Having a caesarean section requires more recovery time for women than vaginal births, but there are a few things you can do to ease the process.
A study published in June 2017 claimed that chewing gum could help aid faster recovery of a woman’s digestive system.
The study, printed in the ‘Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine’ found that, out of 3,000 women who had c-sections, those who chewed gum immediately after surgery (three times a day) felt better.
But according to Janet Fyle, the Royal College of Midwives’ professional policy advisor, this isn’t a popular research-backed method that is routinely used in the UK.
She said there are many other options women can try.
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It might seem like the last thing you want to do, but Fyle said the sooner a woman gets up and begins to walk around, the sooner the blood will “kick into action”.
“We gradually get women to get up and eat, to get the bowels and digestive system moving,” she explained.
“After six hours, the woman should be walked around her bed and should sit up in her bed too.”
“The immediate period after a c-section is about comfort and pain relief,” said Fyle.
“This is very important. We can’t let the woman be in pain because if she is in pain she won’t want to move. But if there is pain control, then the woman is more likely to sit up quicker and move around.”
NHS Choices states once you have returned home from the hospital, paracetamol is recommended for mild pain, co-codamol for moderate pain, and a combination of co-codamol and ibuprofen for more severe pain.
“You may also have some vaginal bleeding,” NHS Choices states. “Use sanitary pads rather than tampons to reduce the risk of spreading infection into the vagina.”
“The most important thing we do as midwives is encourage the women to gradually eat and have sips of water,” said Fyle.
“You can eat and drink as soon as you feel hungry or thirsty. This, again, speeds up the process of getting the digestive system functioning properly.”
Helping a mother transition to becoming a parent is important, even if they’re struggling with pain.
“Every woman will need support and reassurance,” said Fyle.
“They need to rest and have a lot of help with the baby while also feeling like they’re involved.”
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NHS Choices advises you should gently clean and dry the wound every day, wear loose clothing and cotton underwear, take painkillers and watch out for signs of infection.
Women usually stay in hospital for three to four days after having a c-section. Once you’ve returned home, you should try to stay mobile.
“Do gentle activities, such as going for a daily walk, while you’re recovering to reduce the risk of blood clots,” NHS Choices states. “Be careful not to over exert yourself.
“You should be able to hold and carry your baby once you get home. But you may not be able to do some activities straight away, such as driving, exercising, carrying anything heavier than your baby or having sex.
“Only start to do these things again when you feel able to do so and don’t find them uncomfortable. This may not be for six weeks.”
If you’re home from the hospital and experiencing symptoms such as severe pain, leaking urine, vaginal bleeding or a swollen wound, make sure you seek medical advice straight away.
If you’re unsure when it’s safe to start returning to your normal activities, ask your GP at your six-week postnatal check.
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