It is exciting to deliver a baby. It’s the time when you finally get to meet the small baby whom you have been nurturing for the last nine months inside your body. Yet, delivering a baby can be quite taxing for you both physically and emotionally, particularly if you had the baby delivered by a C-section. You would require more time for recovery than you would have required if you had a normal vaginal delivery.
What to Expect in C-Section Recovery
Right after the surgery
Immediately post-surgery you would be moved to a postoperative area. Here you would be kept under observation and the hospital staff would monitor things such as bleeding (both from the incision site and from your vagina), temperature and blood pressure. Fluids would be delivered by an IV and urine would be collected in a urine bag via a catheter. During this point, there would be still no sensation in the lower part of your abdomen due to the anesthesia. Moreover, you may feel somewhat woozy or shaky from morphine that is given to manage your pain. If you don’t develop any complications, then you are allowed to hold your baby and breastfeed her right away.
If you have not developed any complications, then after some hours you would be moved to a room located in the recovery unit of the postpartum area. You may be given ice chips and then a liquid diet of juice and broth until your physician allows you to eat solid food.
After surgery, your uterus would be massaged by the nurses to help it to shrink and contract to its near normal size.
You would be asked to get out of bed, if it is possible for you, as the activity helps speed the process of C-section recovery.
The urinary catheter is usually removed on the second day following surgery. You would be walking by this time (at least to go to the bathroom). Doctors recommend increased activity as soon as possible; however, this can be painful, so do it as comfortably as you can. Increasing physical activity improves functioning of bowels, improves circulation and would make you your normal self sooner.
You can take a shower at this stage. You would be having a vaginal discharge or bleeding, which is referred to as lochia and is a combination of mucus, blood and uterine tissue.
Your IV would be removed and you may require a painkiller for the pain. You would also be enquired whether you have passed gas. By now you would be allowed to eat solid food.
You have to stay for around four days in the hospital with a C-section. By now you would be getting ready to leave the hospital and go home. Your staples would be removed, and your incision would be covered with Steri-Strips. You would be instructed to take care of your incision; hence, keep your wound undisturbed and clean. You would also be advised to not lift anything heavy, to avoid sex, douching and tampons until after your check-up at 6 weeks.
You would visit your physician for a postpartum checkup who would examine your C-section incision. By this stage you are on the road to quick C-section recovery.
Now you would be moving more comfortably and swiftly. Your bleeding would taper off by this time.
Most likely you would be fully healed by now. If you had sutures, then around 50% of them would be absorbed by now, your uterus may have reduced to its pre delivery size and you can have sex freely. By now you can resume all your normal activities.
Some Tips to Make the Recovery from C-section Faster
1. Get lots of rest: With a baby to care for, this is easier said than done. However, rest or sleep every time your baby naps or rests.
2. Take good care of your body: While your incisions are healing, it is recommended to take extra care in moving around. Avoid climbing stairs. Keep things you need such as diapers, food etc closer to you. While coughing or sneezing, hold your abdomen so as to protect the site of the incision. Don’t do strenuous exercise. However, you can go for gentle walks. Also take care of your emotional health. You may feel sad, exhausted or disappointed. Talk to your partner, friend or a counselor about your emotions.
3. Get pain relief: Your physician may prescribe a painkiller or recommend an OTC product. You can also use heating pad to alleviate discomfort at the site of the incision.
4. Eat a healthy, well balanced diet: Good nutrition is not only important during pregnancy but also after delivery, especially if you are breast feeding your baby. Also remain hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water.
When to Seek Medical Help During C-section Recovery?
The presence of the following symptoms may indicate an infection; hence require medical attention:
Swelling, redness or oozing of pus from the incision
Pain in the incision site
Raised temperature of greater than 100.4 degrees F
Foul smelling vaginal discharge
Heavy bleeding from vagina
Swelling or redness in leg
Pain in chest
Difficulty in breathing
Pain in breasts
What Other Mothers Have to Say about C-section
After my C-section, on day 3 I walked all through Walmart. By week 4 I walked around 2 miles. My bleeding continued till 6th week, but I recovered very fast as I pushed myself to stand straight. It hurt in the beginning but by week 3 it did not hurt at all.
I had a tough recovery. I waited for 6 weeks before I could drive or lift anything heavy. My incision site would start having a burning sensation anytime I exerted too much. At around 2 months postpartum I was able to do normal function, but I didn’t feel like my usual self until 6 months postpartum.
My 2nd C-section was done 3 years ago. During that time I was up and around immediately. I recommend that. Ask your nurse for a binder for your tummy. It helps with walking and staying straight. Walk as much and as soon as you can.