According to the CDC, 32.8% of all births in the United States are delivered by cesarean, also called a c-section. That’s nearly one in every three women who have to undergo this procedure during delivery.
Having a cesarean is major surgery and requires hospitalization, so realize that it will take some time to recover. New mothers who have this procedure must cope with caring for themselves in some specific ways in addition to caring for their newborn.
24-48 Hours after a C-Section
Within hours of your surgery, you will be asked to get up and walk around and to start eating. While you may not feel like doing either, both are important for you and your newborn.
Naturally, pain and fatigue are to be expected with any type of major surgery. Other issues can include nausea for the first few hours and constipation, which are both related to the epidural you were given.
Keep your pregnancy doctor or attending nurses aware so that appropriate medications can be given to alleviate some of your discomfort. Typically, most of your pain will subside within the first 48 hours.
You will have to take precautions with your incision such as holding your hand over your incision should you sneeze or cough.
3 to 5 Days after a Cesarean
By the third day, you will be feeling more like yourself. You will have regained your mobility and most of your strength, but you will still have to take precautions.
Following a cesarean, the length of stay in the hospital for most women is three to five days. Sudden movement and heavy lifting should continue to be avoided.
A pillow is quite handy for providing a cushion around the incision area and for reducing strain.
Returning Home after a Cesarean
You will likely have some vaginal bleeding or several days, so have some sanitary napkins on-hand. (No tampons!) Most women experience a need to urinate frequently. Do not attempt to “hold it” as this can cause other problems.
Three to four weeks after returning home, you should be able to resume normal activity. However, sexual activity should not be resumed for at least six weeks.
Post-Cesarean Incision Care
While you will receive more detailed instructions before you are released from the hospital, here’s an overview of caring for the incision across your abdomen.
- Keep the incision area clean with peroxide; apply antibiotic ointment and fresh bandages.
- Any redness or swelling should be reported to your doctor immediately.
- Wear loose fitting clothes.
Don’t ever hesitate to contact your pregnancy physician regarding your recovery.
Drs. Anthony B. Agrios and Joseph S. lobst, along with Certified Nurse Midwives Shelley Russell, Julie Rischar and support nurses are here for you every step of the way. We want you to feel comfortable discussing any issue with us.
For more in-depth information about cesarean procedures, read our knowledge center article What to Expect After a Cesarean for more. And if you would like to read about other procedures and women’s health in general, please visit our knowledge center, or feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment.