postpartum survival guide for a c-section delivery | olive june

postpartum survival guide for a c-section delivery

i went into labor and delivery with no plan. i prayed a lot about the upcoming arrival of our son and wanted to go in open-minded and as calm as possible. i told myself that whatever happened, i would try my best to accomplish/overcome with my absolute greatest effort. nothing could have prepared me for the experience {both the good and the bad}. it was a long and intense labor and although having a c-section wasn't ideal for me, it was definitely best for the situation i was in... i haven't decided if i am going to share parks' birth story yet {as some parts were very traumatic for me} but i am definitely becoming more open to the idea as the weeks go on... 

the actual c-section went well {and although the pressure felt like an elephant was on my abdomen} the pain was absolutely nothing {nothing} like the pain i had been experiencing for hours. the moment i saw him for the first time was the best moment of my life. a healthy babe was the result and that is truly all that mattered to me. 
my hospital stay was both exciting {everyone was so in love with baby boy/there were so many special moments} but it was also difficult because the recovery felt so foreign to my body.  i didn't know what was going on and so everything seemed scary and dramatic. if i have to have one in the future, i will know what and how to deal with the different processes in the hospital {although i feel like i stayed pretty calm and positive- i had a lot of patience in the middle of the night on literally no sleep while trying to feed him and kept telling myself, 'thank you God- i don't know where this patience is coming from... but i can feel you here with me'} plus, the love i felt for parks was so strong that i couldn't get frustrated at him. it was all very unknown. from trying to position my body for feeding, not being able to pick him up/change his diaper, walk around, shower - everything required lots of help. therefore, going home was also frightening in many ways. prior to his birth, i pictured myself being recovered in less than a week and being able to move freely to take care of our son, but this wouldn't be the case. however, overall the first two weeks went very well ... so i wanted to compile a list of things that helped me to hopefully encourage others who find themselves in the same situation. i hope these things help you as much as they helped me and although it seems like the pain will last forever, it truly gets better every day.  it seems scary and impossible but i promise- you can do it! i tried to tell myself that it wouldn't last long and to savor every moment...
{those newborn snuggles can be the best medicine of all!}

my survival kit:
nursing: friends have told me if you can commit to the first six weeks you'll make it. i know it's not for everyone, but i am adamant about wanting to breastfeed. giving him organic and nutritious milk is very important to me. although parks has a great latch, the first week was very hard {because he kept losing a large amount of weight} and the second week brought an uncomfortable infection {which i am still overcoming} however, we discovered an amazing lactation consultant and things are gradually getting better. i am trying to stay positive and hope that things will continue to improve. so many people called and sent messages of encouragement, which was so helpful. if you plan to breastfeed, i recommend purchasing the my brest friend pillow {totally life-changing}, coconut oil, and lanolin
limiting visitors: again, this isn't how i envisioned life after his arrival but sadly, we had to limit the amount of visitors that came to the hospital and to our home after... and everyone has been so supportive and understanding. my focus was getting him to feed/gain his weight back {along with recovering from the surgery/overcoming my infection} so we weren't able to have a lot of people over. a few friends are planning to come this week and more next week... i am thankful for all of their messages, gifts, cards, letters, and prayers. the first two weeks just required a lot of rest, skin to skin, and doctors appointments - so coordinating visitors was difficult. parks can't wait to meet them soon!! 

mom: my mom stayed for the first two weeks and came back late last night for the next ten days. i have mentioned it on here before but her help was extraordinary... she is so loving, calm, and helpful. she cleaned, cooked, did laundry, took baby every morning so i could rest, gave him baths... she was just the biggest help. she even went out and got my favorite junk food for the snow day we had when he was seven days old {a tradition for us!} and most of all, parks james loves hanging out with her...
rock 'n play: we received the rock 'n play by fisher-price as a gift and it's wonderful! it swings during the day and provides a great place for baby to sleep at night. he also has a bassinet in our room but seems to prefer the rock 'n play. 

take a few minutes to yourself: i know this is probably impossible if you have older kids at home but if it is your first baby and people are there to help, i recommend taking a few minutes every now and then to do something you love - read a book, blog :), take a small walk, listen to music, watch your favorite show, enjoy a cup of coffee. in the end, it makes me feel rejuvenated and more capable of conquering the next few hours. having a baby {and carrying one} tends to cause us to forget who we are a little bit and a few minutes of 'normal hobbies or activity' can go a long way!  
camelbak water bottle: i used this during labor {a must in my opinion!} and have loved it during the recovery process as well. because of the way it's designed, you can be hands-free and drink lots of water at the same time! i get thirsty the second i begin nursing, so it's been so helpful to have by me at all times. 

a daily shower: it seems like common sense but i found that the day can get away from you quickly... make time for a daily shower and i promise you will feel a million times better! my family bought me some lavender l'occitane and had it waiting in a 'mom/baby' area in our loft {so cute} the lavender is perfect and so relaxing right now. 
naps: he's such a great sleeper and i am trying to take advantage of resting when he's sleeping. although i don't do it every time, i noticed a huge different on the days that i took a nap and the days that i didn't. 
diaper caddy: i put together a diaper caddy and it has been so helpful!! we live in a two-story home and this has helped to keep everything organized and together as we transition from one place in the house to another. i purchased the small bins at target and placed the following in them: diapers, wipes, burp clothes, desitin, nursing pads, journal, lanolin, medications, baby socks/mittens, thermometer, changing pad, pacifiers.
light candles: my mom started to light candles during the first week and it created a really comforting and relaxing atmosphere for me. 
house cleaners: although i would love to have professionals, we don't at this point. however, my family spent about six hours cleaning our house before we arrived home - and it was the perfect gesture. when we arrived home, the whole house felt so clean - especially sinking into our clean bed after five days in the hospital. they all put on my vintage aprons and had a 'cleaning party' - my dad wore one of my straw beach hats and they took photos. so funny. {although i couldn't look at the photo in the hospital- laughing and coughing were the two things that hurt the most!} 
{i started a collection after studying abroad in 2006}

swaddle blankets: parks loves to be swaddled and because of his size {he's a big boy} there are two swaddle brands that i recommend - halo sleepsack swaddles and blankets and beyond {under $15 at home goods/marshall's and so warm/soft} the velcro helps to keep those strong hands in and helps to keep him peacefully sleeping. i also love the aden + anais swaddle blankets - especially for skin to skin time. i put about three-four around him and he seems so content.  
compress the area: my parents picked up some speciality underwear for c-sections at destination maternity {the doctor in the hospital recommended these} they provided more support and stability around my abdomen where the incision is, allowing for more mobility and less pain. a pillow near you is also ideal for any chance that you may cough or sneeze- squeeze it close to your incision to help with the pain. 

lots of ice and fiber: both a life-savor!! without a lot of details- incorporate them both- a lot. 
essential oils: our newborn photographer, tiffany, gave me a very thoughtful goodie bag of oils that have been so helpful! i am a huge believer in the use of oils anyway {and used them during labor} but have found that using them over the past few weeks has really helped to calm anxiety, soothe emotions, support restful sleep, give me more energy and i believe they have even helped to support my immune system. 
my mother and father-in-law sent us flowers, helped clean, cooked us dinners and treated me to a mani/pedi sunday {felt so good- although i missed him}- but all so incredible. 
facetime: having a baby has made me extremely homesick for the people i grew up with/my close family and friends in the midwest. i miss them all very much and have loved keeping in touch via FaceTime. it seems to make everything a little bit easier. 
a supportive husband: he's been the BEST. i am not the best 'delegator' but he's gone above and beyond to help me- so thankful for this. 

thoughtful gestures: people have truly gone above and beyond to make us feel so loved. it's been humbling. from family to friends to neighbors to my 8th grade students/co-workers - the love has been constant and so sincere. you have all inspired me. i am going to try my hardest to pass on the kindness to others. i can't tell you how wonderful it is to discover a package, a note, a gift card, a message from someone during this time- it's helped so much. so many sweet people in our lives. 
-my students rock- 
this student is a ray of sunshine!!
some of my students sent the SWEETEST little letters- melted my heart.

my classroom door- so sweet 
we loved receiving this beach towel and adorable card from my sister-in-law's mom 
{people are so kind and generous!!}
i truly hope these help you if you experience a c-section 
if you had a c-section, what helped you most?
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  1. A year out from my c-section... make sure and massage the incision/scar tissue after clearance from a doctor. Around my little one's one year birthday, I began feeling a small pain in and around the incision. Though I had meant to massage the area after the six weeks clearance, I got too involved with being mommy and didn't think much of it. I googled problems with scar tissue and I am now massaging the area at night and hope i am not too far down the road to reverse or help any problems with the scar. Congrats on motherhood

  2. The diaper caddy and water bottle is a must! I didn't have a c-section so I can't completely relate but recovery was still so foreign and I remember crying that first night because he was crying to eat and my husband wasn't waking up to it and I couldn't get up to grab him from the bassinet because I hurt so bad. Parks is so adorable, congratulations again!

  3. I didn't have a c-section, but I did tear and have to get stitches, so I feel your pain about not being able to move about freely like I had imagined. I just had to keep telling myself that I was doing the best I could physically do, and that my little babe felt loved even though I couldn't do all I wanted to.

  4. While my husband and I are not parents yet...we hope to be soon and reading your journey thus far while caring for a newborn has been been a blessing for me to read. I hope you are healing more and more every day and I know you are cherishing this time with sweet baby Parks. It's amazing how people come alongside of us during seasons like this and what a difference it makes!!