One of the most common questions we’re asked as doulas is how to physically prepare for pregnancy, birth and recover postpartum. Join us on the blog today with Stacey Hendricks, a Cincinnati Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist.
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I am 36 weeks today, so it’s time to pack my bag!! I’ve seen a few lists on Pinterest, but some of the items listed seem unnecessary. Help!! What do I really need in my hospital bag?
-Packing in Pleasant Ridge
When planning for the birth of your baby, you probably already have an idea of who will be present: your partner, your doula, your provider, and an L&D nurse. You might not expect a few additional faces to also step into your labor space as birth becomes imminent. Who are these people?
Then it was time to cut the cord. The last baby I would have was finally about to be completely separate from me. It was the last time I would be part of two. It was the epitome of bittersweet—it was the end of a journey, not just of this birth but of all of them, but although it was an ending it was a happy one, one symbolic of so much, so many lessons I had learned, so much love I had gained...
Whether you’ve just peed on the stick or your due date is quickly approaching, almost every pregnant person has fears leading up to their labor and birth. Let us remind you that you are not alone. At Doulas of Cincinnati we’ve helped prospective parents process a great deal of fears and questions.
“You’ve had 5?”
“Yes, I’ve had 5.”
I know how to burn bacon in the oven, how to organize a family of 7 in a house built for 3, how to run a half marathon… I know about so many things, but not many as intimately as recovering from a cesarean.
It is a completely foreign idea to most, to think that someone could even have five cesareans, but for me, it is reality. I’m going to help you out a little and try to save you a bit of the learning curve on the other side...
Here are the top 5 things I know about recovering from a cesarean for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th times:
- You will be more prepared.
Especially if it is a planned repeat cesarean. You’ll know what to expect and have a little prep time before the birth and baby coming home to think out where you’ll sleep so you don’t climb too many stairs, who will be there to support you those first few days home (since now you’ve had major surgery and a newborn plus older kids), and you’ll have picked a date and time that works with your schedule so holidays and birthdays and, for the most part, life as usual won’t be interrupted.
- People will ask questions and decide what you should have done.
Why did you have another cesarean? Why didn’t you even try? Don’t they tie your tubes after that many? You know you could have had a VBAC? The questions from even complete strangers will roll in and so will those opinions… and it is those that can tear your postpartum apart. They sneak into your mind and soul and even when you know in your heart you’ve made the very best decision for your family, the “what ifs” still creep in. Phone a friend. Talk to your partner. Talk to your doula. Don’t let those nay-sayers get you down. Step away from the mommy boards and try to remember why you made the choices you did. You are a strong and capable adult and those questions and opinions from others stink because you freaking ROCK!
- You will push too hard and test your limits.
Those restrictions mean about half as much as they did the first time you were told; at least to you because you’ve already been there done that. You know what works best for you and, now, with older children at home to care for as well, you will push your limits. You will forget to eat, forget that you just had major surgery, and forget to even sit down! Don’t. It will catch up to you and it will catch up to you quicker than you think. Rest. Get help from your partner, a friend, a postpartum doula, whomever it may be, you need to take time to recover! And even though you may feel fantastic and know what to expect… your body needs to heal, just the same (if not more).
- People will expect more.
They’ve seen you go through this before. They know you know what to expect and have planned for a lot of it this time around; they will expect you to be fine. Not on purpose, not because they are jerky-jerk faces, but because they know you’ve done this before. People think it is easier the second time around, but typically that’s not the case. They forget to tell you to slow down, to rest, and that you need the support… you know, all those sweet things they did the first time? Take a breather. Talk to the people around you and ask them for help to remind you to slow down. I know how hard it can be to ask for help, especially when you feel like people will be looking for you to be super woman, but deep down they want to help and they aren’t not supporting you on purpose. When in doubt, go back to #3.
- Every cesarean recovery is different.
Every recovery will come with its own set of new challenges. There’s no way to predict how quickly or slowly you’re going to feel yourself again. What may have taken you 3 days post cesarean last time, may take you weeks this time around. You may have developed an infection last time, but this time around it is like smooth sailing. You just never know. Take your time. Be gentle with yourself. Push yourself, but get more rest than you think you need. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure you have a support system in place. Recovering from a cesarean after having one previously (CBAC) is no joke; it is no walk in the park and it is by no means an easy way out. You need to take time and let yourself heal. Surround yourself with people who you can talk to and will support you. Whether that is your family, your friends, a postpartum doula, or all of them… You deserve support, probably more than ever before!
Jessica Dill is the owner of Special Dilliveries, LLC (www.specialdilliveries.com) and resides in the tiny town of Burlington, Indiana with her husband (Rob), 5 children (too many to name), dog (Timber), cats(Tali and Al), and slew of chickens.