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In April 2021 I welcomed my second daughter, Aurora, by caesarean section. I’ve previously shared Aurora’s birth story. This was my second caesarean and as my first was an emergency, and my second an elective that was brought forward 2-3 weeks, I decided to keep a diary of my pain and symptoms for the first 28 days in the hope it may help someone.
Hopefully this recovery diary will help another plus size Mum, to know what is normal, and perhaps what kind of preparations to make ready for the recovery period if you’re going to have a c-section yourself, or want to support someone who is.
For me I found that my second c-section was easier to recover from than the first, possibly because of the emergency element to my first one. My second c-section was booked two days before it happened, and while I was first up on the day due to some blood pressure issues from pre-eclampsia it was all very straightforward and much less dramatic.
Before you continue with reading this diary I just want to make it clear that this is for informational purposes, and that you shouldn’t ever compare yourself to others, especially strangers on the internet! I’m not medically qualified, and I’m definitely not an expect on c-sections just because I’ve had two! I do try to be helpful, and am always happy to chat too.
If you require a different level of painkillers than what I mention here, that’s great, either way. Trust your body to tell you what it needs, and definitely keep on top of those painkillers, especially in the early days and the first two weeks in particular.
A c-section is a large operation, as you’ll know if you’re reading this after you’ve had it, but by following all the recommendations you’ll be back on your feet in no time – even if it doesn’t feel like it in the first few days!
My plus size c-section recovery diary:
Our daughter was delivered at 9:20am. I had a minimal blood loss, around 500ml. This is less than the average c-section and is in line with a vaginal delivery. I was really pleased when I heard this!
Cutting through the incision went well and the scar of my second c-section follows closely alone the scar of my first with just a minor difference at the ends.
I was in recovery from 10am, my daughter failed to latch, and because of Covid-19 restrictions I was kept on the recovery ward until around 12:30pm. My husband was allowed to stay at this point but left then when I was transferred to the post-natal ward.
My pain was well managed on day 1, and I felt next to no pain. At 5pm I had my catheter removed, which was simple, and was given 6 hours to pass 500ml of urine. I found this a little slow at first, but then achieved this just in time before they would have had to fit an in and out catheter.
The blood loss was quite a lot here, more than after my first c-section, and I could feel it more this time around. I expect this is because I had such a severe blood loss first time that they didn’t just stitch me up until everything had stopped. I had several checks, at my request and also as standard, and was told all was normal. There was some seeping from the wound dressing, which again did not happen after my first c-section.
I was able to move around well, once the catheter was removed. I was given two doses of oramorph.
The pain really increased on day two. The hospital took hours to dispense pain meds due to staff shortages and I wished I had packed my own ibuprofen and paracetamol in strong enough doses. I had been confident I wouldn’t have any issues to get my meds. I had one dose of oramorph because the pain had been left to build up where the meds were not delivered on time.
I was discharged at 4pm to go home with my new daughter. There was lots of seepage of the wound, which was marked by a doctor on my notes and the bandage was drawn around before discharge, to make it see if things had increased in the coming days, which they did.
Once home my pain levels were high, with some shaking, but moving around slowly helped and being able to take higher doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen without buzzing and waiting for a staff member helped get things back under control.
At this point I was breast-feeding, unsuccessfully if I’m being honest, and was absolutely exhausted. 1-2 hour bursts of sleep on and off during the day and night kept me awake. I made sure to keep up with paracetamol and ibuprofen regularly, setting alarms to help me remember. I had the maximum doses of both medications. I also found that I was able to easily go to the toilet after this c-section, probably helped by keeping my food intake very light, lots of soups and juices. I felt less sore going up and down the stairs on day 3 versus day 2.
My daughter was admitted to the NICU from Day 4, so the following 5-6 days I spent going back and forth from home to the NICU for the once daily visit we were allowed. I spent far too long sitting in a chair and this really hindered my recovery, just to be honest.
I was still very sore, especially in the morning. My milk came in today. I was taking the maximum dose of paracetamol and ibuprofen still. Lots of pulling pains when standing up today, so made sure to stand up slow, and straight, to help my body the best I could. Extra seepage from the bandage today.
The pain became more manageable here. The shaking had completely subsided. There was still pulling but less than on day 4.
I was able to stand taller on day 5 than the previous days.
Today I started to feel quite a bit better, even when waking in the morning. My blood loss increases slightly on day 6 but I felt better overall, probably linked in with my daughter recovering well in the NICU and it becoming clear that she was going to recover fast and be home within days.
I started to sweat more in the night from day 6.
I also had my wound dressing removed today, a day late because of the NICU visits, and while there were some fresh spots of blood from the scar there was no more weeping or signs of infection.
I woke up shivering, after sweating through the night. At this point I was worried that I may have an infection, and requested blood tests from my GP. They later showed that I was well physically and it was likely just a side effect of the postpartum recovery period. I had pain in the left side of my stomach, lots of pulling, and it was very painful when coughing or sneezing. Use a pillow to cover your scar!
Day 8 was a higher pain day. I felt worried that I had set my recovery back with the NICU trips and going back and forth in the car (as a passenger). I felt shivery and weak on day 8 and my scar began to hurt more. It had quite a lot of redness too. My vaginal blood loss had slowed to be similar to the final day of a period.
Turned a little bit of a corner today and was able to cut down on the paracetamol and ibuprofen here too. My scar had lots of soreness and the front of my stomach began to become very bruised by day 9. It was clear where the damage had occurred, and that there had been some bleeding under the skin as I had quite significant bruises.
I felt shivery and weak again today, felt like I’d had a bit of a set back. The vaginal blood loss started back up here and I generally felt more unwell than any of the previous 4 or 5 days.
I was exhausted on day 11. Absolutely wiped out. The bruising on the front of my stomach was very sore and I felt weak, shivering and just generally super tired. It had been an ordeal, as alongside birth my new baby had become ill and been admitted to NICU.
While Aurora was home by this day I felt like everything really caught up with me and we just spent a couple of days laying in the bed, resting, with Tom carrying out a lot of the bottle feeds to help me recover.
My breastfeeding journey stopped prematurely this time as I had to change medication and the blood pressure meds I was given were not breastfeeding friendly. However, my health was definitely more important as my blood pressure was hitting 190 at times and nothing was bringing it under control!
My scar was hurting less on day 12, my stomach was still very bruised but it became easier to sit up in bed at night, which was perfect timing as my 5-year-old started to wake up at 2am and 4am on the regular too to come and sit with the new baby during feeding time!
This was the best day of recovery by a mile! Less painkillers, around half, which my stomach was very thankful for! The bruising on the stomach had increased by day 13 but the wound was a lot less tender, less pulling and overall everything felt a lot easier on this day.
My stomach was still sore, and the wound had a little more redness on this day, but overall I continued to feel better and manage on less pain killers. At the end of the day, around 5pm, I would feel absolutely exhausted and just retire to my bed to sleep whenever I could.
I was able to become a little more mobile in myself by day 15, and found myself pottering around completing a few jobs. This wasn’t necessary, as my husband was home on shared parental leave for 6 months, but I felt better mentally for achieving this.
I spoke to my GP again as I was still feeling quite shaky, and was referred for more blood tests, again, which came back absolutely fine. No infections and no deficiencies either, just the recovery period was a little different this time and I was more shaky and sweat more in the night. I DID feel healthier and recovered a lot faster this time, so maybe that was related. I managed still on half the dose of paracetamol and ibuprofen, without feeling like I was doing my body a disservice in the process.
My wound was very very sore today, like it was in the first early days. I had a check and while it was not open it was the most painful it had been in around 7 or 8 days. I increased the paracetamol and ibuprofen as a result, and did feel better for doing so.
Broken sleep here mostly due to the discomfort in my stomach. I was still unable to lay on my side, because of the pain in the edges of my internal incision. I was more mobile though and may have caused some extra discomfort by not resting enough.
Today I felt a lot less tired and the shakiness I had on and off since birth seems to have relaxed a lot. I began to develop a chest infection here, which was not ideal, as I kept coughing all of the time which was irritating my c-section wound! I was worried that my recovery was going to be set back by this and that was my main concern.
I had to have a nap during the day, for the first time in a week, because of the exhaustion. I was able to wear a lot of my pre-pregnancy clothes from day 19, although I skipped jeans and anything that was tight on the stomach still. I also walked 2.5km on the school run on day 19, but mostly through necessity as my husband was unavailable. I was wiped out by the early evening, but I have other health conditions too and it felt more like my normal flare up than anything related to the recovery period.
Today I only had one dose of paracetamol and ibuprofen, which was great, and I didn’t feel like I needed more. I was able to do a little light cook and a few chores at home, but no vacuuming yet! This felt like a turning point in my recovery to be honest, and it continued from here on in.
My energy felt much better and overall my mood was high, I had less pain and I felt so much better. I was able to start moving around a lot more freely at home, and while I did overdo it a little and have a small bit of pulling pain in the middle of my stomach area overall it was a great day.
Visited some family today. Needed no pain killers at all I felt that good. I was exhausted by the evening, but just tiredness and not from pain.
I wore my jeans for the first time today, just maternity ones. I had some numbness in my stomach by the end of the day, which was also a little painful in other areas, and I definitely overdid it. I didn’t try jeans again for a few weeks at least, and did not regret not bothering sooner.
By day 23 I was down to two paracetamol and one ibuprofen once a day, usually upon waking, just to take the edge off everything.
A very unremarkable day. No real pain. No pulling. No problems really at all. I felt almost back to normal here and it continued on from this day.
Again, another unremarkable day. My wound was looking really good, with no sign of any redness on this date. I felt really well mentally, had lots more energy and was completely off the painkillers.
Much the same as the previous days with lots more energy, no need for painkillers and being able to move around more freely.
Day 27 and 28:
I felt like I was able to lift my daughter more freely, with no pulling sensations, and overall it was the beginning of feeling like I was truly recovered.
And there you have it…! 28 days of recovery from my c-section as a plus size Mum. I felt that I recovered much better from this c-section than the 1st one.
I am now 7 months post c-section and I have been working out for over 4 months now. I can complete 5km walks with no issues, lift both my daughters, total weight 35kg, and overall I just feel 100% recovered. My recovery was much smoother for this c-section versus the first
I would even go as far as to say that I am much healthier than I was before my pregnancy. Either of them! I have ‘bounced back’ this time, and while I did have the initial fear of ‘what have I done?’ in the first 2 or 3 days post c-section IF I didn’t have health problems, and difficult pregnancies, I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Hopefully something here has been useful to you, and if you want to chat further about c-section recovery, or anything at all, you can reach out to me on Instagram. I’m always happy to have a chat really and I am online most days!