Suggestions to Get Ready for Surgery
At the suggestion of the
members of Sans-Uteri, here are some
recommendations for women who are preparing for hysterectomy and/or oophorectomy
Suggestions for Your Hospital Stay
- Comfortable nightgown and robe.
Keep in mind that you will be walking the hallway with an IV so take button down AND over-the-head nightwear.
A wrap-around robe may be all that you use over the hospital gown.
- Bedroom slippers, heel-less are easier to use.
- Fresh smelling, light cologne
- Loose fitting pants and top for the trip home.
- Lightweight socks (toes get mighty cold in hospital rooms)
- Chap stick
- Hair brush/comb
- Breath mints, hard candies, and gum
- If you are a smoker bring nicotine patches and/or nicotine gum to get you through the hospitalization.
- Air-line pillow/baby pillow as discussed above
- Underwear - larger in size than normal for when catheter is removed so that you can secure sanitary napkins to them.
Suggestions for After Surgery Care
Your surgeon and the hospital staff will give you post-operative instructions. These suggestions have been contributed by the
members of Sans-Uteri as they have been
personally helpful to us.
- Take it easy. Your body has just been through a major trauma and needs
rest and pampering. Your incision may be healing well on the outside -
however - inside there are layers and layers of tissue that need to heal.
Making the bed, doing laundry, even sitting at the computer may be too much.
Several naps a day are suggested. The more rest and good nutrition you get
the easier your recuperation will be. Do not push, pull, reach or lift for
two weeks to allow internal sutures to heal.
- Drink plenty of water. This is necessary for a returning of normal bladder and bowel function. If you begin to develop changes in urination, pain,
burning or frequency, report this to your doctor immediately.
- As soon as you can, ask the nurses if it is safe to have them take out your urinary catheter. Sometimes they might leave it in overnight in which case, have them remove it first thing in the morning as it can cause horrible bladder infections and a lot of discomfort. If you have a history of cystitis discuss this thoroughly with your surgeon. Sometimes they will avoid using a catheter, if possible, but you need to ask.
- Do not strain to have a bowel movement. Gas is normal and the use of Gas-Ex, Phazyme
(generic name: symethicone) or similar over-the-counter therapies will help. If
constipation is a problem consider adding more fiber to your diet, Metamucil or
a MILD stool softener. Remember that pain medications slow down intestinal
mobility and can cause constipation. Walk
slowly, as normally as possible and as much as you comfortably can &
- Attempt to stand up as straight as possible. With an abdominal incision
there is the tendency to slouch over because it hurts - to continue to do so
will allow the muscles to contract and erect posture will be difficult at a
- Get out of the hospital as quickly as you can . . . it's the worst place to be to heal. Try to stay only two days and then get home for your real recovery. Take walks as soon as you're able. Make sure you have someone at home who will let you rest, rest,
and more rest.
- Should you find yourself constipated, and if you're a regular coffee drinker, have a cup of
- Try to maintain your pre-surgical food consumption. Sometimes estrogen therapy may increase your weight. The urge to snack while
at home recuperating can cause additional weight gain. (Another point of view on
eating after surgery is that it maybe better to eat more to provide extra
nutrition for healing and to offset the exhaustion women feel after surgery,
rather than dieting during this time.)
- Your most comfortable pre-op position in bed may not be comfortable
post-operatively, at first. Experiment with recreating the positions that
were comfortable in a hospital bed with pillows under your knees and
supporting your back.
- Do not bathe or shower until your doctor gives permission to do so. When it
is allowed, make sure someone is nearby in case you need them―at
least the first few times you bathe.
- Do not drive a car until the doctor allows you. The need to brake suddenly may be painful early on and that is a dangerous position to be in.
- Keep stress levels down. Let others help you when and where needed. This is not the time to be superwoman.
- Restrict lifting children, pets, and heavy things. Although you may not feel it―abdominal muscles are used in these activities and these muscles need time to heal after being cut.
- If you will be home alone during the day have an ice chest next to your bed or chair for fruits, drinks, and sandwiches.
- Attempt to wean your usage of narcotic pain medication opting for analgesics as soon as possible.
(Another point of view on this is that it is important to be proactive in the use of pain meds, especially at first. If you know you're going to be up for a while, or doing something more active, having pain meds on board will help prevent the "backlash" that we sometimes get. Women should not suffer through the pain because it can do nasty things like raise blood pressure. Taper down, by all means, but don't push it.)
- Update your telephone answering machine daily to avoid having to give
individual status reports to well-wishers checking in on you.
- Some people believe that massaging the incision area speeds up healing.
However, do not use any creams, lotions, or Vitamin E oil until the incision is
- This is important! This is not for *infected* or open incisions, but to *keep* the incision from getting goopy,
infected, opening if you have belly overhang. Do this only after discussing it with your surgeon. It is used for continual wound drainage. Ask your nurse for a "peri bottle" before leaving the hospital & when you get home rinse the incision site after your shower with hydrogen peroxide from the peri bottle. Then, very gently, pat the area dry and further dry it with a hair dryer on a COOL setting. Place long strips of cotton about 2" wide (from old T-shirts or
underwear) long enough to cover the incision with room for the cotton to stick
out the sides of your belly over the incision. The cotton acts as a wick to draw
moisture away from the incision. This is particularly helpful when there is
overhang of abdominal tissue over the incision site.
Below are suggestions from women who have successfully
used homeopathic remedies
(please note: you must work with a
skilled homeopath to decide what remedies
will work for you).
Arnica 10M: 3 single doses one day pre-op and 3 single doses immediately post-op to minimize bruising. Do not use for more than 7 days in total.
Causticum 30: if having trouble urinating.
Cantharis 30: if only producing small amounts of urine and burning sensation.
Nus Vomica 6 or 30: post-operative nausea, constipation and
HYPERICUM 6 or BELLIS PERENNIS 6 - for bruised, deep sore feeling.
This is just an overview. Ideally your surgeon and/or the hospital staff have given you guidelines. If in doubt of whether your should participate in an activity―lean towards the conservative. Remedies for one person can be poison for another. While operations may have the same end result, often times the procedures were performed differently, & there may have been special considerations or consequences for you. We are all different, so when in doubt ask your health care provider.
Sans-Uteri is here to be a support for you―offering our advice and empathy and solutions that have worked for us.
This project was the joint effort of the members of Sans-Uteri. Our attempt
was to incorporate, in a general sense, information that would be helpful to
the largest population. Ideally, your surgeon will give recommendations
that have been successful in their practice. If a bowel prep is required,
your surgeon will go over those details with you. That issue will not be
discussed here because not all surgeries nor surgeons require this.
Many thanks to the participants of Sans-Uteri and Ellen Blumin for the pre and post hysterectomy suggestions. If you would like to add to this list please contact
the List Managers.