“The worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work, and how they don’t work.”
If you’re new to my blog, welcome. And if not, then welcome back!
How are you? How’s life treating you?
Me, I’m doing good. Great, actually. I am 3 months post-partum since delivering my son via emergency caesarean section (c-section) and I’m slowly starting to feel like myself again. I’m not completely there but I’m getting there.
There’s a lot about the recovery process that not a lot of people talk about.
If you’ve never had a c-section before, it’s easy to think that it is the easy way out when it comes to giving birth. Nothing could be further from the truth. A C-section is indeed major surgery and the recovery process that comes with it is no joke! I’ve shared my experience about the procedure here and so I wanted to share what it took for me to heal from it as a first-time mum.
I apologise in advance for the TMI you are about to read. This is how we do it on lydiiaonlife.com so read on at your own risk.
*DISCLAIMER* I am not a medical professional nor am I giving anyone advise on any of the issues mentioned below. These are just some of the symptoms I experience after my c-section and the things that helped me recover. If you experience any or other symptoms please speak to a medical profession first. I do not take any responsibility for your use of the information I have provided.
Okay, are you sitting comfortably? Here we go.
Sleep is very important, right? Especially for someone who’s had 5 sleepless nights of painful contractions and gone through major abdominal surgery. Unfortunately, after just having my insides ripped open, moved around and then shoved back together, sleep was one of the many things I couldn’t do properly. For the first week I could only sleep upright using a stack of pillows because it made it easier to get into position to feed the baby and get out of bed using as little abdominal muscle as possible. I’d never been more grateful for a nursing pillow than I was during that first week.
After the surgery I was swollen from head to toe. Literally! I was still numb from the anaesthetic so I couldn’t feel it but I could see it and it wasn’t pretty. I was given compression socks to stop the blood clotting in my legs because of the swelling but as for the rest of my body, the swelling had to go down all on its own and it did, eventually after a week. My face was swollen, my hands were swollen, my thighs and feet were swollen. Everything was swollen. By the second week the swelling had gone down and I started looking like a human again even though I didn’t feel like one or move like one either.
If I could describe my post-partum in one word it would be painful. I felt pain everywhere whilst doing everything. Walking, talking, laughing, coughing, sneezing, showering, dressing, driving on bumpy roads, turning, feeding, getting out of bed or moving at all, I felt pain. Even the thought of moving was painful. No joke. I was in pain from head to toe and every move felt like I was about to rip in half. This must be what it feels like to be hit by a bus. Once I was discharged I had to take 4 types of medication several times a day and inject blood thinning medication into my abdomen for 10 day. As painful and tiring as it was injecting myself and taking pills, the thought of the pain I would feel if I didn’t was far more terrifying.
With all that medication running through me my bowels decided to take a break from functioning as normal. For the first 2 weeks of my recover I was constipated and had trouble passing stools comfortably. I was taking the medication given to me by the hospital to help with my constipation but they didn’t seem to be working fast enough. Then my midwife suggested having a glass of prune juice everyday and what do you know, my bowels were back in action. I still struggled a little to pass stools like I used to but I wasn’t constipated as badly any more and it came out eventually – just took a little longer than I’m used to. Sorry, I told you this would be a TMI post. Keep reading at your own will.
As a result of constipation, I had an anal fissures which lasted about a week or so. Anal fissures is a small tear in the skin of the anus which causes a lot of pain and some bleeding when doing a number 2 (I did warn you about the TMI). I was able to treat this by washing the area with salt water to help it heal. I also took laxatives as well as prune juice during that time to make it easier to go to the toilet while the area was healing. Fun times!
Well, when your bowels are all clogged up, you can only guess the kind of gas that is coming out of you. Need I say more? Post-partum gas is a real thing. If you don’t believe me then just Google it! Research has said changing diet can help but all the foods that give gas are the foods I like eating so guess the world would have to deal with whatever aroma that comes out of me. Sorry, not sorry.
During my delivery I was given an epidural to help ease the contractions as the gas and air wasn’t enough. This meant I needed a urinary catheter so I could pee freely since I was numb from the waist down. I stayed with it for 2 days after the surgery and I felt so uncomfortable the whole time. Not only could I feel the catheter once the anaesthetic wore off, it was also incredibly painful to pee once the catheter was taken out. I was advised to drink lots of water to help dilute the acidity in my urine and although it felt like I was drinking the entire River Themes, it wasn’t enough to avoid the burning sensation whilst peeing. It took 2 weeks and 3 litres of water a day for the burning sensation to stop. You can imagine how often I had to pee in that time. Ouch!
So I was aware that there would be post-partum bleeding but no one told me it would last 6 weeks. 6 weeks! 6 weeks of bleeding was not what I signed up for. It was like having all those periods I missed during pregnancy in one go. I felt dirty and moving around was extremely uncomfortable. Not to mention the bleeding was very heavy which meant I had to wear adult diapers. Sexy! After 3 weeks the flow became lighter but I did start to feel some period-like symptoms such as back ache, light cramps but nothing like my usual period pains (if I can remember what those felt like).
Along with periods, I experienced contractions too. Yes, these bad boys don’t go away just because you’ve given birth. The purpose of them after birth is to help shrink your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size and shape and this process is called involution. Since I was breastfeeding, the contractions were a lot stronger and lasted about a week or so. Why no one gave me a heads up about this in sex education or biology, I don’t know. Unless I wasn’t listening…
LOSS OF APPETITE
After the surgery I didn’t have that big of an appetite. The hospital food wasn’t great and though my family brought me food, I struggled to eat as much as I should have. I did force myself to eat since I was recovering from major surgery and breastfeeding another human, however, I was so exhausted that I’d sometimes pick sleep over food. Shameful I know but with some
force feeding encouragement from my family I was able to eat enough until my appetite came back – 2 months later. It’s still not where it used to be but it’s getting there.
My c-section incision is known as the horizontal or bikini incision (Pfannenstiel incision) which was sealed using Steri strips that were taken out 5 days after the surgery. This type of incision is said to leave a much more cosmetically appealing scar once it has healed. I didn’t see my scare till after 8 weeks when my uterus had gone down and to be honest there was nothing cosmetically appealing about it to me. The scare is slightly raised and feels hard to the touch and quite frankly I’m not a fan of it. However, I don’t mind it because it’s a reminder of how amazing our bodies are and what I had to go through to bring my child into this world safely. Plus it’s low enough to be covered by my underwear or bikini and I don’t usually go around showing my abs (I don’t have any anyway) so it won’t be seen. There’s always a silver lining even if it doesn’t look as great as you’d like it to..
Carpal tunnel is the pain, numbness and tingling in the thumb, index finger, middle finger and the thumb side of the ring fingers due to compression of the median nerve as it travels through the wrist. Most women experience this in the early months of their pregnancy but I experienced it towards the very end and it lingered on for 6 weeks after I gave birth. This made looking after the baby very difficult. As if I wasn’t dealing with enough issues already.
DE QUERVAIN’S TENDINOSIS
This is just a fancy way of saying inflammation of the thumb tendon. I was told that this was common after giving birth because your hands are constantly doing things they aren’t usually used to – like holding a baby. This overuse of the joint can cause the tendon to swell resulting in pain and tenderness along the thumb side of the wrist. You notice the pain most when forming a fist, grasping or gripping something, or when turning the wrist. I was advised to do some wrist exercises and wear a split to help get rid of the pain as I couldn’t take medication because I was breastfeeding. Simple things like picking my son up became increasingly painful but I just did what I was advices and put my Supermum pants on and dealt with the pain as much as I could. Wasn’t easy but I got used to it.
I knew that women experience post-partum hair lost but for some reason I thought I had somehow been one of the lucky ones to avoid it. I washed my hair a month after giving birth and everything was good. Hair was still full and I experienced the usual amount of shedding. However, the following month when I did my usual wash-day routine I was shocked at the amount of hair that was sitting in my sink and on my comb. It looked like I had done a big chop or something. I honestly didn’t expect that much hair to leave my head but it did. Luckily I have very thick hair and a lot of it was still left on my head so the loss wasn’t noticeable but damn, it was a sad and shocking moment. Hopefully it will grow back to it’s lustrous self again with the help of some wigs and protective styles.
And that’s it…so far.
No one can prepare you for what you will experience during a natural birth let alone a c-section. Some women have it and within weeks they are back to their normal self, others have it and end up with complications and some have it and take months if not years to recover. Every woman is different and every experience is different.
Child birth does a lot to a woman’s body but I feel as though a lot of us don’t share enough about it. Aside from the physical recovery there was also the mental and emotional recovery too. This recovery is still an on going process which stem from before I gave birth. A lot of these symptoms I’m still struggling with 3 months post-partum and I can only hope that soon I will feel like myself again. Completely. But for now, I’m taking it one day at a time and focusing more on my baby and less on my body.
This post was just my way of sharing my experience. It’s a hard, painful and not so pretty one but it’s worth it.
What was your post-partum experience like? Let me know in the comments below.
Till next time.