Breast Reduction and Caring for Small Children
The information in this section is made available through the generous support of Dr. Grant Stevens.
Breast Reduction and Caring for Small Children
Women have breast reduction surgery at all ages and stages of our lives. For those of you who have small children at home, there are a few tips you can follow to help make your recovery easier. Please check with your plastic surgeon about any lifting restrictions you might have. Every plastic surgeon has a different time frame for lifting, so make sure you discuss this in depth.
Once you are released for lifting, you are still going to want to be very careful and limit what you do. You should listen to your own body even though you have been released. We have found that some plastic surgeons will release a woman with no restrictions at two weeks post op. Then she will go home and lift her 30-pound child and injure herself. So, use common sense once you have been released and take it slowly. The longer you are able to go without lifting, the better you will heal. By being wise and cautious, you are helping to ensure that you will heal completely and not be taken away from being able to care for your children because of a complication or healing difficulty.
If you can, get help. While we all wish to be Super mom, sometimes it just can't be done -- especially at the expense of your healing. If you are married or have a partner living with you, see exactly how much time your spouse or significant other can get off from work. During this time, don't lift a thing! Once your spouse or partner returns to work, see if you can fill in the gaps in care by calling on family and friends to help with some of the more hands-on tasks involved in child care. Use common sense. Baths can wait until your spouse/partner returns home from work. Laundry can be done by your spouse/partner as well.
If you are raising your children alone or your spouse/partner cannot get time off, it's time to call anyone who can help you, such as parents, in-laws, siblings, and friends. Most people don't have a problem pitching in to help you for a few days here and there. Your goal here is to try to avoid lifting your children as much as possible for as long as possible. You might have to cut a few corners, but understand that this is a temporary situation. You will heal and return to your normal activities, but until then, you have to compromise.
See if you can reschedule your surgery for a time when you will have help available to you. Perhaps you can schedule your surgery during the school year, so that at least your children are in school most of the day.
To fill in the gaps, if you are home alone with your children while recovering, try some of the following:
~ Consider day care for your recovery period. This significantly cuts down on the hours in a day that you would need to be totally responsible for the physical care of your children. Remember, this is temporary and will help to ensure a full recovery for you.
~ Consider a home health aid. Some insurances do cover having a health aide come into your home. An aid is different from a nurse, because an aid is there to do light housework for you. An aid can prepare and clean up after meals, do laundry, or grocery shop for you.
~ Ask your local church or religious order. Many times members of your church are more then willing to stop in and help out with light household chores and meals. Make sure to ask around.
Accept Help from your Children
~ Children who are between 5 and 7 years old love to be "Mommy's Helper," so let them! They can lift smaller items for you, put laundry in the basket, and get things from other rooms.
~ Prepackaged food. Maybe you do a full home-cooked meal every time you go into the kitchen, but this is not the time to keep up this tradition. If you love to cook, prepare healthy meals before your surgery and freeze them into containers to feed just yourself or your whole family, depending on your needs. Many ladies have had success with buying frozen dinners or buying microwavable dishes that don't require refrigeration. Your nutrition needs are greater at this time, however, so try to select higher-quality, higher-protein items, and be sure to incorporate some fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet if at all possible. It will improve your healing.
~ Take out meals. Not everyone can afford this option, but if you can, there is nothing wrong with take-out meals. You can quickly and easily reheat leftovers later. Again, try to make good nutritional choices.
~ Smaller, single-serving drinks. You can either buy quart-sized milk, single-serving milk, or juices. Drink boxes are great for this.
~ Booster seat on the floor. If you have smaller children who are still being fed in a highchair, then get a booster seat and put it on the floor. Then you can get to the floor to feed rather than lifting your child to a highchair.
~ Have a small stool or step ladder on hand. If your child is walking or able to climb, you can supervise him/her getting into and out of bed or a crib with a step stool. This way, you don't have to lift little bodies in or out of bed at nap/bed time.
~ Switch to a toddler bed. If you child is just about ready, now could be the time to make the move to a toddler bed. Make it a big deal that your child gets to sleep in a big kid bed! These are easy for children to get in and out of.
~ Naps on the floor. Children are made of 95% rubber for the most part. Have a blanket or small pad on the floor next to your couch. When it's time to go to sleep, you can both rest easy.
~ Prepare ahead! Put together a few weeks worth of outfits for your child, including pants, shirts, underwear, and anything else that is needed. Put a rubber band around them. If your child can get this for him/herself, then put the clothes in an easy-to-reach drawer. If you have a small child who can't get things with your direction, then put them in piles on top of a dresser. When it's time to dress, you can either have your child bring you a "packet" of clothes or you can easily take one off of the dresser.
~ Let them dress themselves. Many children love to dress themselves. Let them! You have done the hard work of putting matching clothes together, now they can get dressed.
~ Dress on the couch. If your child can't dress without help, the child can either climb to the couch, or you can kneel on the floor. This way you don't have to do any lifting.
~ Use the couch or floor. If your child is in diapers and can climb, they can climb on the couch and you can change them there. If they can't climb yet, they can be changed on a towel on the floor. For either method, don't lift your child up with the legs to slide the new diaper under them -- just roll them side to side.
Think Before You Act
~ Before you let your child climb into the tub, think about the fact that you'll somehow have to fish a wet, slippery child out of the tub. Not anticipating this can leave you in a sticky situation. As moms we do things routinely but post operatively you have to rethink all of these things from beginning to end so you don't get stuck.
The bottom line is that you need to minimize the lifting and stretching you have to do. It can be done, but sometimes you have to be creative. You can't be locked into thinking that you have to give your children the care you normally do. It's just not possible during recovery from major surgery. Take the time now, before your surgery, to work out child-care issues and prepare yourself and your home. Your healing is top priority for the first 4 to 6 weeks.