April is caesarean awareness month, in the uk about 1in 4 births is by caesarean. Bertie my middle child was delivered by caesarean 4 years ago. Having had both types of delivery I hate the idea that there can be such a stigma about caesarean births. As long as mother and baby are well and supported, every type of birth should be celebrated! My issue with Caesarean births is the lack of information and support women are given post birth to help with healing. Here are 5 of my top tips for C-section healing:
1. Rest and recuperation
A caesarean is major abdominal surgery and as such women need to spend time resting and allowing their bodes to heal. Avoiding lifting and where possible allow family and friends to help out, so you can focus on you and your baby.
2. Nutrition for healing
It’s so important postnatally to eat the right foods to help you heal. A diet rich in protein from (meat, dairy and legumes) and high fibre, vitamin rich foods, like spinach, broccoli and a variety of raw fruits and veg, help the body to heal more quickly. They are important in helping to repair tissues, skin and ligaments. If you eat meat and dairy, go with organic if you can as the animals are not given
antibiotics or growth hormones. If you are breastfeeding you need to ensure that you eat well for yourself and for your new born.
Although it’s very important to rest and recover immediately after a C-section, it’s also important to move gently to help circulation and healing. When you’re feeling strong enough, maybe after a week or so, going for a gentle daily walk is very beneficial both for your body and mental health, just be careful not to over do it! You should not go back to formal exercise until at least 10-12 weeks after a C-section and then it is advised to attend a specific postnatal class, where you can learn how to move again in a pelvic safe way.
4. Abdominal scar massage
This is so important, most women post C-section have no idea how to look after their scars, let alone the benefits of scar massage. There is evidence to suggest that massaging a scar can aid in the healing process and relieve itching, but it has to be done with care. It can also help a new mum to reconnect to her body and come to terms with the trauma she may have experienced. It’s important not to massage the scar too early as this may reopen the scar, you must wait for the scar to be fully healed. When it is fully healed, you can massage with any natural oil, castor oil, coconut oil, etc, if you can manage two to three times a day for around 10 minutes, this will help to hydrate the skin and promote elasticity and make it supple, that would be great but we all know how little time a new mum has, so be realistic and do what you can. Use the tips of your fingers, and combine circular, vertical and horizontal movements around and over the scar, working it in all different directions. You should start with light pressure and progress to a firm pressure, stopping if it’s causing pain. Scar massage plays a vital role in wound recovery. Though the skin can never form back to its original state completely, when performed correctly, massage can help aid flexibility in the skin, prevent itching, reduce the appearance of the scar and hence also play a part in reducing any psychological impact a scar might have.
If in doubt book in with a qualified scar massage therapist, remembering c section scar release works for anyone from a new mum to a 40 year old C-section scar. If you’ve ever had a C-section and have a tight scar get in touch to see how I can help, I’m back taking bookings from the beginning of May.
5. Emotional and mental well-being
Any birth is life changing for the mother and involves mental processing and reflection of the event.
Birth can be a hugely empowering or sadly disempowering event if things do not go to plan and this can really effect postnatal well being. For those who experience trauma during birth, usually due to unexpected events, extreme emotions, or unresolved past experiences, it is important to formally process the experience in order to heal from the trauma. Not all c-sections are traumatic, just as not all vaginal births are joyful. But for those who experience a cesarean and have emotional distress because of it, professional postpartum support and counselling or therapy is critical.
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