What You Need To Know About Recovery After C-section

Childbirth can be stressful, exciting, painful, and riveting at the same time. After carrying your little one in your womb for nine months, you finally get to meet him or her. Having a baby can also take a huge toll on your body, particularly if you have delivered through C-section. Your body will need time to recover and it takes much longer than vaginal delivery recovery.

In this article we will be telling you more about what C-section entails and give you some tips on how you can speed up recovery after C-section. This will make life a little easier on you so that you have more time to bond with your newborn

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What You Need To Know About Recovery After C-section

What To Expect During A C-Section?

Irrespective if your C-section is unexpected or planned, here is more information on what to expect.

What are C-sections?

A Caesarean is a method of delivering a baby through uterine and abdominal incisions. In some cases, they are scheduled beforehand due to pregnancy complications, like maternal high blood pressure or breech presentation. C-sections are typically scheduled for one week before the expected due date. This is to prevent the mom from going into labor before the caesarean date.

Emergency caesareans are normally not planned before labor sets in and is usually done as a life-saving method for both the baby and mother. They usually happen when the baby is in distress or labor is not happening normally, or an issue with the placenta is detected.

The entire procedure typically lasts anything between 25 and 60 minutes and c-section recovery takes longer than vaginal births. You will stay in hospital for about two to four days after the procedure for monitoring. As the case is with other major surgeries, there could be complications like infection, heavy bleeding, or blood clots. But most side effects are not major and typically clear up within a few weeks.

Risk factors linked to C-Sections

Sometimes C-Sections are the only course of action despite all your efforts. Some risk factors may boost the chances of having a caesarean. This includes sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, pregnancy with multiples, maternal medical issues like hypertension or pre-eclampsia, heart disease, or kidney disease.

Researchers also found that women who are obese or overweight are more likely to have C-section deliveries as opposed to those who are lean. This is because the risk of complications for obese women are a lot higher. They are more susceptible to surgical complications too. They often have lower success rates with vaginal births as well and C-sections are the most suitable options for them. 

How to prepare for a C-section delivery

When you start packing your hospital bag for the big day, add a few additional items that could make your stay more comfortable in case of a caesarean birth. Some moms pack cranberry juice which is believed to lower the risk of urinary tract infections after birth. Others pack molasses or chewing gum to speed up infamously balky post-op bowel function. Once you are ready for a caesarean, the first thing to think about is consent forms that must be signed relating to anesthesia. If you have already ordered an epidural, the anaesthesiologist will enhance the dosage. If not, the obstetrician and anaesthesiologist will probably opt for a spinal (intrathecal).

Both entail an injection in your back and cause numbness from your rib cage to your feet. The next order of business would be to drink a chalky substance called Bicitra. This is for neutralizing stomach acids, and you will be given an IV and catheter. Next, you will be pushed to the operating room where your birth partner will start suiting up in scrubs and a protective mask.

What happens during a caesarean procedure?

The nurse will be shaving just enough pubic hair to make a clearance for the incision. The incision is normally about four to six inches in length. You will not feel any pain when the surgery starts. However, some moms might feel a tiny bit of a pinch when the peritoneum (tissue that lines your abdomen) is reached. The majority of surgeons make a horizontal incision through the uterus and abdomen, but vertical cuts may also be done on rare instances.

Next, you might feel painless prodding when the baby is being positioned. This part is similar to a vaginal birth (for the doctor). The doctor will place his hand underneath the baby’s head in order to form a cradle which makes it easier to pull the head out first. Since the mother cannot push, the top of the uterus is pushed to raise the head out of the pelvis region, followed by the shoulders and body.

At this point, doctors will cut the baby’s umbilical cord and discard the placenta. You will meet your baby now at any moment. Many times, if you request, the doctor will hold up the baby or lower the surgical screen so that you can catch a peek of your little one as soon as he is delivered.

Seeing that tiny face and meeting your newborn can be incredibly overwhelming and rewarding after carrying him in your womb for all those months.  Delivering a baby is an experience that you cannot really explain until you have done it yourself.

Every woman is different, and each pregnancy is unique. Some women have easy deliveries while others have complicated ones. Nevertheless, once you hold that baby in your arms for the first time, it is all worth it. 

C-section recovery

4 Tips On How To Speed Up Recovery After C-Section

Give yourself plenty of time to rest

What many people do not realize is that a C-section is major surgery and equally to having other surgeries, your body must heal itself. After a C-section you will remain in hospital for about three to four days before going home unless any complications arise. It takes about six weeks for your body to heal completely.

The tricky thing after being discharge is that you often do not have time to lie in bed for hours because you have a newborn that needs plenty of attention and care. This may sound like a cliché when people say that you must sleep when the baby sleeps. But trust me, it is true. Whenever you get an opportunity to nap, you should do so. 

Newborns feed a lot and even though they sleep a lot, it is often for short amounts of time and this goes on day and night. You are going to need every bit of rest that you can get. It helps to enlist the help of your partner, family, and friends to help you with some household chores and nappy changes so that you get time to rest in between, take a bubble bath, or do anything other than simply tending to the baby.

Practice some self-care and look after your body

Remember, you have carried your baby for nine months and you have given birth. It is a major transformation that your body has just gone through. Take special care of your body to give it a chance to heal. Try not to go up and down stairs and keep baby essentials and other things you need close to avoid moving around unnecessary. It helps to keep moving, but you should not overdo it. 

Avoid lifting anything that is heavier than your baby. Rather ask a friend or your partner to help you. When you cough or sneeze, hold your stomach to protect the incision. For some women, it takes up to eight weeks to return to their normal routine. 

Speak to your physician to find out when it is safe to go back to work, to drive, or exercise. Also refrain from using tampons or having intercourse until your doctor gives the go ahead. 

If you want to start exercising again, steer clear from strenuous exercise, and rather take a walk whenever possible. The mobility will assist your body with the healing process and prevent blood clots and constipation. Walks are an excellent way to introduce your baby to his surroundings.

It is essential to also take care of your emotional health. You may experience feelings that will catch you by surprise. After having a baby, you might experience extreme exhaustion, disappointment, or sadness. Do not disregard them. Speak to someone you trust like your doctor, best friend, your partner, or a counsellor to help you work through these feelings. 

Pain relief

Speak to your doctor about which pain medication is safe to take, particularly if you are nursing. Contingent on your level of discomfort, he may prescribe pain relievers or suggest over the counter pain meds like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Apart from pain medication, you can also place a heating pad to alleviate discomfort at the incision area.

Follow a nutritious eating plan

Good nutrition is not just vital during pregnancy, but also after giving birth and when you are breastfeeding. Keep in mind that you are your little one’s main source of nutrition when nursing. Including a variety of foods into your diet can go a long way in keeping your baby healthy and allow your body to get stronger. 

Research has shown that eating veggies while nursing releases flavors into your milk which boosts your baby’s enjoyment and helps them to eat these vegetables when they grow older. 

Remember, to take in a lot of fluids, in particular, water. Your body needs additional fluids to increase milk supply and prevent constipation. Fruits like watermelon contains a lot of water, so if you are not a huge fan of water, you can get some of your fluid intake from the foods you eat.

New mom resting with baby

Incision Care After C-section Delivery

The hospital and your doctor will give you instructions on incision care which generally include:

  • Keeping the incision site dry and clean.
  • Using warm and soapy water to clean the incision daily while preferably taking a shower. Gently pat the area dry and refrain from rubbing.
  • Laving tape strips on the incision area until they fall off by themselves. 
  • Never use cleansing products that could slow down the healing process.

When should you be worried?

It is normal to experience some soreness in the incision and you might experience discharge and bleeding for about six weeks after C-section delivery. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor, since it could be indication of infection.

  • Swelling, redness, or puss exiting the incision area
  • Fever exceeding 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Swelling or redness in your leg
  • Pain surrounding your incision site
  • Foul smelling discharge from your vagina
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Chest pain
  • Painful breasts
  • Difficulty breathing

Also, call a medical professional if you have feelings of sadness or depression that does not go away, particularly, if you are having thoughts about hurting your baby.

A Quick Recap – Do’s and Don’ts After C-section Delivery

Do’s

  • Use this time to bond with your baby.
  • Try to rest whenever you feel tired. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your partner, family, and friends.
  • Try to go for a walk each day since it helps with the healing process.
  • Hold your tummy when sneezing or coughing or hold a pillow over the incision site.
  • Take showers.
  • Consult with a lactation expert if you are having difficulty with nursing.

Don’ts 

  • Lift objects that are heavier than your newborn.
  • Douche, have sex, or use tampons until you have gotten the go ahead from your doctor.
  • Take a bath until postpartum bleeding has stopped and the incision is fully healed.
  • Take part in rigorous activities or do core muscle workouts until your doctor has given permission.
  • Hesitate to ask for assistance.
  • Take the stairs too often.
  • Use public hot tubs or pools.

Conclusion

We hope you have found this article informative and will use it as a reference guide to help you with speeding up your recovery after C-section delivery. A final thought, if you have a sibling your friend that had a caesarean, try not to compare your situation to theirs. Each woman’s experience with a C-section is different. All you have to do is focusing on healing and give your body a chance to make a full recovery. 

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8 comments

  1. A long read but very informative.

  2. Very good information to new momies.

  3. I wish i read this 17 years back!

  4. The tip about holding your tummy when coughing or sneezing is so helpful. Recovery is hard so any tip to make it easier or cope better is so helpful

  5. I had a C-section with my daughter. The advice I got was to walk alot so that my wound could heal faster. Not sure that that was good advice because I was in terrible pain and I actually saw other C-section moms heal faster by just taking it easy🤷

    • I was told the same and I walked a lot. I think I healed quite well and quite fast. I struggled a lot with pain because as an addict I don’t get the good stuff like Morphine in my drop and Myprodol tablets afterwards. I get paracetamol in my drip. It’s not easy!

  6. I remember being terrified just before my second c-section. My first c-section was an emergency so I didn’t have time to be scared, it happened very quickly. The second time around I knew what to expect and felt the healing time was longer. Sometimes I still have issues with my back and scar.

    • That is exactly the same experience I had jo-Anne, I was in labour for hours with my first baby and was in so much pain and so exhausted when I had my c-section that when the doctors told me that they were going to do the spinal and that I would feel some pain I felt nothing over and above the pain I was already in. The second c-section felt strange being taken in so calmly, and yes I also felt the healing took a lot longer. I actually had a third c-section, but that was a miscarriage and that healing felt like it took forever. I’m not sure how much of that was in my head and how much was real though.

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