It’s been just over a year since our darling girl arrived into the world; don’t even ask me how this is possible because I have no idea where this time has gone.
I’ve written a blog post all about her birthday but I also wanted to talk about my post birth recovery. You might be thinking you can’t possibly still be recovering after a year but I’ll tell you now a C-section is no joke and it’s only been recently that I feel like I have recovered, not fully but much better than before.
When you have a C-section doctors and midwives talk of a 6-8 week recovery period where you’re advised not to drive or to do heavy lifting and basically just take it easy. What they don’t tell you is that it can take months for you to feel normal again.
One of the major problems I have found since the surgery is the discomfit I feel in my tummy, in what I refer to as my ‘pouch’, it’s a lumpy squishy painful section of my tummy that sags down over my scar. This area of skin was and still is painful to the touch; it’s numb but also painful. In the beginning it hurt constantly whereas now it hurts only when Amelia tries to climb on me or when I press against furniture like trying to squeeze past the dining chairs.
This ‘pouch’ has meant that not only was I in discomfort, I have been incredibly self-conscious, I’ve not been able to get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes (mostly due to mat leave weight gain) but also because they simply won’t fit with this ‘pouch’.
I’ve also had a couple of instances of infection in the skin around the scar, this hasn’t been caused by the incision but by the skin touching where the ‘pouch’ hangs down (trust me it’s as horrible to live with it as it is to read about but it’s a reality of C-sections). In order to combat these nasty skin infections I still to this day fold a small piece of soft gauze and tuck it under my tummy along the scar line. Essentially creating a barrier between the skin, this is not ideal and is not how I want to be but it’s better than having a constant infection whilst I work on improving things.
Now I mentioned earlier that I have started to feel better recently and it’s all to do with one thing; weight loss.
Whilst on mat leave I was not living a healthy lifestyle, I ate all the wrong things and over indulged on a daily basis. This meant that not only did I not lose any baby weight but I actually gained back some of the immediate weight loss following the birth. If I’m honest it never occurred to me that the way I felt following the surgery could be directly related to the extra weight I was carrying and continuing to add. I didn’t think that the sensitivity in my tummy could decrease if I lost some pounds meaning that it wasn’t stuffed into jeans that were uncomfortable, or that maybe my whole feeling of discomfort and lack of mobility following the surgery would be dramatically improved upon losing some weight.
Trust me, if I had made this connection whilst on mat leave I would have curbed those bad habits immediately because the way I feel now, after two months of changing my lifestyle is a million miles away from how I felt when my mat leave ended. When I was ready to head back to work I still felt like I needed more time to recover, like my body wasn’t ready for the real world again, I struggled walking up stairs or hills, I couldn’t find anything to wear that wasn’t uncomfortable or unflattering and I was genuinely starting to think that this C-section might have ruined me forever.
How dramatic! Now that I’ve made the decision to lose weight and take back control of my terrible eating habits I feel like a different person. So far I have lost 1 stone 5 pounds and was so delighted to reach my pre-pregnancy weight the day before Amelia’s birthday.
What am I getting at here? All I’m trying to say really is that I have found it crazy difficult to recover from my surgery, I’m not fully healed and have been warned that some elements of the numbness and discomfort may never get better and this is something I am still trying to accept mentally and physically. However, losing weight has made a huge difference to how I feel, maybe that’s not a popular thing to say these days with all the body positivity and self-love going around but it’s the truth. I am a firm believer in body positivity but I do believe that you should love yourself when you know that you are living your best lifestyle. If you know that you are eating well and being kind to your body then you should be able to love what you have. I didn’t love what I had and because of that I was abusing it.
I now feel that if I were to have another C-section in the future, one of the major elements to my recovery would be firstly not to gain a ton of weight in the first place but also to work hard to lose any that I do gain and give myself a chance of being able to feel my best and enjoy myself more as soon as possible after surgery.
Any other mamas out there got any tips or secrets on how to recover from a C-section, preferably quicker than a year later…
Chris DonleySeptember 9, 2018 at 11:39 pm
Hi Rachel! Thanks for writing about your experience. My girlfriend had a C-section this past February, and here we are 7 months later and she still feels sharp pains on that side several times per day.
She went back to the hospital to get checked out. They told her it was “possibly just a hernia” and to wear a waste trainer that they provided to basically push it back in. Well, that was a few months ago and it hasn’t helped.
Is this any advice that you can give that may have helped you recover from your difficult experience?
Rachel EbuehiOctober 2, 2018 at 8:43 pm
Hi Chris, thanks for getting in touch. I didn’t do anything to help my recovery as my GP just told me that’s the way it was with a section. She never advised me of bow I might be able to help myself and so I found I just had to give it time. Comfortable clothes and underwear, lots of rest and push back on the hospital if she’s still really suffering.
Sometimes you have to fight for help when you know something isn’t right. I hope she feels better soon.
alisonFebruary 16, 2019 at 10:02 pm
hi Rachel thanks for all the helpful info I had a c section about 11 months ago,the “pouch” is horrible like a fanny pack.I experience numbness in this area on a daily basis and in addition to that I get these crazy hot flushes night times are the worst have you experienced this?.I was 56kg before I had my baby and now I weigh 63kg so I have gained about 7kg thats alot I had no idea that the weight gain would increase my discomfortbut hearing you talk about how much losing weight has reduced your discomfort really makes sense.I will definately work onosing weight. thanks again