WARNING: At the bottom of this post is a photograph of part of my caesarean scar six days post-op.
I didn’t know I was going to have to have a caesarean and hadn’t done any research into it. Immediately post-op I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down, courtesy of the epidural. I was on an antibiotic drip for about four hours and had the customary catheter fitted. It didn’t take much longer before the feeling returned to my legs and so as I was able to walk to the bathroom they removed my catheter. The drip canula was removed early evening (it took that long after the 2.49am birth for the doctors to decide that I would probably not require a blood transfusion).
I showered carefully that first evening and the dressing kept water off the incision and didn’t need replacing post wash. Getting in and out of bed was quite uncomfortable as was adjusting position in bed to feed baby or to shift a dead hip! Luckily the bed was fully adjustable so it was easier to get my feet onto the floor. Although desperate to get home, I was concerned that our high bed could pose a problem, which it did! As did our low loo seat. I hurt myself on the first night home getting in and out of bed 8 times with the baby. But you get used to it and find a technique!
We were sent home from the hospital after one night. I had a course of oral antibiotics to finish, some codeine-based pain killers, iron tablets and anti-clotting injections. I’m not a big fan of needles but fortunately the husband wasn’t worried and very sensitively injected me each evening for five nights. Keeping on top of the pain is a good idea. If I missed my allotted time for paracetamol and the codeine I’d start to feel very uncomfortable and tired.
The dressing came off after 5 days at home. It was easy enough to get off but I wish I’d kept it on longer (although I was following the instructions of the community midwives to remove it on that day). The sheer length of the incision gave me a bit of a shock. The dressing was a honeycomb patterned spongey pad that I realised had given me a cushioned protection to external pressure from clothes or bedding and the tape was holding my skin in place. I really missed its support once it had gone! Getting the glue off was really tricky. First I rubbed a facial rose oil into it which softened and removed some of it but left the remaining grey glue extra sticky. I then used rubbing alcohol on the glue (not the cut) this took more off. However, two weeks on I still have some glue patches on my skin.
I think my body has finally realised that it has had an operation and I have felt exhausted for the past three days. Possibly it’s taken this long for the adrenaline and hospital drugs to wear off. I’m aware I’ve got another month of recovery before I see my GP and hopefully will be feeling better and be able to drive. At the moment even being a passenger in the car is unpleasantly uncomfortable.
I wasn’t given much advice on leaving the hospital on how to care for my post-caesarean body. I think they told me not to lift anything other than the baby but other than that I don’t remember any dos or don’ts being expressed.
My stomach has retracted a lot over the last two weeks, probably helped by the fact I’m breast feeding. During the feeds I can feel it pulling and moving, the hormones released whilst feeding assist in prompting the uterus to returning to its original size. I’m still bleeding but quite lightly now. I only passed two small clots about 6 days post caesarean.
The idea of having a caesarean terrified me during pregnancy. I was so scared he’d get stuck and I’d have to have him whipped out. And he did get stuck. And he did get whipped out; but, in the event, it was fine. The theatre staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital were fantastic and my husband got me through it by remaining so calm and understatedly excited at the prospect of meeting our baby.