during my pregnancy, whenever i met someone who’d had a caesarian birth i asked them how their recovery went. i felt like i had a good understanding of the procedure, and what to expect in the operating room, but my picture of how i would heal, and how long it would take was a bit sketchier.
there was no point when i was frightened of the surgery (though as i’ve said before, i was anxious about the spinal block), but i wondered how i would go in the weeks afterwards, with a sore tummy and a baby to look after. i knew i would cope, because i had s with me, and some wonderfully supportive friends and family to call on if we got stuck, but i still wanted to get an idea of what it would be like.
well, arty is now almost four weeks old, and i’m happy to report that i feel really good. they say it takes six weeks to fully recover from that kind of surgery, but i feel 100% better already.
the first few days after the birth were spent in hospital, where my pain was managed really well. i was bleeding quite heavily (going through a couple of heavy duty maternity pads a day), and i moved somewhat gingerly, but overall it was very manageable. i also spent most of my time in bed, and really only got up to shower, use the toilet, visit the breastfeeding room, or change arty’s nappy.
when we got home, i tried to do a little too much. i was now just on panadine forte and voltaren, and because i had been feeling so good in hospital i had an unrealistic idea of how much the combination of bedrest and stronger pain killers had been doing to mask the pain.
i tried to do loads of washing, climb in and out of bed too quickly, and was generally up and about way more than i should have been. and it hurt. after a stern-ish talk from s, i scaled things back. for a couple of days i spent much more time lying down, allowed s to bring me snacks and meals in bed, and just focussed on feeding arty, and feeling better.
the pain lessened a little every day. some movements were much easier than others. i was quickly pain free while siting still, or lying down, but found that getting up from a lying-down position hurt, as did bending over too far to lift arty or pick something up off the floor. interestingly, the whole 20cm-ish incision wasn’t sore – it was just the right end of it that hurt, so lifting my right leg was also quite painful, and s had to help me on with my undies whenever i had a shower for the first two weeks. laughing and sneezing also hurt quite a lot, and were actually among the last things to stop causing me pain. i took fewer and fewer pain killers over the third week, and was completely pain free by arty’s 3 week birthday.
the tape peeled off my incision by about day 15, revealing a very thin scar that had healed over nicely. the stitches had dissolved, and it looked good. i don’t know how quickly it had healed because i let the tape come off in its own time and it was well and truly better by the time it did – i just made sure i kept it clean and dry while it was on.
i am still bleeding a little – it’s like having a light to moderate period, but without the cramps and other pms symptoms. for the first ten days or so the bleeding diminished a bit every day, but it’s stayed relatively steady since then. i’m looking forward to that finishing up soon. it’s kind of like making up for all the menstruation i didn’t do for nine months.
i am really happy with the way i chose to give birth, and pleased with how i’ve recovered. yes, it took a little time, but not necessarily any longer than it would have if i’d had a difficult vaginal birth. all aspects of the procedure and recovery were predictable and manageable which was very reassuring for me. i will definitely be making the same choices for any future pregnancies.