More than 25% of women in the UK now give birth by caesarean, according to NHS figures, compared to around just 8% at the end of the 1970s. Women who give birth this way usually find they need additional assistance in the wake of the procedure. But how can dads support caesarean recovery?
A C-section is major abdominal surgery, so planning and prioritising recovery is important. Every woman’s recovery will be different and timeframes can vary. However, remember that whether they’ve had a planned or emergency C-section, healing and recovery is likely to be a longer process than if they had a vaginal birth.
We’ve put together ten ways dads can support recovery from a c-section.
How to support caesarean recovery
1. Get in the driving seat
Using the foot pedals of a car requires significant involvement of the lower abdomen, so partners will have to take control of transportation for a while.
You can prepare your family vehicle by attaching a maternity seatbelt adjuster, so the belt doesn’t sit on their wound. It is also worth remembering that someone should only return to driving when they feel completely okay with it following surgery. Even if they are technically able to do so legally beforehand.
2. Get ready to lift
Women who’ve had C-sections should avoid lifting heavy objects, as this can cause back and abdominal problems in the future. You can support caesarean recovery with simple acts like carrying a baby in a car seat, or taking a buggy up or down steps.
3. Do their share of the chores
If you’re used to splitting the chores in your house, you might need to take over their section too for a while. Doing the school run, walking the dog, lugging the hoover around and other exertions could be just too much until she has recovered.
4. Cook the right things
A new mum’s body needs fresh, nutrient-rich food to recover, and plenty of soluble fibre (fruits, vegetables and wholegrains) to help with bowel movements. Research and plan these meals ahead in order to support caesarean recovery.
5. Keep an eye on her pain
Make sure the new mum keeps on top of pain relief, and remembers to take any other medication to ease discomfort.
6. Seek help if necessary
If the new mum has increasing pain, any redness, weeping, oozing or an odour from the wound area, or if she’s low in mood with no improvement, contact her midwife or maternity assessment centre for advice.
7. Make daily self-care non-negotiable
It’s vital new mums have time for at least half an hour of daily self-care – however they choose to do that. For example, it could be a walk when they feel well enough, or an uninterrupted chat with a friend. Make sure that she has this opportunity (and take time for yourself too if it is possible while she recovers).
8. Let her sleep
After surgery, sleep is also vital to support recovery. Experts suggest sleeping on the back, as it puts the least amount of pressure on the wound. Help her get comfortable, and help her with laying down and getting up.
9. Listen to her
If women have experienced an unplanned C-section, they may have additional feelings to work through, so let her talk through her emotions and be there for support.
10. Enjoy your time together
This is a precious time to bond and spend time together. If this means putting off visitors or social events for a few weeks, then don’t be afraid to refuse visits and invitations. Enjoy being together as a unit, if you can, to support caesarean recovery.