Recovery after a Cesarean Birth
Recovery from a cesarean looks very different for each individual, so don't listen to anyone except your own body. Some people don't feel well for weeks, while others are up and about in a few weeks or so. It all depends on several factors:
How the surgery was done and if there were complications.
Your own health before the cesarean.
Whether the cesarean followed a long labor or if it a scheduled cesarean.
Some people are slow healers and others recover very fast. If you have other responsibilities like another child, you will have no option but to be active fairly quickly. In a perfect world, your family is close to you, your husband has time off work and at least for the first two or three weeks you will not have to do much for yourself or your family. However, if that is not the case try as much as you can to take it easy, and not run yourself ragged, the more you focus on your recovery the better and quicker you can get back to your family and your other children. Listen to your body if you feel very achy around the wound, or just feel abnormal fatigue, like first trimester kind, it’s time to stop what you are doing, go to bed snuggle with your newborn and rest. A great indicator that you are doing too much is your vaginal bleeding. Aside from the first few days where it might have looked like a heavy period, bleeding should begin to dwindle down. If you start bleeding again heavily you have done too much and you should rest. If the heavy bleeding does not stop CALL YOUR DOCTOR.
The first few days after a cesarean birth can be quite difficult, even if all is going well. You will need strong pain relief for a couple of days, don’t underestimate what you went through. A cesarean birth is a major abdominal operation and if it was not a birth you’d have no problem taking pain killers. Also remember that the body cannot manage pain and produce milk at the same time, so even though traces of the pain killer might go into breast milk, you need to be present for your baby. Pain relief will probably be required for a couple of weeks after the birth and possibly on the odd occasion beyond this, discuss with your provider a schedule to get yourself gently off the pain meds. Some women will utilize natural therapies such as acupuncture and /or herbs, or homoeopathic remedies (such as arnica) for bruising.
Take extra care in getting around while you heal. Avoid going up and down stairs as much as you can. Keep everything you need, like diaper changing supplies and food, close to you so that you don’t have to get up too often.
Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby. Ask for help from your spouse or a friend or family member.
Whenever you have to sneeze or cough, hold your abdomen to protect the incision site.
It could take up to eight weeks for you to get back into your normal routine.
Avoid strenuous exercise, but do take gentle walks as often as you can. The movement will help your body heal and prevent constipation and blood clots Plus, walks are a great way to introduce your baby to the world.
If you feel exhausted, sad, or disappointed, don’t ignore it. Talk about your emotions with a friend, your partner, your doctor, or a counselor.
pregnancy hormones tend to slow everything down digestive-wise and things don’t just miraculously return to normal immediately after delivery. So if you were having issues with constipation during pregnancy, they are not likely to resolve spontaneously once your baby is delivered. Plus, pain meds have a side effect of constipation. The hospital will offer Colace, I personally prefer magnesium start with 500 mg up to 1500, it softens your stool and makes going to the bathroom easier.
If your baby is in the NICU, ask immediately for a breast pump so you can stimulate your milk production, if your baby came early ask the NICU to give your baby donated mother’s mil as studies have shown this is best for fast recovery.
Itching and numbness along the scar are par for the course.
When your obstetrician cuts through those layers, she may cut some nerves, which can result in the loss of feeling. It’s not unusual for the numbness to last for several years.
You’ll probably feel some soreness in the incision, and you may have bleeding or discharge for up to six weeks after the C-section. That’s normal.
Call the doctor if:
following symptoms warrant a call to your doctor, because they could signal an infection:
redness, swelling, or pus oozing from the incision site
pain around the site
fever of more than 100.4°F (38°C)
bad-smelling discharge from the vagina
heavy vaginal bleeding
redness or swelling in your leg
Also, call your doctor if you feel sad and your mood never seems to lift, especially if you have thoughts of hurting your baby
Depending on the reason for the C-section you can be a great candidate for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or even an HBAC (home birth after cesarean.) When you are ready for another baby make sure you find a VBAC friendly provider to advise you. You can also get in touch with ICAN (international cesarean awareness network) a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans through education, supporting cesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).