Close contact between a mother and her newborn is essential to the physical and mental well-being of both. However, caring for your newborn can be difficult in the days following a cesarean section. You can give your body the rest and activity it needs to heal while provding your infant the care she needs to thrive.
Take Your Time
Some mothers will recover faster than others after a C-section; every birth and every mother is different. Taking your time to heal at your own pace is important. According to the American Pregnancy Association, you will be encouraged to get out of bed in the first 24 hours after your C-section. Taking gentle walks around the hospital and at home will help you get your strength back and promote the healing of your incision. When you feel confident and strong on your own two legs, you can pick up your newborn, usually within a few days following a C-section.
Even if you physically can pick up your baby and attend to every fussy burp and diaper change, it does not mean you should. Recruiting your family, your partner, your friends or a doula to help care for your little one in the first weeks is a good idea. The American Pregnancy Association advises that seeking and accepting help in caring for your newborn or other children you might have can alleviate the baby blues, a feeling of helplessness or listlessness that can accompany a mother's first weeks after her baby is born.
Prolonged skin-to-skin contact is powerful medicine for both mother and baby. Commonly known as "kangaroo care," this practice has been shown in a study by the Boston Medical Center to significantly lower pain or discomfort in a newborn. You can practice kangaroo care within minutes after your C-section, depending on your hospital's policies. Long sessions of holding your baby close, not only during breastfeeding, will help him to be more content and will help you to feel bonded with him.
Wearing Your Baby
When you feel strong enough, you can practice kangaroo care even while you are up and about, by wearing your baby against your skin with a baby sling. This is one of the safest ways to carry your baby soon after a C-section, because the sling holds your baby high up and away from your incision area. Wearing your baby also allows you to move around with your hands free, so you can safely steady yourself while your baby is secure.