Womens Health Clinic Blog

Recovery after a Caesarean Section

Mother with a c-section scar lying next to her baby

At Create Health we work very closely with our patients and most women who are  seeking a vaginal birth are safely able to do so. We also support women who want to have a vaginal birth after a caesarean section.

However, in some cases, a C-section may be necessary.

Some of the reasons you may consider or need a C-section are:

  • If the contractions don’t open the cervix enough to allow the baby to safely move into the vagina during labour
  • If you are having twins and they are not in a good position to be delivered safely vaginally
  • If you have a fibroid that is blocking the birth canal
  • If the placenta is `low’ and at risk of bleeding
  • If fetal monitoring detects a problem with baby’s heart rate or other complications
  • If you have an infection such as active genital herpes

The first 24 hours

Most women undergoing a C-section receive an epidural or spinal block. This form of anaesthesia numbs the body but still allows you to be awake.

It can take several hours to regain feeling after an epidural. You will not be able to walk or use the bathroom during this immediate post-operative period.

  • You will have a urinary catheter for several hours after delivery to help urinate.
  • If general anaesthesia is needed, waking up can take some time. You may feel groggy, nauseated or confused as you come out of anaesthesia.
  • You may experience cramping and pain in the incision area. It’s also not unusual to experience discharge and bleeding with clots immediately after delivery.

The first 24 hours following a C-section present many of the same challenges as a vaginal delivery. These include adjusting to new parenthood, attempting breastfeeding and fielding visitors.

With a caesarean delivery you may face additional challenges:

  • One of the biggest risks of C-section is developing a blood clot in the leg. This is more likely in women who are overweight or who remain immobile for long periods. You will have compression stockings and will receive a daily injection of a blood thinner.
  • It is common to feel pain at the site of the incision. Many women also feel post-birth cramps as the uterus shrinks. These feel similar to menstrual cramps, but may be more intense.
  • You will be carefully monitored for signs of infection in the caesarean incision.
  • Vaginal bleeding usually lasts 4 to 6 weeks after birth and is heaviest during the first days.

The first weeks

Your wound will feel sore for a week or two. The muscle surrounding the wound may also feel weak. You will have  pain medication prescribed for the first 2 weeks. We prescribe drugs that are safe in breastfeeding. It’s often best to take the medication at the first signs of pain instead of “toughing it out” as breakthrough pain may be more difficult to control.

After surgery, it may be uncomfortable to cough, laugh, or do anything that requires your abdominal muscles. You can use a pillow and provide support to your abdomen when you need it. Sitting with a pillow on your lap during breast feeding supports your baby and protects your wound.

You should avoid returning to normal activity/exercise levels for 6 to 8 weeks. While it is important to rest and limit strenuous activities and heavy lifting during your recovery,  you don’t want to go to the opposite extreme and stay in bed all day. Walking and movement is a vital part of your recovery process, and it helps improve your circulation.

Driving is usually not safe for 4 to 6 weeks.

The symptoms tend to get steadily better as the incision heals and the uterus contracts.

In most cases, we use dissolvable stitches. These will disappear, and you will not need to remove them.

Everyone’s body recovers at a different rate, and the most important thing for you to remember is to follow our instructions and give yourself time to rest. Comparisons may frustrate you and cause unwanted stress. If you have concerns about your progress, please speak with us and we will be more than happy to help you.

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