Physical Changes and Healing After Cesarean Birth

Physical Changes and Healing After Cesarean BirthFive important things to keep in mind following a cesarean birth

The Bard wrote on a dizzying array of subjects, so many that all these centuries later, he’s still as relevant as ever, and pops up where you might least expect him.

Like C-sections, for example.
Shakespeare does just that in Macbeth. It’s the Bard’s way of circumnavigating the Witches’ earlier prophecy that “no man of woman born” may kill Macbeth, as the character of Macduff is pulled from his mother via a Cesarean birth, and this (apparently) qualifies Macduff as not being “of woman born.”
And great an author as Shakespeare was, thank goodness we’ve moved on in a few areas in the last four hundred years—and child birth is certainly one such area. Childbirth was extremely risky in Shakespeare’s day, both to the mother and child. This is largely no longer the case today, but for all that, birthing in general and Cesarean births in particular can prove to be difficult and painful.

For the first two months after your birth, your body will be undergoing a series of changes to “repair itself” after the event. Here are five things that you’ll want to keep in mind and keep an eye on as you proceed, Measure for Measure, towards a new future with your child.

1. Living with the flow (and lochia): In the first place, it’s important to briefly touch upon the lochia, and the important role it plays in the overall process of birth. Simply put, your lochia is a lining that covers your uterus during the birthing process—which makes sense. After all, while the miracle of birth is a beautiful thing, it can also involve quite a bit of stress, and you’re going to want a bit of extra protection around that sensitive area at such a sensitive and important time. However, following birth, your body comes to shed this lining, which leads to increased flow as well as bleeding. This makes sense, as the lochia consists primarily of tissue, blood, and mucus which is similar in its composition to that which is released during normal menstruation. The bleeding will be the heaviest in the first few days after the birth. In addition, you’ll want to be careful when standing or sitting, as heavier flow can occur after such an action. This is not, however, due so much to your standing or sitting as much as the overall stress release on your body flushing the blood out of your body. To protect your linens and couch, you’ll want to use plastic protective covers and use sanity pads during this period rather than tampons.

2. Hemorrhages and hemorrhoids: As stated (and as you might expect) there’s likely to be quite a bit of bleeding in your discharge after giving birth. Even so, there’s a definite difference between normal bleeding and the sort of bleeding which is a result of a hemorrhoid or a hemorrhage, the latter of which is itself often the result when the uterus does not shrink fast enough after birth. In addition, it may simply be caused by a part of the uterus not healing and continuing to bleed after the event. You may not bleed in the sort of stereotypical “rush” which is so commonly associated with hemorrhages, but rather in a slow, steady manner; in either case, if you suspect yourself of having a hemorrhage, you should endeavor to place as little stress on the area as possible and contact your doctor immediately. Hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in the general vicinity of the anus or rectal area, can be particularly painful, and you’re going to want to keep some ice on hand.

3. A specialized sitz bath: A sitz bath is a special bath which can help with the pain and overall recovery process. You’ll want to lay a clean towel against the bottom of a tub, douse it in warm water, and sit down in the towel. You’ll want to do this two to three times a day, but be sure to keep a cellphone or have someone else nearby in case you begin to bleed and become dizzy.

4. Stretch marks: These are a given no matter what your method of birth. While these may appear purple or even reddish, they will, in a few months, fade to a soft white; however, in most cases, they do not disappear completely.

5. Afterpains: One of the hallmarks of a Shakespearean play, whether it be a comedy, history, romance or tragedy, is an echo of something previous in the play occurring later on—such is the case with afterpains, contractions which occur after you’ve already given birth. Thankfully, All’s Well That Ends Wellhere, as these pains, however sharp they may be in the first 48 hours or so after giving birth, will nevertheless subside in 3-4 days. If they haven’t subsided in a week, call your doctor.

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