Postpartum Healing Tips After a Cesarean Birth

Postpartum Healing Tips After a Cesarean Birth

Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC

If you give birth by cesarean section, it will be the first of many times you will have to use your best multitasking mom super-powers. You will be recovering from both childbirth and major abdominal surgery. 

According to recent statistics, about 32% of babies are born via cesarean in the USA. Let’s talk about how things will be different for a cesarean mom and how you can help your body heal while you discover who your new baby is.

Your Surgical Incision

  • The incision for a cesarean is about 4-6 inches long. 
  • It will be closed with either staples, stitches, or surgical glue. 
  • The incision will be covered with a bandage. 
  • The bandage is removed after 24-48 hours.
  • You can usually shower after the bandage is removed.
  • If your doctor used staples or stitches, they will be removed by your doctor or a nurse. This will happen either before you leave the hospital or when you go in for your first postpartum check-up.  
  • If surgical glue was used, it will peel off on its own.
  • The nurse will give you instructions on how to care for your incision after you are discharged from the hospital. 
  • You will want to keep the incision clean and dry.
  • Many moms worry that their incision can easily come apart. Don’t worry. Normal activities will not cause your incision to separate.

Recovering From Anesthesia

Most cesarean births are performed under epidural or spinal anesthesia. Your lower body will remain numb for an hour or two after the surgery is completed. This will provide relief from the post-surgical pain in the first couple of hours. 

General anesthesia may be required if a cesarean is an extreme emergency or if the epidural or spinal does not provide adequate anesthesia. 

There will be a period of time after general anesthesia during which you will feel sleepy and out of it. You may not have strong memories of this time period.

Post-surgical Pain 

A cesarean is major surgery and will be accompanied by significant pain. Fortunately, you will be given pain-relieving drugs.

For the first 12-24 hours, most doctors will order an IV pump that delivers narcotic pain medication in small doses every few minutes. There is usually also an option to give yourself more of the medicine with a little button you can push. This is called Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA).

The alternative to a PCA pump is to get injections of narcotics every few hours. After the first 12-24 hours, most moms are able to control their pain with oral pain medication. 

It is safe for your baby to breastfeed when you are taking these medications.

Postpartum Bleeding

The vaginal bleeding after a cesarean is similar to what is experienced a vaginal birth. [I would put a link here to the article about postpartum after vaginal birth – or you could just cut and paste the section on bleeding and put it here]. 

The nurses will need to check to make sure your uterus is staying firm. If your uterus starts to get soft, you could hemorrhage, so they may need to massage it. This is more painful after you have had a cesarean because of the incisions on your abdomen and uterus. Doing slow, deep breathing can help you through the period of discomfort.

Your uterus will contract the same way a mom who has a vaginal birth does. These after-pains can be very intense. The pain medications that you are taking for your incisional pain will also help with after-pain discomfort.

Antibiotics

You may be given antibiotics during the surgery to reduce the risk of infection. Antibiotics can increase the risk of developing a yeast infection. Discuss with your doctor whether you should take a probiotic to help decrease this risk.

Bladder and Bowels

Before your c-section, they will put a urinary catheter in your bladder.  This is to keep it drained during the surgery, which decreases the risk of it getting nicked. 

Having a catheter increases the risk of developing a urinary tract infection. Drinking lots of water and emptying your bladder regularly will help minimize this risk.

Call your doctor if you develop pain or burning with urination. 

Emotions

Any birth is a tremendously emotional experience. Cesarean moms may feel even more emotional.

  • Moms may be grieving the loss of their expected birth experience.
  • Having surgery may have been a scary experience.
  • A more extended healing period can be frustrating.

Moms who give birth by cesarean section do experience postpartum depression more often than moms who give birth vaginally. The rate is even higher if they stop breastfeeding before twelve weeks.

  • Give your body the time it needs to heal from the surgery.
  • Accept offers of help.
  • Seek out help with breastfeeding problems. Do this as soon as possible.
  • Focus on taking care of yourself and your baby.
  • Be patient with yourself. 
  • Find and join groups for postpartum moms. The hospital where you gave birth should be able to let you know what is available in your community.
  • Keeping a journal can help you process your birth and postpartum experiences. 
  • If you are feeling sad, overwhelmed, or disconnected from your baby, reach out to your healthcare provider. She can help you find a counselor who specializes in postpartum depression.

Breastfeeding Challenges

  • A cesarean usually means a delay in doing skin-to-skin with your baby and getting started breastfeeding. 
  • It will be more challenging to find comfortable positions when breastfeeding.
    • Football hold keeps the baby away from your tender incision.
  • Avail yourself of all the help you can get in the hospital from the nurses and lactation consultants.
  • Give yourself extra time to get comfortable before breastfeeding. Use pillows to help support the baby.

A Lactation Consultant’s Best Tips to Increase Your Milk Supply

Warning Signs of When You Should Call Your Doctor

  • Fever higher than 100.4°F 
  • Worsening pain at the site of your incision
  • Swelling or redness from the incision site
  • Incision oozing pus 
  • Vaginal discharge has a bad smell  
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Pain, swelling or redness in your leg
  • Chest pain, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Nutrition For Recovery:

Feed your body nutritious food so it can heal from the surgery. Specifically phytonutrients, vitamin C and protien are super important to healing postpartum both from vaginal and cesarean birth. Milk Dust created both Bump Dust and Milk Dust with additional nutrients to help with recovery after birth. They provide superfoods like Spirulina and Chlorella provide extra antioxidants and phytonutrients to help your body heal. 

  • Protein
  • Vitamin C
  • Whole grains
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • High-fiber foods can help minimize the common post-surgery problem of constipation

Smoothies full of fresh and frozen fruit are amazing for getting in a lot of nutrients quickly. Milk Dust has a great recipe book that will give you some healthy smoothie ideas for your postpartum recovery. They also have some more nutrient-dense recipes here on their blog as well. The new Milk Dust Bars are also full of nutrient-dense ingredients that are perfect for on-the-go recovery.

Spinach Lactation Muffins Recipe

Peanut Butter Lactation Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Lactation Bars

Exercise

It takes at least six weeks to three months to recover from a surgical birth. 

At first, just getting out of bed may feel like a workout. Take your time. Make sure you stand up nice and straight. 

Taking walks up and down the hospital halls is important to keep your lungs clear, your GI system moving and your blood flowing.

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Continuing leisurely walks around your neighborhood is an excellent way to get some mild exercise. Ask your doctor when you can start other forms of exercise. They will often want you to wait until your six-week check-up before you engage in any vigorous activity

Get As Much Rest As You Can

Let’s be honest, as a new mom, you will not be getting long stretches of sleep. But adequate rest is essential for healing.

  • Make naps a priority. 
  • Even if you don’t consider yourself a napper, you should lay down and close your eyes. 

In the beginning, being a new mom and taking care of a baby will be harder after a cesarean section. But if you take care of yourself, you will recover and be able to focus on things like mastering bath time and speed diapering.

Milk Supply Busters – Foods and Habits That Decrease Milk Supply

Milk Supply Busters – Foods and Habits That Decrease Milk Supply

Just as there are numerous ways to increase milk supply while breastfeeding, there are also numerous ways to decrease your milk supply. Sometimes new mothers don’t realize that some of their habits of foods they are consuming can have a negative impact on how much milk their body is producing.

We believe nutrition is the foundation of health and milk supply, and we’ve also discussed some of the best ways to increase milk supply, but it is also important to educate new mommies on the things can decrease milk supply.

Top Foods To Increase Milk Supply

First, we’ll go over some foods that can have a negative affect on milk supply, then we’ll also discuss some habits that can also reduce the milk a mother is producing. It is also important to note that just because a food or habit has shown a decrease in some women, doesn’t mean it will for you as well. Everyone has a different genetic make up, and it is important to monitor your milk supply with any new diet, foods and habits.

Foods that can decrease milk supply:

There is actually very limited research on foods and herbs that can decrease milk supply. Even the popular peppermint and sage herbs that have been reported to reduce milk supply have very little scientific proof. Because we believe in combining scientific research with anecdotal research, we have a fairly short list of foods and habits.

Sage:

Sage is used to help breastfeeding mothers wean and reduce milk supply. There are no scientific studies proving that sage reduces milk production, though there are many women who report that sage helps with weaning. If using Sage to help with the weaning process, the best results are in high dosages in pill form or possibly tea. Simply cooking with sage is usually no where near enough to affect milk supply.

Parsley:

Parsley is another herb that has no research to back thoughts that it will reduce milk supply. It is very difficult to eat enough parsley day after day to reduce your milk supply, but if you are taking a supplement of some kind with higher dosages of parsley, you can have a negative affect. Make sure to check any herbal teas, powders or supplements you have to ensure there isn’t a lot of parsley.

Oregano:

This herb has no scientific backing on its affect on milk supply, though because moms have reported it being successful in reducing milk supply, we find it worth mentioning. Oregano used in cooking and recipes doesn’t have the potency that supplements do. If you enjoy eating oregano, it most likely will have no effect on your milk supply, but a more concentrated tea or herbal supplement may have negative affects.

Lifestyle habits that reduce milk supply:

Smoking cigarettes:

Cigarettes have been shown to have a negative affect on oxytocin levels, which is what stimulates the let down affect. If you let down isn’t working properly, your breasts will not empty. If breasts don’t fully empty, this signals a lower demand and thus a lower supply need.

Sudafed (anti-congestion medicine):

Sudafed, and other similar anti-congestion medications for colds and allergies can negatively affect your milk supply. Basically, because these medications help dry up your runny nose, they can also dry up your milk supply.

Birth Control:

Most doctors suggest breastfeeding mamas a very low dosage birth control pill in an attempt to reduce any affect on milk supply. Because birth control pills change hormonal levels, and often times increase estrogen, this can affect your milk production, which is based on your chemical and hormone levels.

Pregnancy:

This one is fairly obvious, but because becoming pregnant while breastfeeding affects your estrogen levels, it can also affect your milk supply levels. Most times, a new mother’s body adjusts to being pregnant and breastfeeding, but sometimes there is a drop in supply as hormones change and fluctuate.

Low-nutrient diet:

This is a topic that we feel very strongly about. Many mothers eat plenty of calories, but not enough nutrients. A breastfeeding mother needs extra nutrients to function and give to baby, and when these are not present, milk supply can drop, and a mother may need to turn to formula, even though they are eating plenty of calories. Of course calorie consumption can have an affect on milk supply, but most mothers have stored plenty of fat and water during pregnancy to provide plenty of milk for baby. BUT, some nutrients need to be digested and absorbed into the blood stream to nourish mama and baby. Obtaining enough nutrients can be difficult as a new mother, which is why we created Milk Dust as a solution to nourishment and milk supply. Make sure to use code: LACTATION for 10% off your first order!

Excessive exercise:

This is a fairly rare case for many breastfeeding mamas, but if a new mother is training for a marathon or very intense fitness competition, the stress and extensive training could decrease oxytocin levels and reduce milk supply.

Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration:

Hydration and electrolyte balance directly affect milk supply because breast milk is largely water. In order to produce enough breast milk, your hydration levels need to be normal so there is enough extra liquid to pump into your breasts. If you electrolytes are off, taking some potassium and magnesium can really help (which are also in Milk Dust!).

Most mothers want to avoid anything that may harm their milk supply. Even though the herbs mentioned have no scientific backing, some may feel it is better to just be safe and avoid them all together. Some mothers are more sensitive to herbs than others, so even though you may only consume a tiny bit, your body may have a larger reaction. It is important to remember to take care of yourself by properly nourishing your body to ensure you can support another living life.

Boobie Brownies For Increased Milk Supply

Boobie Brownies For Increased Milk Supply

Lactation brownies are awesome snacks or treats for breastfeeding mamas to increase milk supply and satisfy sugar cravings. But, many of the lactation brownies out there are full of sugar and fat, which is not good for losing any extra baby weight.

Of course a delicious brownie every so often is more than acceptable, but what if you could have a delicious brownie for breakfast every morning? Basically, this brownie recipe is so healthy, low-sugar, low-carb and nutrient-dense, you can have it anytime you want. You can even eat the entire recipe for around 350 calories if you really wanted to. These are perfect for those times when you just can’t stop eating the brownies.

Because there’s a scoop of our Milk Dust in this recipe, there is added protein, which helps make these brownies super filling as well. The protein will actually help keep you from filling hungry again soon after eating these, as well as limiting how many you can actually eat without feeling stuffed. Feeling full is one of the fastest ways to get rid of a sugar craving.

Go ahead, eat these up and reap the benefits to your milk supply and nutrition.

Healthy Lactation Brownies for Milk Supply:

Healthy Lactation Brownies

These lactation brownies are high in protein, low in sugar and carbs and amazing for milk supply.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup Almond Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 scoop Milk Dust
  • 1/4 cup Baking Stevia or granulated sweetener of choice
  • 2 tbsp Stevia honey blend or low-sugar honey
  • 4 Egg whites
  • 1 Ripe banana or 1/4 cup applesauce

Instructions
 

  • Mix dry ingredients in large bowl and wet in another small bowl. Add wet to dry and mix well. Pour into greased 8×10 pan and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes!! 
    lactation brownies increase milk supply
Keyword lactation, lactation brownies, lactation recipe

Give these lactation brownies a try for your next chocolate craving. Pair them with a drizzle of peanut butter, a dollop of whipped cream or a little vanilla ice cream between two, and it will be the best dessert you can have every night! Give our Milk Dust a try at 10% off with Code: LACTATION