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Caesarean birth

Self-care after a caesarean when you have a disability

The first few months after your baby is born are a crucial time for self-care. I’m going to bust one very important myth. Once the baby is born, it’s not just a quick and easy transition back. Don’t forget your body has just been through a pretty traumatic experience and now it has to readapt to a new normal. I’ve been pregnant twice and through my experiences and conversations with medical professionals, I’ve learnt that it can take a woman’s body between 8 to 12 months transition back, physically and hormonally. My doctor even warned me that your threshold for pain is lowered until at least six months postpartum. That’s why I’ve always been so careful about my early exercise plans, because I know my body hasn’t become as firm as it was. Muscles have to become so pliable during pregnancy to accommodate the extra weight, that it takes awhile for that to go back to normal.

As new mums, there is often an unwritten expectation that we just get on with things. Sometimes, in the chaos that is having a new baby, we can completely forget to take care of ourselves. I’m going to give you an example of what not to do and why self-care is so important as a new mum. After the birth of my second child, I was only able to breastfeed for a month, due to a infection in my c-section site. When my son was three months old, both he and his sister got very sick with colds. I then caught it as well. Of course, I didn’t have time to be sick, I had to take care of my kids so, I battled through it. I will be the first to admit that I gave very little thought to my own health.

Self-care after a caesarean when you have a disability -

I was beyond exhausted, because when a child under four months is sick you have to be very vigilant and my two year old was also up at night with congestion. I really wasn’t getting much sleep. My husband had gone back to work and I was doing everything myself, just months after invasive Caesarean surgery, and the infection that followed. It had been three months since I stopped breastfeeding, but because I was so rundown, I somehow then got mastitis. It made me very sick. It was then I learnt from the doctor that you’re susceptible to mastitis for up to 8 months, even after you stop breastfeeding. This totally blew my mind. After the drama of two sick kids and the debilitating nature of mastitis, I realised I needed to take better care of myself. If you as the mum, are struggling and don’t take some time for yourself, it often, without meaning to, have an affect on your baby. They are very in tune with your mood and will react accordingly.

So, schedule in some me time whenever you can for your own sanity but also for your baby. It can be anything from taking half an hour to sit and read a book or going out to meet some friends. You just need to do something for yourself each day to make you feel a little bit more human. You need to remember to be a person outside of being a mum. There is nothing wrong with that and it will do wonders for your mental health. Don’t forget, in those first few months, you’re going to be sleep-deprived and physically drained, but you can’t forget about the things that keep you going.

For me, working with my husband to get an hour to myself for exercise every day, saved me. It allowed me to refocus and pump some positive endorphins through my body. It doesn’t have to be a physically demanding outlet though. In those first few months, I couldn’t do a lot of exercise anyway, so the little thing I did, was sit outside in the sun, with a coffee and a book and read for half an hour. My husband would take the kids and I wouldn’t have to be involved. It just allowed me to breathe, centre myself. I would come back re-energised and ready to deal with the highs and lows of being a mum in a positive way. It greatly improved my patience and resilience, because I was giving myself a chance to just relax.

Being a mother is so stressful. I wish I could tell you that part gets easier, but there’s always going to be something to worry about when you have children. The way you get through it is through mental fortitude and in order to achieve that, you need to take care of yourself. All of us need a coping mechanism of some kind. No matter what it is, find something that is just for you, talk to your partner and your support networks and make sure you take that time every day. Those first few months are hard for everyone, but when you added a disability on top of it, it can be so overwhelming. Doubt is the biggest knife to the heart as a parent, and living with a disability means your whole life is about fear and worry about how it impacts your capabilities. Add in children and it’s a whole other level of self-doubt. In those early months, it’s even more important to take care of yourself. I know I keep repeating that phase, but I know many of us need that reminder sometimes. We are made to feel like we have to do everything as mums, but we’re human too and we need to be our best selves, in order to be the best kind of parent. So never forget to give yourself a break, everyday and take time for you.

Author: Deaire Pecora

Brand Ambassador for disAbility Maternity Care

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