By Roselyn Dube
Nine months seemed like a long period for me to finally meet my bundle of joy. According to the scans during the doctor’s visits all appeared normal, and the feeling of seeing her move in my tummy was just awesome. She was my first child and therefore l made sure l took every pregnancy-related precaution seriously because I never wanted anything to happen to my baby. Those are the joys of motherhood, knowing that there is little life growing inside of you and dependent on you.
The day of delivery came and lucky enough I had already booked with my personal doctor. However, things did not go according to plan as I had wanted to have a natural delivery. My doctor informed me that my baby was too big for my cervix and therefore I had to have a C-section. A Caesarian Section (C-section) is a surgical procedure which involves the delivery of a baby through an incision (cut) in the abdomen. The procedure went well, but the pain was not something I had expected to go through during and after delivery.
We were discharged from the hospital after 4 days and I was happy to take my bundle of joy home knowing that she did not go through any complications requiring us to spend more days at the hospital than we had expected. The challenge was now with me and taking care of my cut. I experienced the expected after-effects which usually affect women who would have undergone a C-section. These included:
- Feeling quite sore in my lower abdomen, although the pain lessened as time passed.
- Finding it difficult to sit up, stand up and do other activities which involved using my abdominal muscles.
- I had some bruising, minor swelling and redness.
- Having itchiness or a feeling of numbness along the incision line.
- Having a small amount of clear discharge from the incision which was not blood or pus.
- Having vaginal discharge/ bleeding which was bright red for the first 3-4 days, a brownish to pinkish color days 4-10, and yellowish-white color from day 10 to the time I healed.
- Because I had stitches used to close my incision they dissolved on their own, unlike if I had staples, I would have had to return to the doctor to have these removed a few days after leaving the hospital.
- I did not experience much of gas pains.
As expected of any mother who would have had an unplanned C-section, I experienced feelings of disappointment and frustration. However, I am thankful that I had my husband to talk about this and he was very understand and helpful. Doctors say that the usual healing process for a C-section is 4-6 weeks, and mine took 5 weeks. During that healing phase, the above effects deteriorated with time. I had light meals, especially sadza, so as to avoid infecting the cut. After healing, that is when l realised that the C-section I had was a cut worth it. We are now both fine with my daughter and she is growing to be more beautiful each day.
To all the expecting mothers who might or will have a C-section, you should be aware of the following infections which usually occur within 30 days of surgery:
- Superficial: Infection involves only skin or subcutaneous tissue of the incision.
- Deep: Infection involves only deep soft tissues (e.g fascia and muscle layers) of the incision.
- Organ/space: Involves any part of the body, excluding the skin incision, fascia or muscle layers that is opened or manipulated during the operative procedure.
The following procedures should be practiced by women who would have had a C-section:
- Cover wound with an interactive dressing at the end of surgery.
- Don’t touch the wound unless necessary.
- Ensure that hands are regularly washed, particularly before and after using the toilet.
- If infection is suspected, contact local maternity unit (not GP).
- Remove standard, interactive dressing after 48 hours after the procedure.
- Alternatively if non-standardised dressing (eg. PICO, leukomed T+) consult manufacturer’s guidance.
- Assess wound for signs of infection.
- If the wound is clean and dry no further dressing is required and the patient may shower (or if using a transparent waterproof dressing, the patient may shower when they feel ready to).
- If the wound is displaying signs of infection (such as redness, in addition to swelling or pus) a wound swab must be taken aseptically and a fresh dressing applied daily. All assessments should be documented in the patient’s record.
- Aseptic, non-touch techniques must be used when the wound is being redressed.