Congratulations! You’re amazing and have given birth to your beautiful baby! We know that your focus is probably 100% on your baby right now, but we need to take care of you.
You have undergone major surgery. Please don’t underestimate this. There are not many other major surgeries where you are expected to care for a newborn straight after such an ordeal so please ensure you ask for help.
You’ve probably heard the saying "put on your own oxygen mask before helping others" and that’s what we're aiming to help you do.
The surgeon will have cut through 7 layers of tissue and separated your abdominals so sitting up in bed using your traditional abdominal crunch is going to be tricky. Instead, roll on to your side and lever yourself up. Your future spine will thank you for this.
Lifting Your Baby
Try and avoid lifting your baby in those early days if you can (easier said than done). Lifting car seats in and out of cars or lifting and twisting while holding a newborn needs to be avoided if you can to protect your back.
Shower / Bath
Showers are fine even with a wound dressing. After 7-10 days the wound dressing is removed and you can have a bath if you like. Try and avoid perfumed products and opt for an emollient in the bath if anything. No exfoliation or abrasives. After a bath, grab a clean muslin and lay it over your scar and gently pat it dry.
Creams / Lotions
Avoid applying anything to the scar until it is fully closed – which can be 4-6 weeks. Once you reach the 4-6 week mark you can start to do some focused scar therapy (link to next blog)
It’s going to feel strange. Even with a c-section, it will feel odd as your pelvic floor has still undergone an enormous amount of change carrying the weight of your baby for the 9 months and the impact of the birth on the surrounding tissues. If after a couple of times the ‘strangeness’ or pain continues then speak to your health visitor or get in touch with us for a more detailed assessment.
Look at your scar
Scars can hold a lot of emotion, so connecting with this part of your body is so important to healing. This is a very individual experience and this is going to be when you are ready. Lie down on your back, take a mirror and look at your scar. How do you feel? This may stir up some emotions – shock, sadness, disappointment, joy....acknowledge and breathe. Your partner can help you with this or please contact your health visitor or of course we are here to support you through this healing. Remember, you have undergone major surgery. This is trauma to your body and you may store feelings about this which are triggered when you see or touch your scar.
Touch your scar
You will be amazed how many women we see who have never touched their scar. Acknowledging, connecting and engaging with your scar is one of the first steps to healing from this major surgery. The whole of your body is mapped on your brain in the ‘sensory homunculus’ – some parts have bigger areas mapped such as fingertips and the tongue which make them more sensitive. Other parts have smaller maps.
The nerves will have been cut as part of the surgery. By touching the scar you are ‘waking up’ the sensory parts of the brain and helping those neurological connections to reform and encouraging sensation to return, so don’t be surprised if some parts feel numb, there’s plenty of time. By touching and engaging with your scar you are helping to reintegrate that scar into your body to be part of you.
Wear really big pants! Compression is great for the scar and cotton, breathable pants which are ideally seam-free and have no detail or decoration will do wonders for your scar healing.
It’s going to take time to recover from this major surgery. Scars take 2 years to mature and at that point is it by no means the end, your body continues to remodel through life but these first two years are a big opportunity for change.