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Common fears of mamas after a Cesarean birth

ByTiffany ReyesJanuary 19, 2023
woman with baby holding scar from cesarean section
Giving birth is bravery and life-changing to say the least. It is also life-threatening, with an estimated 2.8 million pregnant women dying every year during childbirth, according to estimates from a United Nations report. Mamas would of course find this scary, but with proper medical care, the risks may be lowered.
Now, what do mamas usually think about after a C-section birth?
1.) Was the C-section necessary?
Research from the World Health Organization also shows that C-section “continues to rise globally, now accounting for more than 1 in 5 (21%) of all childbirths, a number that will likely increase over the coming decade, “with nearly a third (29%) of all births likely to take place by Cesarean section by 2030.”
While a C-section is essential and life-saving, “it can put women and babies at unnecessary risk of short- and long-term health problems if performed when there is no medical need,” the WHO added.
Some mamas like *Trishia feels like she was forced to undergo a C-section to pay more. She underwent labor only to end up delivering via CS. To avoid ruminating, a mama should ask the health experts the risks and benefits that come with C-section and if it’s necessary. Other mamas also think a CS birth is the default after a previous Cesarean delivery but there is Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).
When a mother has had a previous C-section delivery, a vaginal birth may be problematic because the uterus may rupture. But VBAC can still be done if doctors determine that it is safe for both mother and child.
2.) Is it good for the baby?
Anything that’s essential for the baby’s safety, any mama would take. That’s the case of Irene* who, although hoping for a vaginal birth, wholly embraced C-section when her baby suffered from cord coil during birth.
“They needed an emergency Cesarean delivery to save him. His heartbeat was dropping every time we tried to push. I am so glad they saved my baby,” she recalls.
The baby was saved just in time, and could have ingested more meconium if the doctors were too late.
3.) Will my scars ever heal?
Your OB-Gyne is expected to check your birthing wounds (vaginal tear) or your operation scar if you gave birth via Cesarean section. The specialist will determine if the wound is healing properly or if you are prone to any infection. Your OB will also check if your uterus is properly returning to its pre-birth state, or if your pelvic muscles have regained strength.
The speed of C-section scar recovery depends on your age, skin condition and elasticity. Some OB-Gyne doctors recommend anti-scar creams while some give moisturizing lotions.
The stomach size is a different story altogether, but postpartum binders are a necessity.
If you’re worried about scar appearance, you can discuss with your doctor which cut to have, especially during a scheduled Cesarean. For emergency C-section deliveries though, a bikini cut (or horizontal) is rare.
4.) How should I move, take a bath, or answer nature's call?
Of course your scar won’t be cut open suddenly with some movements. But you do have to be careful about going up and down stairs. You must also avoid doing high-intensity activities like running, swimming, and weights for a certain time post-birth.
A binder helps you gain more control, and carrying your baby allows you to normalize your movement after a Cesarean delivery.
Post-operation, your OB-Gyne will also put Tegaderm tape, a waterproof wound dressing on your incision, to ensure the wound stays dry. Ask your doctor on when and how you can resume taking a bath ideally via shower so you don’t put much pressure on your belly. A postpartum bath soak may also be beneficial in healing perineal wounds.
You should also not force stool excretion to lessen pressure on your still wounded abdomen. You might be given laxatives to help you pass softer stools.
5.) Manas after giving birth
Most moms usually experience edema or water retention, or what we usually call manas in Filipino. This is because a woman’s body, during pregnancy, produces 50 percent more blood and body fluids for the baby’s growth. Post-birth, these fluids can’t just suddenly disappear from the body.
Your feet and legs will be swollen but please consult your OB-Gyne if anything feels and looks unusual. Doctors usually advise comfortable walks around the house to help normalize blood circulation and lessen the swelling. Start with 10 steps in your living room, gradually increasing the number of steps. OB Gynes also recommend elevating your legs to decrease edema.
6.) When is it safe to have sex again?
According to WHO, all women should also “be asked about resumption of sexual intercourse and possible dyspareunia as part of an assessment of overall well-being 2–6 weeks after birth.”
Usually C-section mamas take longer clearance time to be allowed to have sex again, so make sure you and your partner are on the same boat.
At the 6th week postpartum assessment, women must be counseled on birth spacing and family planning. You may ask your OB-Gyne for available contraceptive options, depending on your lifestyle and what is safe if you’re still breastfeeding.
New mothers must also be informed about her body’s recovery post-birth. This includes checking the gravity of postpartum hemorrhage, signs of eclampsia, low or high blood pressure, infection, and thromboembolism or blood clots.
7.) What to watch out for
Mamas who have just given birth via Cesarean delivery must watch out for fever, which could be a sign of infection. According to WHO, Cesarean section is “notably the most important risk factor for infection in the immediate postpartum period, with a five-to-20 fold increased risk compared to vaginal birth.”
Other symptoms to watch out for include:
• Excessive bleeding
• Unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge
• Intense pain in the abdomen
• Difficulty in breathing
• Swollen hands, face, extremities accompanied by headache or dizziness
Cesarean birth ain’t easy, mama! But we know you got this! With the best healthcare and informed decisions, you’ll recover in no time.
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