to bring intention to your healing and awareness to your core.
Take it easy in the early weeks. Listen to your body and its ability. Signs to slow down include increased achiness, pain in the low back or pelvic floor, urinary incontinence, leaking, or pressure. Take space from visitors and (as much as possible) household requirements while you adjust to life with a newborn amid physical limitations. Meanwhile, nourish your body with warm foods like broths and soups, and foods with collagen. Eat what you are craving and make it a goal to get at least one nourishing meal per day.
While you may be “cleared” by your doctor at your six-week postpartum visit, you’re not actually cleared for life-as-normal until your body tells you so. Listen to your body and take things slowly, rather than feeling the need to get back to your old speed. (And that’s advice I share for any new parent, C-Section or not!) Consider working with a chiropractor, physical therapist, or pelvic floor therapist so that you are relying on the knowledge of experts as you navigate your own healing.
For more information, reach out to Dr. Taylor on Nessle
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