Recovery from Rein’s cesarean birth has been most humbling. While I know my body is healing beautifully, it has not been an easy journey. There has been much pain—physically and emotionally—but day by day, I’m getting there. It’s not linear—there are days I feel I have taken two steps backward but at 2.5 weeks post partum, I’m able to walk several miles, lift my 3 year old, and do light weight work.
In this post, I’ll outline the first two weeks of my recovery.
The first 12 Hours:
Holy helplessness. For the first few hours after the c-section, feeling slowly returned to my lower body as the spinal wore off. It was the weirdest feeling—wiggling my toes, sliding my feet up and down to ensure my brain and body were able to speak to each other. Adjusting in bed was nearly impossible, especially while holding a baby. My core had just been sliced open, after all. I still had a catheter in (which was nice not having to pee).
My night nurse that first evening was actually my neighbors sister. Even in my shocked, drugged, low blood state, I recognized her even though I had only briefly met her a couple of times. She was wonderful.
Reinger was officially born at 1:56 PM on June 30th. They wanted me to get up out of bed around 12 hours post surgery. So, sometime in the wee hours of morning, my nurse came to help me out of bed. Oiy. It was painful and awkward. I moved my legs, rolled my ankles and flexed my feet. I felt a little light headed—from blood loss and laying down for so long. After I delivered Leif, I was up and walking right away—nursing and bouncing him around my hospital room. This, however, was a completely different ordeal. I literally thought I would never be able to walk on my own again. She assured me I was moving really well. Ha.
I believe the catheter was left at this point—a relief since the idea of getting up to pee sounded awful. They would take it out in the morning and I would attempt to pee on my own for the first time.
Someone came to check my vitals every 4 hours and I had things on my legs making sure I didn’t get a clot (this was one of my main paranoia’s with a c-section).
First 24 Hours:
My catheter was removed, I peed on my own and took a shower! I got to take the bandage off my incision and I was surprised at how anti-climatic it was. It didn’t look nearly as crazy as I expected it to. The shower felt amazing.
I was encouraged to move often but getting out of bed was a huge ordeal. Sitting up or adjusting in bed remained difficult and required I pull myself up using the side railings.
Like a vaginal birth, I had bleeding and was wearing the super sexy mesh panties and GIANT pad/diaper. I had a few clots that came out of me that made my eyes open wide, like “OH my stars, I just birthed another baby…” I remember bleeding a lot with Leif, a vaginal birth, but these clots seemed odd. I saved them in the bathroom for the nurse to check. She did and assured me they were normal. Wowza.
A pediatrician came and checked Rein and an OB came to check me. All was well with both of us but the OB was very apologetic for such a difficult ordeal. She said she’d heard what a shock it was to everyone and how difficult the “extraction” (getting baby out) had been. She said I was very lucky I didn’t have a vertical incision.
The gas in my shoulder remained a problem and if I didn’t stay super on top of the meds, the pain was a serious issue. Thankfully, I had a nursing staff serving me. I was on oxycodone and 800 mg of ibrophen to manage the pain.
I started “exercising”—walking around the hospital wing very slowly and stretching my shoulders and chest to try to help move the gas out of me. It was the most painful aspect so far.
Not pooping is so horrible for me. I’m a very regular person so even a day (really a morning) without pooping is uncomfortable for me. With my hip surgery for a torn labrum in 2014, this was one of my least favorite side effects of the drugs. Bring on the stool softeners!
I hired a doula to encapsulate my placenta. She was amazing. She came to the hospital and picked it up after Rein was born and then brought it back the next day in perfect little capsules, along with an amazing smoothie with all sorts of berries, fats, and of course some raw placenta. Placenta has so many amazing benefits! Most mammals consume theirs after they give birth—including many humans. I’m not messing around with my physical and emotional recovery—placenta is a part of my healing regimen.
Eating: VegaOne Bar, Kombucha, Tofu and bean wraps, fruit, dates, probiotics, coconut water, Vega protein powder with almond milk.
We came home. I asked if I could walk home—they advised against it. “But I walked here in labor, surely I can walk the 4 blocks home!” Mmmm… walking to the car actually took a good deal of energy. The blood loss and the fact that my tummy had been sliced open may have played into this. Leif came home with us—which I desperately needed but it was A LOT to manage and I was in a good deal of pain. There were many tears that first night. I ended up in the guest bed with Rein because getting off our floor bed was NOT an option. I called for Josh when I needed meds. Getting off the bed was excruciating.
Proud Big Brother
Leif went to the beach house with my family so I could rest and he could party. The next few days, although painful, were pretty calm. Rein pretty much slept, ate and pooped. There was very little crying. People brought us food and I pretty much stayed in pajamas.
I began my belly breathing exercises- literally, just breathing into my belly. Believe it or not, this was difficult. I couldn’t find my belly! This was such a strange feeling as I’ve always been pretty connected with my core—as a gymnast, a yogi, a runner, my relationship with my core has allowed me to stay strong and healthy. Now, its been sliced and pulled apart. When I touch my belly, it looks like a water bed—not the strong belly I’m used to.
I attempted a “walk” with my grandma. I suggested we go around the block. She suggested we walk to the end of our block and back. Boy, am I glad she was there to tame my overly ambitious athlete. We walked to the end of the block and back and I felt like I’d ran a marathon. I was exhausted. I’m sure this mostly had to do with all the blood I lost. It was an eye opener and a reminder I need to continue my nutrient dense diet to rebuild my blood.
I believe this is the first day I pooped. It was scary. Like really scary. I held my incision for dear life. I was pretty sure my guts were going to fall out. Thankfully, they did not! It still took a few days to really get my bowels semi regular again but that initial poop—although horrifying—was such a relief!
I started walking more… a little bit more each day. First around the block, then twice around the block and slowly built up to a slow 3 miles—carrying Rein in the ergo, pushing Leif in the stroller, and holding Sochi’s leash.
My amazing chiropractor did a home visit to check up on me and Rein. She adjusted both of us. Interestingly, she told me when both had a very chemically tone about us. I have been smelling a very potent chemical scent every time I bend forward. Each time I’ve been adjusted since the birth, the smell becomes almost overwhelming. My body is detoxing to the max. I don’t even want to think about everything that was put into my body during the cesarean but I’m thankful its on its way out.
Each day is different. Some days, I’m exhausted and my incision hurts like hell. I ordered a
belly wrap to help me feel “put together” but found that it was a little too intense so I sent it back and just received this one today! Much better.
I built up to a 5.5 mile walk with Rein strapped on me and also some light lifting. It feels good to move and to work my muscles but also quite exhausting. On days I over-do it, I feel awful by the evening—my incision hurts and I remind myself of all the trauma inside my body as well. My core is literally stitched back together and trying to heal.
Protein and fat have been my main focus. I get plenty of healthy carbs with all the fruit and whole grains I eat. I have been using Vega products along with Arebonne and adding extra servings of protein to my smoothies along with heaping spoons of nut and seed butters. Yum.
Smoothies: I’m drinking a daily morning smoothie—loaded with protein, fruit, greens, super greens like chlorella and spirulina, extra iron, placenta, cocoa nibs, and topped with an immune boosting cereal blend.
We have an incredible community that has made sure that we are well nourished. Having delicious nourishing food delivered to our home has allowed me to rest more while ensuring we all get the nutrients we need! Curries, sauces, salads—its all been amazing.
I’ve always enjoyed the use of essential oils but I finally decided it was time to get a bit more serious about them for my physical and emotional healing and also to bring some extra “calm” to my family. My neighbor sells Young Living oils and has used them herself to help with autoimmune healing. I reached out to her and ended up purchasing a starter kit as well as signing up to be a distributor! I’ve been diffusing calming oils like lavender in our home as well as applying oils to my incision and to both the boys in the evening to help them relax.
Many women are anemic post partum. I lost an above average amount of blood so I’m really focusing on rebuilding my blood. In addition to iron rich plant foods, I’m also supplementing with iron. I continue to take B12 and Vitamin D. I’m taking about 8000 IU of Vitamin D per day. I’m also taking a daily probiotic by Garden of Life. I was clear minded enough to take all my supplements to the hospital so I started all of them, except for the iron, right away. I’m sure my between the antibiotics I received during labor along with the trauma to my system, my gut flora got a whoopin’. I’ve also been adding L-glutamine to my smoothies for some gut rebuilding.
Pain Management: The first 24 ish hours I think I received meds via an IV. After that, I was on a steady course of oxycodene and Ibprophen for the first 6 ish days. After that, I switched to 800 mg of Ibrophen every 6 hours. I really feel it if I miss a dose. My body is quick to remind me that it is still dealing with the trauma of cesarean. I hardly took anything after my hip surgery but this is sooooo different. The pain feels so much deeper and layered.
We’re three weeks post partum today. I was running by this point after Leif’s birth. There is no way in heck my body is ready for running at this point. I intend to wait until the 6 week mark before making the decision to start running again or to wait even longer to allow for more healing and strength in my core. I also plan to start a Beach Body program at 6 weeks—probably 21 Day Fix to ease back into it. I’ll be hosting a challenge group for those interested in joining the fun!
Taking it slow these days