Abdominal Birth Mind & Body Preparation Tips

As we head into the 3rd trimester (!) of our surrogacy pregnancy, I’m starting to think about what planning for an abdominal birth (both before and postnatally) entails.

Emiliana Hall

As we head into the 3rd trimester (!) of our surrogacy pregnancy, I’m starting to think about what planning for an abdominal birth (both before and postnatally) entails. It is major surgery after all, and I want to make sure both my mind and body are prepared.

I asked my lovely TMBG Instagram following who have birthed their baby’s abdominally what helped them both in the run up to the birth and in their healing and recovery period too.

There were 100’s of responses, and these are the key themes about what they said…

Preparing for a c-section abdominal birth:

  • Massage calendula & lavender oil (small amounts diluted with carrier oil) onto the skin where the incision will be made daily from around 35 weeks to soften and nourish the area for more effective healing and less scaring. Calendula oil has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

  • Invest in your mind health in the lead up to the day. Hypnobirthing, mindfulness, whatever it means for you. But don’t push the event to the back of your mind as it is a huge process to go through. Knowledge is power and any fear should be faced into before hand so you can enjoy your big day of meeting your baby for the very first time. The Mindful Birth Group have birth prep courses specifically for abdominal birthers, the online audio course is just £10! Or you can opt for a more personalised 1:1 or group course. See your options here: Preparing for Abdominal Birth.

  • Learn how to breathe and use visualisation for relaxation– it will be invaluable for the spinal block and during postnatal discomfort too

  • Keep hydrated as always, but especially in the lead up to major surgery

  • Do things you love to do- this will enable your body to create endorphins which are your natural pain reliever. Endorphins are many more times powerful than morphine, so it’s well worth investing time in doing all of the good stuff. You can’t produce endorphins if you are producing adrenaline which is likely if you are feeling anxious or worried

  • Eat nourishing foods that will not make you feel sluggish. Stock up the freezer for the lead up to the birth when you might not feel like shopping/prepping much. The Pregnancy Food Company make delicious and nutritious snacks to keep you going!

Post c-section abdominal birth healing

  • Rest, rest REST! Over 300 mamas responding to my Instagram story question said rest is vital, crucial and non-negotiable for a smooth recovery

  • But also keep moving intermittently. Listen to your body, but don’t stay laying down for hours on end. Do a little walk up and down the corridor, to the kitchen, around the block when you’re feeling ready. But keeping mobile, even if very slowly to start with as soon as the spinal block has worn off

  • After the birth, you’ll be able to go and have a shower and use the loo. Bearing in mind you may not have eaten for a while (for a planned c-section you are asked to fast in the morning, and for an emergency c section you may have been in labour for quite a while without feeling like eating), it’s a really good idea to have a high energy snack before you attempt to get up and walk around to avoid feeling faint

  • Invest in special c-section knickers- they are quite pricey but they are breathable round the incision and much more supportive than regular knickers. You’ll need to wear them for up to 4 weeks after the birth even if your wound is healing well. John Lewis sell them here. You could opt for less expensive regular high waisted knickers, just be aware of the breathability of the fabric

  • Air your wound whenever possible and follow the advice of your midwife on how to keep it clean to avoid infection

  • Loose and soft clothing like oversized nightshirts are best for not rubbing against your wound. Button down shirts are great for allowing easy access for skin to skin or breastfeeding

  • These high waisted, soft bamboo trousers were also recommended

  • Slider sandals rather than flip flops post-op in the hospital too, as a c-section mama has to wear long over the knee compression socks to prevent blood clotting

  • Vaginal bleeding will still happen for around 2-6 weeks after a c-section as your body will be getting rid of lochia (caused by the placenta coming away from the womb). When it comes to maternity pads, the bigger the better for comfort! The bleeding should ease off sooner if you take things slowly

  • Think about how you move- When lying in bed, and moving from your back to your side, bend your knees so your feet are flat on the bed, raise your hips up off the bed and rotate your hips to the side. Then move your shoulders and lower yourself down. When you want to sit up from a lying down position, push yourself up with your hands rather than your hips. These simple techniques will help to protect the incision from any strain.

    Take a look at our video on how to get out of bed safely here.

  • Drink LOTS of peppermint tea to help with the trapped wind that unfortunately comes with the surgery

  • This Jo Farren healing tea was also recommended

  • Avoid gas-inducing food and drinks such as beans, lentils and carbonated drinks

  • Eat nourishing and fibrous foods to keep your energy up and bowels moving. If having a planned c-section, you won’t have eaten for a while so make sure you have something delicious ready to devour as soon as you feel able to!

  • Take lactulose if you need to- Meds can clog you up a bit so will help with the first poos, but always check with the pharmacist/your midwife before taking

  • Arnica tablets or cream can help with bruising. Arnica is a natural remedy, more info can be found here

  • If you are not against taking them for any reason…lots of c-section mamas said to take the painkillers! This will always be a very personal choice, and an informed decision is key, but they may help you to feel more comfortable and have a more positive postnatal experience

  • Probiotics can really help to replenish your gut bacteria if you have needed to take antibiotics at any point during the birth. They can be ordered on Amazon Prime for same or next day delivery here

  • Know that the nights can be harder than the days because you can get stiff from not moving around as much

  • Again, endorphins are your best pain-relieving friend so make your bedroom calm, cosy and comforting. Feeling safe and loved can go a very long way for postnatal comfort and emotional recovery!

  • Bathing with epsom salts can really help with aches and pains, but you won’t be able to do this until the wound has fully healed a few weeks after the birth. But when you can, add tea tree oil and a little milk (to help the oil mix into the water) to the salt bath for the ultimate healing experience. Add candles of course!

  • Invest in a good pregnancy pillow- it’ll really help to support you in bed instead of having lots of little cushions to organise into a comfy position. The BBHUGME is expensive but well worth it if you can stretch to it.

  • After a few months once the incision is fully healed, seeing an osteopath was recommended for a treatment called functional technique, or scar tissue release. It is a very light touch massage on the scar to release tension caused by the hardened tissue. You can read more here

  • Simple Bio Oil was the most recommended oil to rub onto the scar to soften and fade it. Frankincense and lavender oil blend for an even more natural treatment.

  • Last but not least, make sure your partner or whoever is going to be with you postnatally knows all of the above too. You will have just given birth AND gone through major surgery, so having a reliable helping hand to get all of these things ready and accessible is very very important mama! Postnatal Doulas are worth their weight in gold for post c-section support. You can read more about TMBG doula services here

  • Follow Clare Bourne physio on Instagram for brilliant recovery tips

Update: You can read Leo’s planned abdominal birth story here.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the blog!

Up next

Part 15: New Year, New (and final!) Trimester!

Just as the film started Em said that baby was moving a lot! I put my hand on her stomach and felt the biggest kick! This was the first time I had felt him and was quite a special moment.

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