I was lucky that I knew in advance that I was going to have my caesarean section, so I had some time to prepare and a revised birth plan. That said, I’m not sure that I really understood how difficult it might be, or the practical ways that my life could be made a little easier. I’m not talking about pain management, as I found paracetamol and ibuprofen more than sufficient, but I mean the psychological effects of being housebound for a little while, and the practical things I didn’t consider.
So here is what I learned in those first few weeks. I hope it might help you prepare a little better and also support a new mum who is in that position.
Get a supply of generic painkillers in the house
There’s nothing worse than being caught out and not being able to get to the shop. Obviously discuss your pain relief and care with your doctor and midwife, but if its bog standard over the counter stuff, stash a few boxes away.
Set up stations around the house for all your essentials
I live in a three story house and there’s no way I was going up and down the stairs every time I needed a nappy or a snack. Little bags or boxes in the rooms you spend the most time is essential – nappies, wipes, nappy sacks for baby, but also think about water and snacks for you. I had stashes next to the sofa and our bed. Trust me, if you are lying in bed feeding a baby at 3am in the morning, you are likely to get thirsty and hungry. Same if you find yourself trapped under a sleeping baby.
Get a TV streaming service
Whether it’s Netflix, Amazon Prime or NOW TV, this is one of my all-time recommendations for new parents. You’re going to keep some peculiar hours as it is, if you’re trapped in the house you need to be able to watch some good TV. Make the most of it now while baby has no idea what you’re watching and before you’re tied to watching CBeebies.
Ask for / Buy Practical Gifts
Between the dressing and stitches, plus lack of time, fancy body lotions may be the last thing on your mind. Don’t be afraid to ask for practical gifts, or to buy them. One of my favourite was a thermos mug. I could make a massive vat of tea and it would stay hot for an hour or two. I’ve written a whole post on practical gifts for new mums.
Sort out your shopping
I thought I was very organised and booked online shopping deliveries so I wouldn’t have to carry bags. I didn’t consider what I would do at the other end when they arrived and had to lift them and move them about to unpack. Ensure that you time deliveries so someone else is there and you can supervise them unpacking for you.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask callers to stop at the shops before they come over if you need milk, bread etc.
Make a list of chores
Let’s be honest, housework can go to hell in handcart in those first few weeks, but there will be some basics that need doing. I wrote down a list of everything that needed doing so my partner could tick things off, or that visitors could refer to if they offered (only a few did but it was appreciated). If you’re a visitor ask what you could do to help and mean it. Chores could include loading the washing machine, doing the washing up, mopping the kitchen floor, wiping down kitchen surfaces, washing bottles or emptying the rubbish bin. My view is that if they’re not happy to help in a small way, then they’re probably not priority visitors and they can wait till you’re feeling more yourself. The best gift I had post birth was my mother in law standing at the ironing board for two hours.
Find ways to stay in touch
I was very lucky to have a great bunch of mummy friends who had babies around the same time, and while we were all up against it in those early weeks, we kept in touch through WhatsApp. It was a great way of reaching out in those early hours when I was frazzled, or had a question about my section scar feeling weird.
Get out when you can
You might not be able to drive or walk far in those early days, but if you can walk to the shop and get out for a coffee with someone else if they can drive and do pram duty, you will feel better for it. My first venture was a walk to the shop at the end of the street with my partner, and I felt king of world!
Have you had a caesarean section? What tips would you give for managing in those first few weeks?