Let’s face it moms, from the moment we discover we are pregnant, we have this idea in our heads of how wonderful having a natural birth will be with no drugs, maybe even at home submerged in your own bathtub, and creating the most beautiful and perfect environment to bring this amazing new life into the world.
Now, fast forward to the moment you find out you are expecting twins (or more), and that idealistic vision you had just created for you and your one baby has now suddenly changed. Now you are facing the real possibility that you may have to forget about all your home-birth plans and you may even be told you will have to have a cesarean or C-section delivery.
Having twins can definitely take its toll on your body and then add this to having a C-section surgery, and you will soon discover that it may be more challenging and take longer to recover than you initially thought! Here are some tips to help you speed up your recovery process so you can spend less time sore and tired, and more time bonding with your new twin babies:
1. Walk, walk, walk
You will be encouraged to get out of bed at least a couple of times the day after your surgery – or even on the day of surgery – to walk. Don’t try getting up by yourself. The nurse should be at your side the first few times you do get up and walk. In the meantime, get the blood going in your legs by wiggling your feet, rotating your ankles, and moving and stretching your legs.
Personally, I have had three C-section deliveries and I can remember that even walking to the bathroom seemed almost impossible at first, but moving around is important for your recovery, so you need to push through so you will be ready to take on caring for infant twins. It will also help your circulation and make it much less likely that you develop blood clots. What’s more is that it will make your bowels less sluggish, which will help you feel a whole lot more comfortable a lot sooner. For these reasons, you’ll be encouraged to walk each day. Try to take your walks a short time after you’ve taken pain medication – when you’re likely to feel more comfortable.
2. Get plenty of rest
A C-section is major surgery. Just like with any other surgery, your body needs time to heal afterward. Expect to stay in the hospital for three to four days after your delivery (longer if there are complications), and give your body up to six weeks to fully heal. This is where you need to enlist lots of family and friends to help you with chores and laundry when you and your babies come home. I am sure you have already heard people say, “Rest when your babies rest!” This is so important, especially if you are recovering from surgery. The household “to-do’s” can wait, and even taking just a few moments to rest throughout the day can be extremely helpful for you and your postpartum body.
3. Manage your pain
Ask your doctor what pain medicines you can take, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Depending on the level of your discomfort, the doctor might prescribe a pain reliever or advise you to take an over-the-counter NSAID (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). In addition to pain medicine, you can use a heating pad to relieve discomfort at the surgical site. In any case, don’t be shy about asking your nurse for more medication if you’re uncomfortable. You don’t need to suffer in silence, and the longer you wait to ask for the medication you need, the harder it will be to manage your pain.
4. Listen to your body
Be sure to take extra care getting around while you heal, so avoid going up and down the stairs as much as possible. A good idea is to keep everything you need close by, such as diaper changing supplies close to you so that you don’t have to get up too often. It’s also important not to lift anything heavier than your babies and certainly do not try to hold both of them in their car seats at one time, until you feel stronger, because you do not want to risk tearing your incision. Ask for help as much as possible and whenever you have to sneeze or cough, hold your abdomen to protect the incision site. It could take up to eight weeks for you to get back into your normal routine. Ask your doctor when it’s okay to exercise, go back to work, and drive. Also, wait to have sex or use tampons until your doctor gives you the green light.
5. Wear loose-fitting clothing and underwear
You’ll want to avoid putting too much pressure on your healing scar, so it’s best to either wear underwear a size bigger or you can buy special knickers that fit over the area to make it more comfortable while you are healing.
6. Beware of a good laugh
Laughing normally feels good, but not necessarily post a C-section. You can be more comfortable when laughing, coughing, and even pooping if you hold a pillow to your abdomen. This will help your core muscles from aching. Anything that puts pressure on the abdominal area will probably be painful at first, but you’ll feel a bit better day by day. Be sure to use your hands or a pillow to support your incision when you cough, sneeze, or laugh.
7. When to call the doctor
You’ll probably feel some soreness in the incision and you may have bleeding or discharge for up to six weeks after the C-section. That’s normal. But the following symptoms warrant a call to your doctor because they could signal an infection:
- redness, swelling, or pus oozing from the incision site
- pain around the site
- fever of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
- bad-smelling discharge from the vagina
- heavy vaginal bleeding
- redness or swelling in your leg
- difficulty with breathing
- chest pain
- pain in your breasts
Also call your doctor if you feel sad and your mood never seems to lift, especially if you have thoughts of hurting your babies. Finally, if you have a friend or sibling who went through a C-section, try not to compare yourself to her. Every woman’s experience with this surgery is different. Focus on your own healing right now and give your body the time it needs to get back to normal.
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