Every woman who has recently given birth needs a lot of support and containment. Although help is needed after vaginal birth, this is especially true for women who have had a Caesarean section (C-section). A caesarean section is major abdominal surgery that requires significant time to recover from physically. Your role is to support your partner, care for her, and help her care for your little one. So, here are some tips and advice on how to help your partner after a C-section in the best possible way.
During a caesarean
You can usually stay with your partner in the operating room during the procedure unless they require a general anaesthetic, which is rare. Even though you won’t be able to do anything, your presence will help her feel supported.
Don’t be afraid to show your wife or partner love and affection. She is going through a stressful time, so she will need to be supported. Being comforted will mean a lot to her. Ensuring that she is strong and brave will lift her spirits and make her feel better emotionally.
Honour her wishes
You can act as your partner’s advocate and ensure that parts of her birth plan are honoured. For example, you can ask for delayed cord clamping, as long as doing so is not detrimental to her or the baby (which would be rare). If appropriate, you could also request that her chosen playlist is played during the operation.
After the Caesarean
It can take up to six weeks to recover post-surgery, so your partner will need a lot of TLC after the procedure.
After a C-section, women can sometimes feel a sense of disappointment or failure. Your partner will need a lot of support and reassurance that she has made the right choice. Give her positive words of encouragement and show her that you understand what she is going through.
Help with matters
Your partner may have been given some injections to prevent blood clotting, which she might find difficult to do herself. If you think you can do them, offer to help her by administering the injections.
Ensure she gets some baby time
You could also ensure mum and baby get some important skin-to-skin contact safely by putting the baby on her chest and remaining close and observant. Don’t leave the baby on the mum if she’s drowsy or on the bed unsupervised, as this could be unsafe.
Make her comfortable
It is vital to ensure that your partner feels comfortable after the caesarean. Small gestures that can significantly impact her wellbeing include providing a warm flannel to wash her face and rearranging her pillows. Get her a straw so that she is comfortable to quickly drink, put her favourite tune on, or simply hold her and tell her how much you love her and are proud of her.
Get ready for the way home
Eventually, you will need to go home with your partner. Before leaving the postnatal ward, make sure you are ready for the way back. Pack all the essentials that she will need. Prepare the car by attaching a maternity seat belt adjuster so that the seat belt doesn’t sit on her wound.
For at least the first two weeks – but it could be longer, depending on individual circumstances – partners, family, and friends should do all they can to ensure that all the new mother does is rest, feed and bond with her baby. After this period, she can gently start to do things but will still need support.
Do the chores
The greatest gift you can give her is total charge of the chores around the house. You can do this by:
- Requesting that family and friends organise a ‘meal train’ for the first few weeks
- Running errands
- Doing or organising help with the school run for older children
- Keeping the house clean and/or hiring a cleaner
- Asking family/friends to do the laundry
- Arranging care and/or walkers for your pets
- Making sure she has everything she needs at hand:
- Reading glasses
- Phone & charger (plugged in!)
- Her breastfeeding/support pillow
- Pain-relief medication
- The remote
- A large drink with an extra-long straw
- Anything else she may require
- Adapting the surroundings to minimise her need to bend or twist – e.g., placing baby’s changing mat and nappies on an uncluttered kitchen table, so she can sit to do nappy care.
Let her sleep
Sleep is one of the most important things a new mother needs. She will need to be fully rested and energised to look after the baby. You can help create a comfortable environment for sleep and ensure she has everything she needs before she settles, so she doesn’t have extra things to worry about.
Enjoy your time together
You are a new family now, so this is a precious time to bond and spend time together. Take some time to adjust to this new environment and have quality time. Pre-empt with family and friends that you won’t be having any visitors over for the first couple of weeks but let them know that you will welcome ‘door step help’ - eg. meals being left, collection of laundry, putting out bins, etc. Anyone coming in during the fist few weeks should be coming in to help - neither of you should need to entertain them and their presence shouldn’t dirupt feeding or bonding times.
Ensure she has her own time
Your partner will need some rest and time for self-care every day - this may look like a nice refreshing bath, a nurturing massage, a relaxing yoga class or just some quiet time for herself. You can wear your baby in a sling and potter about in the house or go for a walk. Just make sure your baby’s been fed just before.
Listen to her
Continue to listen and offer encouragement if your partner is not feeling well. Let her know how well she’s doing with recovery. Giving her the space to talk about her feelings will help her process what happened. Listening is essential for her to feel heard and understood.
In the long-term
As with any major operation, C-section recovery times vary, and the needs of different women will be very individual. Your partner will continue to need support and watchful consideration of her needs for at least a few months after her operation, if not longer, and this is normal.
The support that partners, family and friends can provide a new mother is precious and vital, and it becomes essential after a C-section. Our C-Section Recovery Essentials kit has everything you need to know about recovery from a C-section so that you can help your partner recover as quickly and easily as possible.