After a c-section, a mother has to take extra care to rest her body and her wound. There are activities to avoid, mainly to prevent aggravating the wound and ensuring that she recovers well for herself and her baby. Here are the six things to avoid!
#1 Avoid chafing/ scratching the skin around the wound
The skin around the incision may itch, feel numb or tight. Avoid scratching at the wound and wear loose clothing to avoid chafing the skin. Do not touch the wound unnecessarily to limit the likelihood of infection. Pink or purple skin is normal during healing, but red and pus is not. Look for signs of infection, such as fever, oozing and foul smell.
#2 Avoid gassy foods
Gas may build up during operation as the anesthesia slows bowel movements. The gas build-up can be uncomfortable as the intestines put pressure on the wound. Avoid gassy foods such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, green peppers and corn.
#3 Avoid constipation
Similar to gas build-up, constipation can be uncomfortable for all mothers, especially for those who have undergone a c-section. Try to take fibre-rich foods such as vegetables (but avoid the gassy ones listed above), fruits and whole wheat, and drink plenty of fluids. Engage in light exercise such as strolling in the house. You may also ask your doctor for a mild laxative or stool softener.
#4 Avoid sudden movements without support
The advice is to hold the incision site when sneezing, coughing or laughing. Avoid bending and twisting your body, or lifting heavy weights including your baby. Arrange the things you need at various changing stations that are at a comfortable height to reduce lifting movements.
#5 Avoid intensive exercise
When the incision is healing for the first few weeks after birth, you have to rest and avoid intensive exercise. Sex is also to be avoided to prevent the incision wound from splitting open. However, you can try to speed up your recovery by stretching and strolling around the house. The other exercise to strengthen your core is to pull your belly button into the spine for five seconds and then relax (also known as bracing).
#6 Avoid sitting up suddenly
Sitting up when on the bed or on the ground may put too much pressure on the incision. Instead, roll to one side and push upright with your arms. Make the movement slowly and practice bracing to keep your core safe.
A note on the scar
Care for the c-section incision is important to help it to heal better, which can take from six weeks to three months. Hygiene is important, such as cleaning the wound (if showering, let the warm water run down the wound) and then gently pat the area dry with a clean towel. Air the skin by wearing a loose top. If you need to change the dressing, be sure to do so with clean hands. Follow up with the appointments to ensure that the stitches that have not dissolved are removed.
Sometimes the scars may not heal properly, such as the formation of keloid scars and hypertrophic scars. These refer to the scar tissue extending beyond the wound, resulting in the appearance of lumps (in the case of keloid scars) or the scar tissue being thickened and raised (in the case of hypertrophic scars).
You can try the following tips to improve the healing of your scar:
– Limit sun exposure: Tanned skin can cause the scar to be more noticeable, by highlighting the skin tone darker than the surrounding skin. Avoid direct sunlight in the first year.
– Use silicone sheeting/ silicone gels: Silicone may soften and flatten scars but check with your doctor when you can start applying them.
– Take foods rich in vitamin C: Vitamin C promotes healing, reduces infection and joint pain.
– Take foods high in iron, magnesium and lean proteins: Iron helps to replenish the blood loss, and magnesium and lean proteins help to repair the tissue, muscles and skin.
– Avoid fragranced beauty products: alcohol, iodine or peroxide should also be avoided near the incision.
– Avoid swimming: stay away from swimming pool, jacuzzi and hot tub for the time being to limit infection.
Do not be afraid or feel bad to ask for help from your spouse, family and friends. Take the time to care for yourself and remember by doing so, your baby and family will benefit too!