What to expect after having a C-section
Written by Michele Jogee on 07/12/2019
A recent study showed that up to a quarter of pregnant women in the UK have their babies via Caeserean section (or C-section). The surgical procedure which allows for the delivery of babies through a cut in the woman’s tummy and womb, usually comes as an emergency or as a planned procedure.
As a planned procedure, it can be selected by the woman for non-medical reasons, for example, if she is anxious about the vaginal birth process. On the other hand, there might be a number of emergency situations where an emergency C-section becomes necessary such as:
A C-section is generally safe but it carries a number of risks, so it is usually only carried out if it is the safest option for you and your baby.
Recovery from a Caesarean Section
Childbirth is a sensational, life-changing experience, but one underplayed aspect of it is the recovery process associated with a C-section. Recovering from a C-section usually takes longer than recovering from a vaginal or natural delivery, and you might need to stay in hospital for 3 - 4 days (assuming there are no complications), compared with 1 - 2 days following a vaginal birth.
In the days immediately following the C-section, you will be encouraged to urinate within the first 24 hours of having surgery. If your catheter has just been removed, you might find urinating painful, but the pain will ease off with time. This will help kickstart the healing process and get you used to moving around with your incision. Gentle walks around the hospital or rocking in a chair can help speed the recovery and help with gas that can develop after abdominal surgery.
Your uterus will begin the process of shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy size (involution) and with this, you will experience heavy bleeding which can continue for up to 6 weeks. The bleed (known as lochia) will start off bright red, then it will slowly become less red, pink, and finally more of a yellow or white colour.
To prepare for this, ensure that you have extra-absorbent menstrual pads, as it is not advisable to use tampons as they can encourage the spread of infections to the vagina.
In this time, you will probably experience some discomfort in your tummy, but you will be offered painkillers to help you cope.
Once you have been reviewed before discharge, if you are thought to be at risk of developing a blood clot, you may be shown how to inject yourself with an anti-clotting agent. If this is the case, you will be discharged with some pen-like injections which you will have to administer every day for the next few days.
What to expect after going home
The day following your discharge, your midwife will visit you at home and offer some advice on how to look after your wound.
She will usually advice you to:
If you have non-dissolvable stitches or staples, she will remove them in 5 - 7 days.
With time, your wound will form a scar, appearing raised or swollen and a different colour from the rest of your skin. The scar may remain tender for up to 3 weeks, however it will become thinner with time and eventually blend with your normal skin colour.
To help yourself recover better at home, you can do the following:
Can you get support at home after a C-section?
If you have no support at home, plan to have in one area all the basic items you might need such as your phone, medications, drinking water, books, TV remote, etc. If you have little support and no means of cooking healthy food, get frozen dinners which need minimum preparation.
Remember to not be afraid to ask for help. The extra physical care required after a C-section can make a woman feel inadequate and overwhelmed. Let someone know if you are feeling discouraged or weighed down. You can try to plan ahead and organize a support team prior to the birth of your child to help during this time. If you are in the London area, and you feel that you might benefit from the services of a visiting carer, feel free to contact us at HP Homecare as our experienced staff are always on hand to work with you towards making a safe and quick recovery.
In the next article, we will discuss post-surgical care for yet a different body part located even lower in the body - the hip.
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