Assisting Mothers After A Caesarean Section

Midwives and postnatal sisters encounter moms who have had caesarean births more frequently nowadays, than those who have had natural deliveries in private clinics. These moms have special needs in the time of recovery and should not be neglected, no matter one’s thoughts about the necessity, or not, of the C-section.

Women who have had a C-section have had a baby and major abdominal surgery. A planned (elective) C-section is usually done ten to fourteen days before the 16-week sonar-indicated due date. Despite overwhelming evidence showing how harmful this ‘iatrogenic prematurity’ can be for Baby – and Mom. Midwives and nursing professionals can already play a vital role by encouraging women to courageously and patiently face the last days and weeks of pregnancy.

Balanced advice and helping couples interpret medical ‘speak’ is both a professional and supportive responsibility. A lack of awareness of choices might make couples think they have no option but to agree to an early C-section.

Post C-section Strategies

Nonetheless, it’s a midwife or maternity nurse’s ethical responsibility to advise women compassionately and professionally after a C-section and these hints should help you to help them:

  • Assist her to get up as soon as possible, although she should mostly rest in bed for the first day. However, when she is resting, ensure that she does ankle and calf exercises to minimise thrombosis risk.
  • Mom might not have contemplated that her C-section does not mean automatic avoidance of pain. It simply comes after birth in the form of wound pain and abdominal discomfort. This can contribute to increased emotionality and fatigue, which might make the third day blues just that much darker.
  • Suggest taking a homeopathic anxiety remedy for some safe, natural help. C-section moms are also a little more prone to postnatal depression. It would be good for the family to be aware of this and be on the lookout for symptoms – to find help in good time.
  • Her Caesarean wound can be cleaned with a gentle disinfectant containing Calendula, rather than harsh disinfectants which irritate surrounding skin.
  • Two of the easiest breastfeeding positions after C-section are feeding while lying down tummy-to-tummy, and holding Baby in the ‘rugby ball’ position when sitting. She will often face more latching issues than a mom does after natural birth, so give her a special hand as she is likely to feel more vulnerable than most.
  • Remember that breastfeeding often gets off to a more challenging start, due to her post-op pain medication, and even more so if she had a general anaesthetic. You and she will need patience and perseverance, but there is no reason why breastfeeding cannot end up just as successful as after natural birth, with the correct help.
  • A surprising number of moms feel a sense of loss after giving birth by C-section. Encouraging her to talk about her feelings with you can be very therapeutic for her. Creating a non-judgemental space is also vital to help Mom open up about the way she feels.
  • Explain to her that she should not start an exercise programme for a full 6 weeks to ensure that there is total healing first, with ‘knitting’ of all the layers of the skin and the uterus. A moderate neighbourhood walk after the first two weeks is, however, quite in order and should actually be encouraged if Mom feels well enough.

Other Top Tips To Help C-section Moms

  • There will usually be a paediatrician on hand to check baby straight after a Caesarean section, but if all is well with mom and baby, skin-to-skin care right there in the theatre is to be encouraged and supported.
  • Encourage Dad to go along to the baby unit if Baby needs special observation for a few hours. Much as Mom needs her partner, Baby needs someone familiar even more, and will recognise Dad’s voice and experience less anxiety.
  • Baby should preferably be cared for in the mother’s postnatal room, so that she doesn’t miss out on all the early adjustment, unless Baby is in need of emergency care. In this way, Mom will become more confident in handling her baby and will be less liable to postnatal blues.
  • Be aware that dedicated infant massage after caesarean birth is very useful to help babies overcome a range of minor, and even some major associated problems. For example poor growth, colic, restlessness and tactile defensiveness. Make sure you share this with parents.
  • Get Mom to interlace her fingers over her C-section wound when coughing, sneezing and laughing to help prevent pain.
  • Suggest she buys a pair of slippers with a small heel before the birth as this makes walking upright after a C-section far easier.