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Cesarean sections are more common than ever. In some cases, women elect to have c-sections instead of a vaginal delivery, and in others, they may be medically necessary or performed in an emergency. Whatever your reason for having one, recovering from c-section procedures can take weeks, if not months. These eight natural remedies can help to ease your discomfort and speed your recovery so that you can fully enjoy your time with your newborn.
Natural Pain Relief for Recovering from C-Section
Pain is the most common complaint after surgery, and pain can be quite intense after a c-section. Narcotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to manage pain in women recovering from c-section surgeries, but these drugs have side effects like nausea, bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract, and other risks. And in some cases, they do not manage the pain sufficiently. All-natural, complimentary therapies such as these can help you to relieve your pain:
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- Lavender aromatherapy. Aromatherapy using lavender essential oil has been successfully used to manage pain in c-section recovery. Lavender essential oil has antibacterial and soothing effects because it can interact with nerve cell receptors. One study found that women who inhaled lavender essential oil after their c-section had significantly reduced pain at four, eight, and 12 hours after the onset of pain. They also reported no side effects and they used less analgesic rescue medication than the control group.
- Hand and foot massage. Massage of the hands and feet is another effective tool in reducing post-operative pain. Women who receive hand and foot massage after a c-section report lower pain intensities and request fewer analgesics. While even five minutes of a foot massage can produce significant results, studies show that 20 minutes results in even better pain reduction. The great news is, results can be felt almost immediately.
Caring for your wound is one of the most important things to do after a c-section. The faster your wound heals, the faster you can get back to your regular activities. These two natural products can help to speed the recovery of your surgical site.
- Aloe vera is well-known for its ability to accelerate the healing of wounds, burns, infections, and skin problems. In one study, women whose c-section wounds were dressed with 100% fresh aloe vera gel for 24 hours after the surgery showed significantly improvements in wound healing compared to the control group. Although this type of immediate intervention needs to be performed safely by a professional, aloe vera gels or creams can be applied topically to the site of your wound yourself at home once the wound has close up and healed initially.
- Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory capabilities, as it can boost the immune system. A study in 75 women found that applying a honey gel to the wound site twice daily for two weeks resulted in significantly improved markers of wound healing compared to a placebo gel. Those women who used honey had less edema around the c-section wound and were more highly satisfied with their treatment as well.
Eat Well, Hydrate, and Other Healthy Habits
Recovering from c-section surgeries requires patience, time, and taking good care of yourself:
- Drink water. It is important to stay hydrated after your procedure. After a c-section, many women experience constipation, which can be unpleasant and painful. Be sure to drink plenty of filtered water to keep your body balanced.
- Eat well. Post-operative nutrition can affect the speed of the healing process. Make sure you eat a balanced diet with protein, fruits and vegetables, to make sure you are getting enough nutrients. Anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, berries, dark leafy vegetables, fish, and more can aid in healing as well.
- Take probiotics. To prevent infection, you will be given antibiotics, as with any surgical procedure. But antibiotic use can be detrimental, as they can get rid of beneficial bacteria that your body needs. To combat the negative effects of antibiotics, take a probiotic as well, which can restore a healthy balance of bacteria in your body.
- Get enough rest. Your body needs sleep and rest to heal properly. Life with a new baby will be hectic and difficult, but try to find the time to let yourself sleep, because it is essential for you to recover fully and be able to enjoy the time with your newborn.
For additional resources to help you during and after pregnancy, read more here:
Share Your Experience
Have you ever had a c-section? How did you support your body and help yourself heal from the procedure? Share your tips for recovering from c-section surgery in the comments section below.
Originally published in 2015, this post has been updated.