What to expect after having a Caesarean section birth.
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What normally happens after a C-section
If you are anticipating giving birth by Caesarean section, you may be wondering about how your body will recover. You might have questions about how long it will take for you to be mobile, will you be able to walk or drive and what can you do to look after the scar. Here are some guidelines around the topic of C-section recovery. You can also speak to your doctor in case your specific medical history may add to this list.
If you are expecting to have natural childbirth this list will also help you as sometimes a doctor may have to perform an emergency C-section.
Recovery after a C-section
A Caesarean section is considered major abdominal surgery, and you’ll be given a regional anaesthetic block after the birth to keep you pain-free. After that, another kind of medication will be prescribed to manage any pain. You will remain hospitalised for 2-4 days, depending on the hospital and your recovery. After the catheter has been removed (within a day) you will be able to move around/get out of bed, although you’ll be in quite a lot of pain.
Being mobile will help your bowels to move properly again (pain meds contain narcotics which can cause constipation). It will also help to prevent any post-operative pneumonia and help to prevent blood clots in the legs.
You can breastfeed as soon as you feel able to after surgery, and a nurse will show you how to hold your baby in a way that does not hurt your incision. Do get help from the nurse or the baby’s dad in picking up the baby.
You will have a vaginal discharge just as with a natural birth consisting of bright red blood and bacteria for up to a few weeks.
Your scar will be raised and puffy and the doctor will check it daily in hospital. You can use a pillow/your hands to support it when you cough, sneeze or laugh. You may also feel bloated due to gas build-ups.
Let water drip on the scar in the shower and pat dry gently without scrubbing.
Wiggling your toes and feet in bed will help to get the blood flowing. Try to walk to the bathroom as soon as and as much as possible.
Your doctor may remove the stitches/staples before you go home (four days) or later on if you leave the hospital sooner.
Speak to your doctor if you experience any of the following:
• Pain when urinating
• Warmth, redness, smelling or oozing from the scar
• Worsening of pain
• Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
• Any signs of blood clots in your legs
• Signs of post-partum depression
Gradually increase your activity when at home, avoid lifting heavy objects and only start exercising after six weeks (this is when you can resume your sex life, too!). After six-eight weeks, you should be able to drive again.
The scar will remain visible to you, but it will normally be below your panty line and should start to shrink quite a bit after six weeks.
Tips via babycenter.com, The Bump, Babble and Health24.
Every woman’s body is different, so ask your caregiver plenty of questions and make sure you listen to any advice!
What tips would you give to someone who has just had a C-section birth?