Welcome, readers, to the candid conversation you never knew you needed – a heart-to-heart with a Doctor Mom on the rollercoaster ride of C-section recovery. In this illuminating Q&A session, we talk to the amazing Dr Harsha Malhotra, who is an orthodontist practicing in Aligarh in her own private set-up and who is now also a new mother to a baby girl. We delve into the reality of C-section scars, sleepless nights, and superhero-level multitasking. Because let's face it, balancing life as a medical professional and a mom is a feat worthy of applause, and this doctor-mom is ready to spill the beans on the lesser-known challenges of bouncing back after a C-section. Get ready for wisdom, wit, and a prescription for laughter, as we decode the mysteries of healing after C-section! Want to know how recovery is after a C-section delivery? Hear it from a doctor who has been through it- in theory and in practice!
1.How long after C-section do you feel like yourself again?
It will take at least three months.It is a myth that it will take six weeks or so and you can start gyming and walking and all of that. No, of course it varies from woman to woman.But what I have felt from my personal experience it can take more than six weeks of time. The outer part of your C-section scar gets healed in 6 weeks, but internally it takes time.
2. How was your emotional state during the recovery in the initial month?
So it's a roller-coaster ride again! In the first month especially if you are a breastfeeding mom, you don't get time for yourself because the baby is continuously cluster feeding! And as a first time mom I sometimes felt frustrated because nobody else is understanding the problem that the baby wants to feed all the time. You have long nights and you hear the old wives tales from elders that your milk supply is not good and so the baby is feeding again and again. Being a doctor I have researched on this topic and I can tell you that babies will cluster feed. It is a phase and it gets back to normal. It has nothing to do with your milk supply. Talk to other moms and join a mom community to get the much needed help! ZactiveTM moms is a great community to join!
3.After C-section is breastfeeding really hard because of the stitches?
So for the first two days yes it can be hard! It was hard for me. In the hospital I took the help of formula plus breastfed. I knew this as a doctor so I want to tell all the moms that in the first 2 days after baby’s birth if you avoid breastfeeding, then your supply will drop. Try to feed in side lying position if stitches are uncomfortable or take the baby on your chest, but do breastfeeding. Initially 2 to 7 days due to the stitches, you are not able to sit and feed, but after seven days, you can easily go into the sideline position and breastfeed your baby whenever you want.
4. How often do you need to see your gynaecologist postpartum if you had a C-section?
You need to visit one or two times. If you have issues with scar healing or infection then there will be more visits. You need to visit one or two times. If you have issues with scar healing or infection then there will be more visits.
5. When can you start bending after C-section?
I would advise to wait a minimum 8 weeks before bending. You can bend from your knees instead of your waist! Do consult your doctor for a go ahead!
6. Any red flags that women should watch out for while they are recovering from C-section?
The one thing I want to stress here is that most women get low on immunity after a pregnancy. It can be due to hormonal fluctuations or the surgery itself! We get opportunistic to various infections , especially fungal infections in our private areas. Even though I was aware of this, I still got an infection. So we have to be careful and take precautions. Lot of new moms get this infection but are not willing to share it so I want to use this opportunity to educate everyone. Take precautions, maintain hygiene and connect with your doctor if you experience usual pain, itching or vaginal discharge. Keep a watch on your scar healing. If you feel that something doesn’t seem right see your doctor right away.
According to a Report of National Surveys of Women’s Childbearing Experiences Conducted October 2013, the finding 2 months after a C-section delivery were as such:
Up to 58% moms still complained of pain on the incision site, 51% reported itching on the scar, 48% still had some numbness and 24% moms reported infection. This needs a checkup from your doctor. Do not wait.
7.What kind of support system moms need while recovering from C-section delivery?
It's very difficult, I will be honest. I don't want to sugar coat this. You need a supportive partner first! You need moral support and emotional support too, not only physical. Eventually all the work falls on the mother, so take rest in the first 3 months so your body can heal. I had my mother and sister as well who helped me with the baby. But ultimately it's you and the baby. Everybody can morally and emotionally support you, but after some months it's you! And yes- JOIN A MOM COMMUNITY!
8.I have heard that the scar healing internally takes time. Is it true?
It definitely takes time because I just told you I am still sensitive in my navel after 3 months and the area is becoming less sensitive day by day. The scar is healed externally but internally I have seen it taking much longer. Every woman is different and if you read online it says the scar should heal in 6-8 weeks. But in my experience I feel it isn't true. Internally we take longer to heal and it's important that C-section moms follow their own body.
9.Do you find time for yourself after having a new baby?
Yes! I make reels, I do photograph myself! I don't get time, I have to make time! Because the baby needs 24 hours of attention, I can’t schedule or plan anything! I have to be flexible around the baby's schedule. Eventually we will all get time, but for now try to include your baby in your schedule. If you are making a reel, do it with your baby!
10. What's your opinion on the difference in recovery after vaginal and C-section delivery?
Both are ways to get your baby into the world. In both the delivery you will get stitches, episiotomy in vaginal and C-section scar. The internal wound due to the placenta in the uterus is the same in both the deliveries. So don’t worry about the delivery you have! I had labour induced in this delivery and I could not tolerate labour pain for more than 2 hours! I would have needed a C-section anyway as the baby was not dropping. The recovery will depend on your nutrition, health and exercise you will do postpartum. So both deliveries are different and both are amazing!
11. What was your biggest challenge while recovering from C-section?
My biggest challenge definitely was breastfeeding along with recovery. Breastfeeding itself is a challenge Plus you are facing so much pressure to breastfeed and questions related to your milk supply. Your body will heal slowly but the mental pressure is a lot. Especially if you decide to breastfeed exclusively, it is difficult. In Spite of being a doctor, I doubted myself, my milk supply. Now looking back I can say, you have to be strong, you have to be rigid about your decisions. You have to be well prepared and well researched about the facts. Do not listen to anyone, just listen to your doctor. Be prepared for unsolicited advice from everyone but learn to only trust yourself and your doctor!
12. What advice will you give for moms who are going to have a C-section or have just had a C-section?
I would say, be prepared in advance, Be prepared with baby clothes, postpartum recovery, breastfeeding everything. Be aware of vaginal infections which are very common. Breastfeeding is hard so be mentally prepared. You will have to take some precautions after your C-section surgery so be aware of those and discuss with your doctor. And yes, get help for your postpartum journey when you are pregnant! Have a nanny, househelp to help with the baby care. Nobody will manage the baby after the first few months except you! I am a working woman so I have to visit my clinic. After 40 days I started going back to clinic as my patients will not wait! So I kept a nanny to manage my child so I can continue with my career. If you are a working mom, prepare one person beforehand rather than searching after you have the baby. This is a mistake I made so would like to advice other moms to be aware. Slowly it will all be okay!
We are incredibly grateful to Dr Harsha Malhotra for coming and sharing her experience and knowledge with us! Share this article with other mothers and leave a comment for Dr Harsha to read below!