Pregnancy and baby delivery effects you both physically and emotionally. Whether it is vaginal delivery or a cesarean delivery, your body needs time to recover. Read on to know what to expect before, during and after c section and dos and don’ts for your C section recovery.
You might be preparing for C section well in advance to deliver your baby. Or it might so happen that you deliver your baby through emergency C section. In any case, it really helps to know how to recover from a c section quickly.
But before jumping to understand the C-Section recovery process, let us see some important questions about C section birth.
What C section means?
C-section is the short form of Cesarean delivery. It is a surgery made to deliver a baby through mother’s abdomen. Your obstetrician will cut your abdomen and all the layers till your uterus to bring your baby out.
Is C section a major surgery?
Yes, C section is a major surgery. Therefore, in order to not feel pain, anesthesia is given through an injection onto your lower back.
However, the procedure of anesthesia will depend on your health conditions. It may vary from person to person.
Is C section painful?
Well, it is a common myth that Cesarean delivery is not painful. However, once the anesthesia effect wears off which does happen in a few hours after the surgery, you will experience severe pain.
But most likely, your doctor will compensate by prescribing medication to treat pain.
What happens right before Cesarean surgery?
A nurse from the hospital will perform enema on you. It is a procedure in which liquid is injected into the rectum. This will expel all the material and keep your bowels empty during the surgery. This seems uncomfortable but it is not painful.
You’ll also have a catheter or a thin tube passed into your bladder to keep it empty during the surgery.
An intravenous (IV) cannula is inserted usually onto the back of your arm to receive necessary fluids and medications.
You will be asked to change to hospital gown. Your hair will be tied. Your blood pressure is monitored. You will have to show your medical insurance if you own any.
How long does C section surgery take?
An average Cesarean delivery may take up to 1 hour or more.
What happens during C section surgery?
Once the anesthesia is in effect, your body down the waist becomes numb. You cannot feel any pain there. However, you will still be conscious. You can see and hear whats happening around you.
The abdomen is opened and a cut is made in the uterus. The baby is taken out from the uterus and the umbilical cord is cut. The placenta is removed and all the cuts will be stitched back up.
What to expect immediately after C section?
The hospital staff will shift you to a bed from the operation table. You cannot get up from the bed and should stay lying on your back. You will not be able to turn sideways.
The catheter which was inserted before the surgery will collect and empty your bladder into a bag. You will not be able to walk to the washroom and urinate on your own.
You will bleed through vagina even after c section. Since, you cannot get up to change sanitary pads yourself, you will need help from the hospital staff.
Anesthesia will wear out in a few hours after surgery. You will start to feel pain at the incision area. You cannot comfortably laugh, sneeze or cough. Discuss with your doctor if the pain is unbearable.
You cannot take water or any liquids or food until your doctor asks you to.
Since you will be on high medication, it is advised to talk to your doctor if you can breastfeed your baby right away.
How long does C-section pain last?
The incision area will feel sore for at least 2 weeks. It will be numb for a few more weeks.
How many nights stay in hospital after C section?
C section hospital stay will be approximately two to four days. This is to allow C-section recovery timeline in the hospital. Of course, this may depend on your insurance coverage and extend if you have any other health complications.
Before you are discharged from the hospital, doctor will change the dressing at the incision area.
What to expect on discharging from hospital after C section?
Incision area will feel sore and numb for several weeks.
When you want to get out of bed, don’t sit straight up from lying on your back. You need to roll onto your side and then push yourself up into a sitting position using your lower elbow.
It may take about six weeks to recover from your cesarean section . However, you may need more time to recover if you have any other complications during or after your c-section. It may also seem difficult if you have to look after older children.
You can still expect to look pregnant at this stage and much longer before your uterus shrinks down to its original size.
However, the recovery process will seem easier if you can follow certain do and don’ts after C section.
Do’s for C-section Recovery
C Section Incision Care
1. Incision area care
Your doctor perhaps will prescribe an ointment to apply at the incision area. Apply it on the incision area. Once you start taking bath, you can pat dry the area gently and then apply the ointment.
2. Comfortable clothing
Wear clothes in which you are comfortable. The clothes should make it easy to breastfeed as well.
Use under-wears that cover and fit above the c section scar. This will avoid rupturing the incision area.
Otherwise, you may feel uncomfortable and that impacts your mind. Any kind of mental disturbance is not invited at this stage.
3. Bath and Showers
Avoid taking bath for the initial 11 days. But I know you don’t feel good about it. Instead, you can wipe your body with a damp cloth and pat dry.
Alternatively, you can wash your hands and legs but don’t wet the incision area.
Physical and Mental Health
4. Balanced Diet
Very important, see that you take balanced diet. It will not only help your body to recover but also helps in breastfeeding.
5. Drink water
Even after few days of your delivery, you may continue to have constipation. Therefore, drink lots of water. This will help to boost your breast milk as well. You can tackle dehydration too.
6. Adequate rest
You should not underestimate this. It may seem impossible to take a few naps because you have so much else to do. But it is very important to take rest. Your recovery will be faster.
Take rest when your baby is napping. This is one of the best things to do.
7. Tie your belly
Tie your belly with a cloth on the incision area comfortably. See that it is tight but neither too tight nor too loose. You may shift to a belly belt after the initial few days.
8. Sneeze can hurt !
Yes, it does! Hold your belly when you sneeze, cough, or laugh to keep it still.
9. Prepare your hospital bag
Plan all the essential things that you will need both for you and your baby in the hospital beforehand. This will ensure that you don’t have to worry for everything at the last minute. This keeps you sane during and after the surgery. Having peace of mind is so important during this time.
10. Organise essential things :
Keep the things you need like sanitary pads, diapers – handy and organised at home. Do this before admitting to the hospital. This way you don’t have to get up frequently.
Let your care taker know where you have kept them for easy access. In case, they are not available with you, provide information where they are available outside so that it saves lot of time and rush.
11. Process emotions
You may have wanted to have normal delivery all through your pregnancy. But you might have ended up having c section surgery due to unavoidable reasons. Remind yourself that it is ok.
All that matters at this stage is a healthy baby and healthy you. Don’t worry about what others might think. There is a long journey ahead with your baby and this seems a small matter later.
12. Don’t shut yourself up
Not only your baby, that takes birth but also you, as a mother. Everything seems new. Motherhood is overwhelming. You will face challenges.
Therefore, talk to people about how you feel. Convey your expectations to them. Getting early support may help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. It also helps women experiencing postpartum depression to get quicker treatment.
13. Restrict visitors
This may seem unavoidable but it is good for both you and your baby. You will take sometime to get used to the new phase. You need time to rest and recover. Also, you cannot risk your baby’s health with any infections that come with visitors.
Therefore, try to schedule or restrict your visitors until you are comfortable physically and mentally.
13. Continue taking prescribed medicines
Take the medicines prescribed by your doctor until you finish the course. Most pain relief medications are safe for breast-feeding women but check with your doctor if you want to take something she has not prescribed.
14. Ask for help
Have someone by your side who can take care of your baby and you. It can be your mother, husband or mother in law. It helps both physically and mentally.
Ask help from your family to share a few chores. Don’t think you can do everything on your own.
This might be difficult. You may have sore nipples and heavy breasts. But you can absolutely breastfeed. Take help.
If you find it difficult to lift your baby, you can ask someone to hand over the baby to you at least for the first few days.
16. Feeding positions
Try different positions to feed your baby. Check the position you are comfortable to feed and continue for further feeding sessions as well. Try a feeding pillow if you find it difficult.
Try and take short walks even in your house. Avoid continuous sitting at one place for long duration. Little movements will make you feel better.
18. Iron supplements
Continue the dietary supplements that your doctor advises. This will make your c section recovery faster.
19. Wear your baby
Try a baby carrier only after you are comfortable enough. Make sure you have an ergonomic and good quality baby carrier.
Keeping your baby close will help you recover fast. Your baby will feel secure and safe too.
You can breastfeed as well carrying your baby. You can step outside and take some fresh air along with your baby.
20. Visit your doctor
In most cases, doctors use dis-solvable stitches. These will disappear, and the doctor will not need to remove them. Visit your doctor after 3 weeks to check if the area is healed.
In some other circumstances, a doctor may need to remove non-dissolvable C section stitches, usually a few weeks after birth. Visit your doctor around that time and allow the doctor to examine you.
Don’ts after C section
- Don’t lift any heavy objects other than your baby for the initial few weeks.
- Don’t take stairs repeatedly. Climb them slowly if needed.
- Don’t follow any crash diets. Take balanced diet.
- Don’t exercise till your doctor gives green signal.
- Don’t pull the tape if your doctor used tape strips on your incision. Let them fall off on their own. This usually takes about a week.
- Don’t do any rigorous chores that involves frequent bending.
Every c section is different. Recovery will depend on your health conditions. Talk to your doctor if you are taking long to recover. Or if you have trouble to pass urine or stool.
So, how was your experience after having C-section? What and how did you plan?
Did I cover the list exhaustively? What C section after care have you followed?
Please let me know through comments.