A Caesarean section, or C-section, is unlike other surgical procedures. It involves a physician making an incision in the abdominal wall to deliver a baby. Usually, a physician will decide on this method if problems arise during childbirth. However, some pregnant women may also elect to undergo the procedure for distinct, individual reasons. These include wanting to deliver a baby on a specific date, or having a complicated vaginal delivery in the past.
Recovering from a C-section involves proper planning and specialised care. Here are a few tips to help new mothers fully recover from the procedure.
Recognising the After-effects of Undergoing a C-section Procedure
The area where the physician makes an incision can start feeling pain after the anaesthesia wears off. You will also have vaginal discharge due to the uterus lining shedding. Also known as lochia, it’ll appear red during the early stages, then turn a yellow colour.
Separately, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) states that the procedure triggers a loss of blood and qi (vital energy) and that can be detrimental to your health. “The pelvic floor muscles and vagina can stretch to accommodate delivery, and have a natural healing process. Even if an incision is needed during birthing, or the perineal tears naturally, the wound will be smaller than C-section, hence it’ll be less detrimental.
“In comparison, a C-section poses similar risks as other major surgeries, such as blood loss, infection, blood clots, injury to the bowel or bladder, and reactions to anaesthesia. It’ll require external intervention, which will weaken the body system and structure. Therefore, the healing process may be longer,” explains TCM physician Lim Sock Ling.
Actions that Promote Recovery from a C-section Procedure
You may be hospitalised for three to four days after a procedure. During that time, doctors will give you medications to reduce any discomfort. You’ll also have a catheter – a thin, flexible tube – in your bladder for up to 12 hours, and your surgical wound will also be dressed for 24 hours.
Tend to the surgical wound
When you return home, you must gently clean the wound with mild soap and water, then dry it after; you’ll have to do this daily. You should wear loose, comfortable clothes and cotton underwear. The use of paracetamol and ibuprofen can also help suppress pain while you’re nursing your newborn.
Be intentional with food consumption
Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables, and drinking two litres of water daily can prevent constipation. On the contrary, you should refrain from consuming chilled beverages and cooling foods as they can slow down recovery.
You should also avoid spicy, pungent, sugary and oily foods, as well as broccoli and chocolate to prevent bloating and diarrhoea.
Use herbal formulations and ingredients
The consumption of aged ginger or zhui feng so hup pills (追风苏合丸) expels Wind that provokes chills and aches. Dried ginger helps alleviate gastric pain by Warming the Stomach. Gastric pain stems from Yang (active energy) Deficiency or lack of Heat in the body. Baked ginger relieves pain and lessen bleeding, while ginger peel brings down swelling and ease water retention.
A herbal tea that’s steeped with ingredients like longan (long yan, 龙眼), jujube (hong zao,红枣) and Astragalus (huang qi, 黄芪) nourishes blood and invigorates qi.
Si shen soup (四神汤) aids in strengthening the Spleen and removing Dampness, while back-strengthening soup (杜仲补腰汤) rejuvenates the Kidneys and strengthens the tendons and bones.
Bu zhong yi qi soup (补中益气汤) energises the body and activates Spleen qi, while dang gui bu xue soup (当归补血汤) encourages the nourishment and transportation of blood through the body.
Engage in regular exercise
Gentle exercises can help hasten recovery from a C-section procedure. Specifically, pelvic floor exercises can treat weakened pelvic floor muscles that cause urinary incontinence.
Some women may be susceptible to diastasis recti (DR), a condition that can lead to tissue bulging in the abdominal wall and herniation of the abdominal viscera. To prevent DR, your physician will recommend that you walk more, as it can lower your risk of blood clots, and heart or blood vessel disorders.
Ultimately, you must understand that your body will experience hormonal, psychological and metabolic changes after a C-section procedure. As such, it’s advocated for you to adhere religiously to a confinement regimen. Work closely with a clinical physician to determine habits that are suitable for your lifestyle. You should also speak to a TCM practitioner to help you identify ingredients or formulations that are personalised to your body constitution.