Giving birth to your baby is an exciting and long-awaited moment. You will likely have been dreaming of what your baby will look like and will be desperate to hold them. However, recovery from giving birth can take time, especially if you have had a cesarean birth.
Giving birth via caesarean, often referred to as a c-section, can take a little longer to recover from due to the nature of the procedure. A C-section is a major abdominal surgery and unlike most surgeries, you will have a small baby to look after, as well as yourself.
Learning how to take care of yourself following a c-section delivery can be difficult, however, it is important to prioritise your healing. In this article, we will share some useful tips on how to recover after a c-section so you can heal safely and be back on your feet to enjoy motherhood.
What is a C-section
Before we talk about how to recover after a C-section it is good to explain exactly what the procedure involves.
A caesarean delivery involves your obstetrician team making an incision across your lower abdomen to deliver your baby surgically. There are many reasons why you may wish to have a C-section delivery and in some cases, a C-section is performed in an emergency if a vaginal birth is too risky or develops complications.
What you can expect during a C-section
- C-sections are performed under either spinal or epidural anesthetic and in most cases you will be conscious during the birth, however, you will not feel any pain.
- During the procedure a screen or curtain will be placed on your upper abdomen to shield your view of the operation, however, you can request for it to be lowered when your baby is delivered. Although you will be sedated during the procedure you may feel a pulling and tugging sensation, especially at the point of your baby being delivered.
- Once your baby is delivered you or your birthing partner will be able to hold your baby as long as they are well.
- The entire procedure should take between 40 – 50 minutes. Following your c-section you will be transferred to the recovery unit with your baby and then onto the ward.
Following your C-section delivery expect to be in the hospital for between 2-4 days. Your midwife team will want to keep an eye on you and make sure you are able to perform basic tasks such as using the bathroom and taking care of your baby before you are discharged.
How to recover after a C-section: best tips
Wound Care Is Crucial
Taking good care of your wound is crucial in your recovery and good wound care is vital to help avoid developing an infection.
Your midwife team will give you advice on how to care for your would which will include:
- Keeping your wound dry
- Rest and avoid any heavy lifting
- Wear high-waisted underwear and loose clothing
- Check for signs of an infection such as a high temperature, or your wound looking red, swollen, or leaking discharge.
Listen to the advice of your midwife team when it comes to looking after your incision. You will likely be visited at home by your community midwife or healthcare professional to check on your wound and remove the dressing.
Rest rest rest
A C-section is a major operation involving a deep incision through your abdomen to your womb. It will take time to fully recover from the procedure and during the first two weeks postpartum you should rest as much as possible. Ask your partner, friends, or family to help you with your baby, and take every opportunity to sleep and rest.
Due to the location and nature of a C-section, you may not physically be able to walk far for two weeks postpartum and you should expect to remain at home for at least 5 days.
Remember your pain medication
When you are discharged from the hospital your healthcare team will advise you on pain relief and what is safe for you to take if you are breastfeeding.
Make sure to take the pain relief as advised by the hospital and try not to forget to take each dose. Your stomach and muscles will be sore from the procedure and your body will also be recovering from pregnancy so you should expect to feel some discomfort and pain.
Take things slow
A C-section delivery will affect your abdominal muscles and it will take time for them to recover. While your body is recovering make sure you don’t lift objects heavier than your baby or undertake any strenuous activity. Pushing yourself before your body is ready can affect your recovery and may injure your body
Take as many opportunities to put your feet up and snuggle up to your baby as possible. Ensure that all the items you need for caring for your baby such as wipes, clean nappies, and clean clothes are placed close by to prevent you from moving around too much.
If you feel like you need to sneeze, cough, or laugh you may want to apply pressure to your abdomen area to protect your incision. You may also feel more comfortable sleeping with a folded towel or small cushion to support your stomach and incision area.
Move your body – gently
During the first week after giving birth via C-section, you will find it difficult to walk and move around. When you do walk you may want to hold your stomach to support your incision and you should avoid going up and down stairs as much as possible.
When you feel stronger some (very) gentle movement can be good for your body and will help with blood flow and recovery. Take gentle walks around your home before venturing outside with your baby. You may be itching to push your little bundle of joy in their pram, however, pushing yourself too soon could cause injury or prolong your recovery.
How to recover after a C-section: Enjoy the bubble!
One of the best ways to recover after a C-section is… well, to take things slow and enjoy that newborn baby bubble.
Don’t feel too much pressure to do things and take your time to rest and recover. The most important part of your recovery is healing and caring for your baby, everything else can wait.
Louise Ferguson Photography: Newborn and Maternity Photography serving clients in Glasgow