KAYLA HEGER, DPT, PT
Kayla can be reached at email@example.com.
In honor of c-section awareness month we celebrate all moms, no matter how your baby was brought into this world! It was definitely NOT in my “birth plan” to have a c-section and the whole experience was such a whirlwind full of ups and downs, I thought other moms could use some “real” not sugar-coated information from a first time mom with not a lot of experience. So here it goes.
First and foremost, IT’S OK!!! There is so much stigma out there or maybe you have noticed that look in people’s eye when they heard you had a c-section. It’s like “ooo she got the easy way out”, or “you wouldn’t understand since you didn’t have a vaginal birth”. My birth story caught my husband and I a little off guard, throughout my pregnancy (besides being horrifically sick, stay strong mama’s!) things were pretty unremarkable with no major complications until a couple weeks before my due date. We then discovered little miss was not positioned quite right or in a Breech Position.
Up until this point we had been working with a great group of midwives, we had met them all and felt “We’re ready for this” until what seemed to be my world crashing down of “We have your c-section scheduled for November 1st.” Suddenly we were meeting with an OBGYN, surgery prep, and preparing for what would feel like checking into a hotel and suddenly at noon we would be parents!
All of these emotions, all the “birth plans” we had were out the window. Of course, our strong-willed little one again had different plans for us, and we had our new bundle of joy on Halloween and life has never been more blessed since. So, I mean it when I say, “It’s going to be OK.” It will make you stronger, it will build you and your spouses’ relationship, and you will become a better person for it.
Stay positive and lean on others who have been through it before, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!
So, I got past major abdominal surgery, after hours and hours of not feeling my legs, it was time to “get up”, and the dreading pushing on your stomach… It was time to try and have a bowel movement (BM). Ooo yes, I’m going there. For the most part, I have never really had issues with regular BM’s, but after a cocktail of medications, my baby crushing my intestines for 9 months, and things getting re-arranged with surgery, you are bound to get backed up a little. Initially I didn’t really give this much thought to be honest, until I stood up out of bed for the first time and feeling my incision for the first time. I will admit it was not a pain free experience, but there are several things I have learned since that I want YOU to know! First is good WATER INTAKE, yes you had major surgery and it’s important to stay hydrated but, also this will help keep stool soft and easier to pass. Next, KEEP MOVING, if you are not getting any type of urge and feel steady on your feet, start walking. This will help stimulate your digestive system to wake up! TUMMY MASSAGE, I’m not talking on your scar (we will get to that next) but a light tummy massage, the ‘I love you massage,’ works awesome! This helps stimulate the vagus nerve to increase motility in your gut and get things moving. Lastly, KEEP BREATHING, we all want to do it (hold our breath) but it is also one of the worst things to do and it may cause other problems (down there). Use the tools you learned in childbirth prep and keep breathing, you will thank me later.
Until you have been in this situation getting out of bed normally is just like brushing your teeth, it doesn’t really require much thought, we just do it right? Until you have a c-section… wowza I’m sure the nurses got a good laugh that day thinking “Is she going to make it or not?” Also, quick shout out to all nursing staff, they are amazing and they will help you, but once you leave the comfort of the hospital with all your “helpers” you are going to do things on your own!
So, word to the wise, if you can sleep in a bed that isn’t raised to what seems like 10 feet off the ground, is step one. If you have to almost jump in bed, it’s too high 😊.
Second, getting into bed is the easy part, just remember at 3AM to ROLL TO YOUR SIDE FIRST! This had to be repeated in my brain every, single, time. You just had major abdominal surgery, your abdominal muscles are still healing and not quite as strong as they use to be, so give them a little extra support and roll to your side first. Use your arms to prop on your side, lastly, slowly bring your feet to the floor while still using your upper body to help you. Another great tool is using the binder they gave you in the hospital (it works amazing!). You don’t have to wear it all night but have it by your bed and put on before you get up it makes a huge difference.
Now as a physical therapist this has always, always, boggled my mind why no one ever tells you to MOVE YOUR SCAR! Yes, it is very important that first week or two to check on it and its appearance (watching for infection, redness, etc) otherwise you really want to leave it be and let the body heal. Once the healing process is started, you can really give it an extra boost with some light massage. The area surrounding your scar can become very sensitive (if you are still not able to wear jeans or tight pants you know what I’m talking about) so even starting with some “desensitizing” of that area can be very helpful. Light touch movements (vertical, horizontal, circular) are all helpful to get and keep that tissue moving. These simple movements when started early will have huge benefit for you years down the road. If you are in the boat where no one told you about this simple exercise, there is still hope for you! I have seen and worked on scars 10+ years old and got them moving again. If your scar is still numb, is painful, or wondering if there is anything you can do, please come see a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic health and let’s get that scar moving and reduce your pain.
For the first year after my daughter’s delivery I still felt this guilt of why my body could not have a baby the ‘natural way’. I would hear all these beautiful birth stories and for some reason felt that mine just didn’t match up. I remember coming across this phrase one day and it finally clicked for me.
“Scars are just tattoos with better stories”
All of us have a unique story of how we became a mom. For some that may be the ultimate vaginal delivery we all strive for, for others that could be through foster care or adoption. In the end, we all get the precious title of mom that I have never been more grateful for in my life. We all have endured things we never thought or body (physically or mentally) could endure and although it may not be a fairytale story and not all butterflies and roses each one is important in its own way.
Each and every one of us were willing to do what it took to bring our “baby” into this world. Be proud of your birth story and the start of your first chapter in ‘motherhood’.
KAYLA HEGER, DPT, PT
Kayla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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