Friday, January 29, 2010

Post Cesarean Recovery or Abdominal Binding (Wrapping)

This post is for the host of women out there who will experience pain in their incision weeks out from their cesarean delivery... who will be discouraged thinking that "everyone else is recovering quicker" and "why do I still have such pain when I stand up?"

This post is for those women who have had multiple pregnancies and cesareans... who have muscles and skin that have lost the elasticity of a first pregnancy and will feel more pressure on the incision as it takes more time for their abdomen to regain its strength and shape.

And this post is for those women who need to hear that they are not alone in their disheartening recovery process... who need to hear that other women have experienced the same pain, discomfort and discouragement.

Three and a half weeks postpartum, I found myself still unable to stand for any length of time without feeling serious discomfort in my incision. In every other aspect, I had healed beautifully. Yet I had a fold of soft skin and muscle (and maybe some fat too), that scrunched down on my incision and pulled on it as I stood. It wasn't a big fold at all, but it was enough to keep me in constant pain when I was vertical.

In desperation and discouragement, with the words of other moms saying "I was at Walmart the week after my c/sec!" or "I was back to my exercise routine by four weeks!" echoing in my head, I searched online to find out just how long it is common to have pain in the incision area. Surprisingly I found that for most women it is two to three months. And for nearly 20% it can be as long as a year. That made me feel less like a loser. (I'm being honest here... does anyone else have their expectations crash into reality?)

Well, in my search that evening, I also began to read about abdominal binding or wrapping. Abdominal Binding:

  • puts tissues closer together so that the abdomen can heal quicker
  • holds the organs in place (since they were moved during the c/sec) so that a woman doesn't feel that "everything is about to spill out of me" sensation when she gets up or rolls over
  • supports the lower back while the abdominal muscles strengthen
  • claims to help get the body back to pre-pregnancy size quicker (don't know about that one yet!)
  • and, most importantly for my experience, supports the incision so that there is less pressure and strain on it while it heals.
I was a bit skeptical, as I always am. But I had my husband stop at a nearby maternity store and pick up a postpartum belt that very next day. While the particular belt he picked up wasn't designed specifically for c-section recovery as the ones I saw online were, I needed something quicker than shipping time would allow. (Just a note here: I wear the belt two inches lower than my incision so that I get the needed support, unlike the picture on the box where the woman wears it more on her middle.)

That was probably the smartest move I made for this recovery! Really, it has made all the difference. Like I said, I was hardly able to be vertical. With the belt, I can actually get food on the table for my kids AND do the cleanup... nothing elaborate yet though, just basic food. Being able to maneuver around is a necessity for mothers with older children... not any "exercise" yet, of course, just moving through the house.

I share all this because I can't imagine how I would have gotten through this recovery time and taken care of my five children without abdominal wrapping. I am hoping that this post will benefit someone... someone who needs the information today, or someone who finds this information in her search for postpartum help later on. By all means, take the rest you need for recovery, but use abdominal binding to make the necessary moving endurable.

Still recovering,

5 comments:

Risha said...

Thanks so much for this post! I have had 2 kids via c-section, and I will likely have any additional children the same way. Comparing the 2 that I have had, there were different things about each of them that made recovery more difficult, and I noticed that after my second I had a lot more incisional pain. My hospital provided an elastic band that was about a foot tall to wrap around my entire midsection, and both times I wore that for the first few days following, but mostly in the hospital. The height of that band made it hard to keep in place. I will definitely remember this tip for the future.

travelingstacey said...

I agree...this is very helpful. I've had two children via c-section as well, and would like to have at least one more. I have found that with my second, I recovered a little faster, but I still lack the abdominal strength that I used to have...and by a large margin. So anything that will help I'm willing to try! Thanks! I know what you mean about feeling like a loser...but trust me...you're not the only one who could barely move for a good while! I can totally relate!

pollyw said...

Amy,

I've had 5 c-sections in 7 years and have never had this suggested to me. I wish I had!

Elizabeth said...

I've had 2 c-sections myself and I've written extensively on the topic and one of the things that works so well is an abdominal binder. Those things have been life savers for women I come in contact with. It's not going to take your pain away completely, nothing can really do that but it will ease it tremendously, making your movements so much easier. Great advice ;-)

C-section binder said...


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