Cesarean section (C-Section) is a medical intervention that some women must have when delivering. It can be intimidating when not knowing what to expect.
All surgeries are serious and should not be treated lightly. It’s a nerve-wrenching event within the most wonderful time of your life. C-sections have become a common surgery in our day and age.
Here are a few things that can help you when wondering what to expect after a C-section.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING RECOVERY
Recovery can seem like a long and scary road. For most women, the recovery process takes about six to eight weeks and is not that bad. Most doctors will get you up to begin walking within twenty-four hours after surgery.
This is important in the recovery process as it helps to prevent clotting. Shortness of breath is a common side effect of abdominal surgery. The hospital will likely provide you with an incentive spirometer.
If they don’t then you should ask for one. These devices will help work out your lungs. This will help in preventing any further complications from shallow breathing.
You will not be able to pick anything up that is heavier than your baby. It’s best not to test this restriction because you could cause serious injury to yourself. Take your pain management seriously during this time.
Take your prescribed medications according to your doctor’s instructions. If they make you feel ill then your healthcare provider can help you find an alternative way to help you manage the pain. There is no need for unnecessary discomfort.
Constipation can occur and this should be addressed with your health care provider as well. They can tell you what remedies to take to ease constipation after surgery. It is important for you to care for your incision to avoid an infection.
Expect quite a bit of bleeding as if you had a vaginal birth, if not a little more. Bleeding is normal and you should wear a maternity pad. Binding is not necessary after a C-section.
The incision area will be sensitive for quite a while. It is best to hold a pillow or your hand over the area before coughing, sneezing, or laughing to prevent pain.
Most healthcare providers will require a check-up six weeks postpartum. At this appointment, your doctor will most likely clear you for normal activities. These will include being able to exercise and resuming sexual intercourse.
WHAT RESTRICTIONS TO EXPECT
Like with all major surgeries there are going to be restrictions. It is vital that you adhere to your healthcare providers orders. Here are a few common restrictions:
- Do not lift anything heavier than your baby for the first six weeks.
- Strenuous exercise needs to be avoided. Light walking is encouraged.
- No baths until the incision is healed.
- No sexual intercourse until your doctor gives you medical clearance.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach until the incision is healed.
Every woman is different and each surgery is unique. It’s best to follow the guidelines that your physician lays out for your safety.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN CARING FOR YOUR INCISION
Keep the incision clean and dry. You should not take a bath until your doctor gives you the all-clear. Taking a shower while recovery is fine.
Let the water run over the incision but do not scrub the area and do not apply soap directly to the wound. Allow the water to run over the area to rinse. When you get out of the shower gently pat the area dry with a clean towel.
You can cover the incision with a clean bandage or leave it uncovered and wear baggy clothing.
In about two weeks most women notice that the incision site feels a bit better. It takes at least six weeks to recover. Some doctors use staples when closing up the incision which will have to be removed.
Most physicians have gravitated toward dissolvable stitches. They are worry-free and usually dissolve by the time you go to the postpartum exam.
The scar is small and can is usually hidden under bikini line. Most incisions are horizontal and avoid cutting the abdominal muscles. It is rare but in some cases the incision is vertical.
Scarring depends on your genetics and skin type. Over time the appearance of the scar will fade. There are many ointments and creams that can be used to reduce the visibility of the scar. Your scar may be sensitive for some time and may feel numb.
Scar tissue can form and cause some discomfort but for the most part, the scar is not a big deal.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN CARING FOR BABY POST-OP
Take it easy Mom and accept all the help that people offer. Don’t overdo it by trying to do too much too soon. If you choose to breastfeed then it is best to use pillows to assist you in holding your baby. They will help by keeping her in position without putting a strain on your body. Set up areas for her in the most used rooms of your home it will help when you are recovering. This will keep you close to your baby.
Bending over and reaching for things over your head will be difficult during this time. Not being able to lift objects that are heavier than your baby can also be frustrating when caring for her. But eventually, you will be back to normal. Besides the few restrictions caring for your bundle is pretty standard.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS AFTER A C-SECTION
Knowing what to expect can be beneficial when complications arise. Here are some of the complications that can occur:
1. Blood Clots
This can be a common concern after a C-section. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is when a clot forms in one of the veins in the legs. Clots can also form in the pelvic area.
If this happens they can break off and travel to your lungs causing a pulmonary embolism. Walking is encouraged in the hospital. Other measures such as pneumatic boots are used to also help lower your risk of clots. In the past clots were more prevalent.
Most new mothers are commonly told to rest in the days after a C-section. An indicator of a blood clot is pain and swelling in the legs. It is important to contact your physician immediately if you suspect you may have one. Blood clots that are caught early are usually treated with blood thinners.
2. Incision Infection
Post-cesarean wound infections can occur after surgery. This is an infection that occurs on the skin surface as opposed to the inside of the uterus. There is usually fever and pain present as with most infections. These are usually treated with antibiotics.
Bleeding after a C-section is normal. You may have more blood loss than a vaginal birth. You should track the amount because there is such a thing as too much.
There are many factors that could cause you to have a hemorrhage. A major organ could have been lacerated. There could have been a complication during the delivery. It could even be that blood vessels were left unstitched.
If you experience excessive bleeding you should seek medical attention immediately.
This can occur after abdominal surgery. This can occur with a vertical incision. This hernia occurs when the abdominal lining pushes through the incision.
Hernias can be painful but most are not fatal. They will not go away on their own and you will need to seek medical attention which usually results in surgery. This complication carries a risk of it happening again with future pregnancies.
It can even occur again if it was previously repaired with surgery.
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH PREGNANCY AND BIRTH AFTER A C-SECTION
Future pregnancies are usually not affected much by a C-section. There are some instances where the scar in the uterine wall can rip open but this is not common.
One of the major concerns for women is whether they will be able to have a vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) or not. Safety of mother and child is the major concern when your and the doctor are deciding if it is okay to attempt a VBAC. Often it is fine to go for the VBAC delivery.
There will be some who may not qualify to attempt this delivery method. This is a topic best left to be discussed with your healthcare provider as each person is different.
C-sections are common in our society today. While they are performed daily it is good to keep in mind it is still major surgery. When utilized right, the C-section has the ability to save you and your baby’s lives.
We hope having an idea of what to expect after a C-section can help put you a little at ease if you deliver by this method.
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