These tips are intended for the first 2 weeks postpartum after a cesarean
I planned on a vaginal birth at a stand alone midwifery center. I didn’t feel comfortable giving birth at home, but also didn't feel comfortable giving birth at a hospital. The midwifery center seemed like the best of both worlds since it felt like a home, yet was only two blocks from a hospital should I need medical assistance or want pain management.
Long story short, I ended up transferring to the hospital and gave birth via cesarean. Planned or unplanned, cesareans are major surgeries and recovery support is definitely in order!
From one mama to another, I'm writing these tips with much love and care for you and your new little one! Take it easy and be soooo patient and kind with yourself and your precious body as it heals.
One of the most common causes of UTIs (urinary tract infections) among women is giving birth in a hospital where catheters are used (unless a woman gives birth vaginally with no pain meds).
Once the catheter is removed from the urethra, chances of getting a UTI are high. Cleanliness is of utmost importance for the next couple weeks after giving birth. Every time you go pee or poo, always wipe from front to back and use a peri-bottle with warm water to cleanse. I specifically had to use the peri-bottle with warm (almost hot water) during every urination otherwise it would really sting.
Anyways, I still got a UTI! My very first one. I began drinking unsweetened, pure cranberry juice diluted with water.
That wasn’t quite doing the trick so I began taking a cranberry + D-Mannose capsule daily for about 2 weeks.
In a nutshell, cranberry extract works by inhibiting the bacteria from “climbing” up the urethra, into the bladder and ultimately the kidneys which can be very dangerous. You want to avoid it at all costs!
Whether you have a UTI or just want to avoid one, I recommend taking cranberry extract during the first two weeks postpartum.
Arnica oil (infusion of the Arnica flowers inside a carrier oil) is one of the best natural remedies to use topically post surgery to reduce pain, swelling and bruising. Gently rub this on your abdomen, avoiding the cesarean bandage and wound, as you never want to place Arnica directly on broken skin.
As soon as I got home from the hospital, I used arnica oil twice daily for 2 weeks and it really helped reduce the tenderness and speed up healing in my abdomen.
I purchased arnica oil from Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy. (You can order online)
The next 3 tips help to gently detoxify the body via elimination through the lymph system and kidneys. You'll be peeing a lot as your body flushes out the excess fluids no longer needed.
Edema, or water weight, is beyond terrible after a cesarean. The hospital pumps you full of hydrating fluid via IV which is necessary, but once you leave the hospital, you are so swollen you’ll barely recognize your feet (any many other body parts!). As you can see below, my normally very narrow feet tripled in width!
Dandelion leaf is a gentle diuretic and bitter plant, providing liver support, detoxification and is highly nutritious. The bitter quality of the dandelion greens promotes healthy digestion and increases elimination of toxins and excess hormones through the liver and kidneys. As a gentle diuretic, it's useful for bloating / water retention during PMS, bladder or kidney problems and provides a good source of potassium, iron, calcium, vitamins A,B,C, and D and trace minerals.
Dandelion leaf can be taken by capsule or tincture, but I recommend drinking it as a fresh infusion in this case.
You can find fresh dandelion leaf at most health food markets or farmer’s markets in the spring and summer. Add a whole bundle of dandelion (rinse well) to a gallon of water in a pot, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the stove and strain. Drink over the next 2 -3 days and dilute as necessary if the flavor is too bitter.
If fresh dandelion leaf is not available, you can purchase dry dandelion leaf and prepare as you would loose leaf tea. 1 tsp to 8 oz water. Steep for at least 5 minutes before drinking 2 cups a day.
Elevate Your Feet
Every time you’re laying down (resting, naps and night), prop up your feet with at least 3 pillows. You want your legs to be elevated above your heart. This helps eliminate / flush out excess water from your body (you’ll be peeing a lot!).
Lymphatic Dry Brushing
My mom, a former massage therapist, saw how bad my edema was post surgery and offered to give me a full body lymphatic dry brushing session. It was amazing and helped my body flush out excess water and toxins like you wouldn’t believe! Dry brushing, dandelion leaf diuretic tea and elevating my feet were the trifecta to get excess fluids out.
Have a family member or friend give you a dry brushing session. See image above and "How to Dry-Brush" instructions below, both courtesy of Lisa Levitt Gainsley, CLT, and brush in the direction of the arrows in order to help the lymph flow in the correct direction.
To learn more, check out Lisa’s book, The Book of Lymph: Self-Care Practices to Enhance Immunity, Health and Beauty.
I only did this twice (2 days in a row) a few days after I got home from the hospital and it helped immensely.
I hope these tips help you or a loved one who just had or will be having a c-section delivery. Any questions? Just ask!