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Recovering from a C-Section

If you had a C-Section, you will have a little more mending to do. A C-Section is considered major abdominal surgery, which takes approximately 6-8 weeks to fully recover from. Have no fear — you’ll be just fine! The following accounts were written by fellow readers about their experiences with having and recovering from a C-Section — hopefully you’ll find some comfort as well as great tips from their stories.

“So, you had to have a C-Section for one reason or another. Maybe you are heartbroken because of it, maybe you wanted it, or maybe you fall somewhere in between. At least you get to skip all that horrific bleeding, right? Right?! Eh, not exactly, although c/s moms tend to bleed a little less than their vaj-delivery counterparts.

Because you’ve just had surgery, you may be gassy (more gassy than your normal pregnant self) and bloated, even uncomfortably so. Ask for Simethicone in the hospital (or at home) if it gets really bad and remember walking around will help get your bowels moving again.

For the first 3-4 days, walking is a difficult task. You will probably need help. You might need help showering. Or, you might just not shower (if you are me). Either way, it is pretty hard to do much more than exist for the first few days. It’s ok, just go with it.

Back to the bleeding – like with a vaginal delivery, you will be bleeding anywhere from 4 – 6 weeks. Still no tampons, just the enormous pillows they send you home with to use as pads. Some advice? Take as much of those mesh undies home as you can, because you best just throw away anything you are wearing for the first two weeks. After that, it should start to taper off.

Unfortunately, constipation, incontinence (ever hear of snissing?), and hip/knee/back pain are also prevalent even with a ‘section’.

Your incision will be painful at first. It also looks terrible, but it will get better very soon. Your doc will remove your sutures or staples in the hospital after a few days, although they may opt to do it later at their office after you’ve been discharged. Don’t worry, the removal is not very painful. They may also use glue on your incision, which will slough off on its own.

Don’t pick at your scar. Let soapy water run over it (once you are able to bathe) and pat it dry. You can put a little triple antibiotic on it after the first week. Don’t worry, the incision is very low, so it’s not going to show in your underwear or in a bikini. After time, it fades very nicely.

Be careful about what you wear. You don’t want much pressure on your abdomen, so maternity pants or sweats it is! You might have some trouble with stairs at first, you shouldn’t drive for about two weeks, and no lifting anything heavier than the baby. Really, just take it easy.

Even though you will be up and at it soon enough, it will be a very long time until you are 100% healed. At four months postpartum, I STILL get some pain around my incision.

Some women say they are running again two weeks after a C-Section. I call them liars. Two-week recoveries after labor are like unicorns; everyone would like to believe in them, but they don’t exist. They say it takes a woman’s body 18 months to recover after a pregnancy. So don’t balk at an 8-week span before you start to feel a bit like your old self.”

Angie A.

“Like many, I tried to avoid all c-section topics in the irrational pregnancy belief that if I didn’t known about it it won’t happen… however my irrational plan didn’t work and my baby was breeched. After going through an unsuccessful version, I had to have a c-section hence I read every material I found on sections and I have to say… I got really depressed.  

All everyone talks about is restrictions, recovery time, no sports etc. It really put me in a funk. In the end, it was all for nothing! Yes we did stay in the hospital longer, but I was cleared for sport (and sex) when the baby was just 4 weeks old, I was in pain for 3 days and then so much better each day. Yes, my body was weak but I am sure it would have been after a vaginal delivery too. Plus… there are all the benefits, mainly no labor! I think it’s worth to tell that story too! Not just the bad ones.”

Karina

“So you think you may end up with a C-Section? Fear not, it happens to the best of us. I was totally psyched to birth my baby under a rainbow in a pool of natural spring water in the woods (totally kidding) when my stubborn baby decided being head down was for the birds. So C-Section it was! If you’re in this boat, or think you may want or end up with a C-Section, try not to stress; every lil thang gonna be alright.

As far as recovery goes, it’s definitely no walk in the park. The main thing is it’s major abdominal surgery, which any other time would be a reason for you to take it very easy and get lots of rest and not do too much lifting or activity. Only… you just had a baby so that’s absolutely impossible. Repeat this mantra- ‘Baby your baby, baby yourself.’

So there you are being wheeled into the postpartum room, and they’re likely going to hook you up to this weird contraption that wraps around your legs and sounds like Darth Vader. This is to massage your legs to help prevent blood clots that are a risk in almost any surgery. They’re also going to withhold food from you until you toot and/or poop. Since they just did a lot of fooling around in your abdomen, they have to make sure your intestines and digestive whatnots are in proper working order before they’ll let you put them to work digesting food again. So as soon as you pass gas? Go ahead and let everyone know. Loudly. Hit the call button and tell the nurses (can you tell I was starving?).

The next thing to know is your nurse is a sadist and will make you get out of bed at some point. Just kidding, she’s likely going to be a wonderful old pro. It really helps to get your body moving, as miserable as it feels. You will feel like an old lady who’s been hit by a truck, but it’ll get better the more you’re up and moving. Just don’t overdo it.

The drug I was given for my ‘family centered C-Section’ (also called gentle cesarean, look it up, really pretty cool) was called Duramorph and its pain killing powers wore off 24 hours after administration. Right when it wore off, I was hit by a coughing and I’ve never been in so much pain in my life. Don’t let this happen to you. I must’ve sounded like I was dying when I hit the call button because a bunch of nurses busted through the door like the Kool-Aid man. So to prevent that from happening, ask about your pain options and frequency and have your husband/partner/mom/whoever set alarms for you to call for them. You will sound like a total junky calling the nurse every few hours for your pain meds, but if you don’t, you won’t get them on time and you just don’t want to go there.

Anyway.

At some point, they’re going to want to remove your catheter; they asked me at about 10 PM if I wanted it removed, which I postponed due to reeeally not wanting to have to get up in the middle of the night to pee, so I had them remove it the next morning. Score!

As soon as you feel up to it, take a shower. If the bandages are allowed to come off, take some baby oil with you to wash the sticky adhesive off your skin. Try not to look at the incision, it will look terrible now and just freak you out. It will look waaaay better down the road and there’s no reason to get upset and see it in its worst condition. Ignorance is bliss at this point, trust me.

As far as when you leave the hospital, just remember your mantra: baby your baby and baby yourself! The laundry and the vacuuming and the dishes can all wait, you just park your butt on the couch or in the bed and take it easy. You’ll bleed and hurt and be sore, have random referred pain in your shoulder and weird burning and pulling sensations in your incision, but you will feel back to normal in a few weeks. As rough as it is, just try to relax and not worry so much, and soak up your sweet new baby!”

Sydney S.

“Dermabond Advanced ‘glue’ is available for wound closure, but is not widely accepted due to lack of data. We sometimes use it for small laparoscopic incisions, but I avoid it for anything larger and prefer staples or suture [for C-Sections]. I give the patient the option. Suture dissolves on its own and I can make it look “pretty” right away, but the staples come out before the patient leaves the hospital and usually result in the same, nice cosmetic effect in the end. If staples are removed too early, there may be some skin separation that takes longer to heal.

My answer: I like suture for healing and cosmetic effect. Staples are faster, but may have higher chance of wound separation. Dermabond has not been studied in a large trial to demonstrate its superiority to these other two methods and is much more expensive.”

Dr. Jennie Hauschka

Read more about recovering from vaginal delivery or move on to Your Emotions.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hello,

    Well people may not believe me but I had a C-section in October 2019 and I had no pain during the recovery. I am not lying ! I was even worried that the day will come when I will feel pain but NOPE! It never came. The nurses and my OBGYN will say that I had high pain tolerance but trust me, I do not! I will tell them that I didn’t have pain. I thought the anesthesia was still working but they told me it wasn’t. I am really interested if any one out there. Since October until now I never experienced pain and all I remember is that as soon as I had my baby I started walking the day after and since than I have not stopped. I don’t know how that happened since I hear all these stories about how painful and uncomfortable was. Please if anybody had the same experience as me please let me know. I am curious to know if maybe we did the same thing that helped us not to have pain.

    1. Avatar

      Same. I just had my baby June 4th and no pain well very little. More like tightness than anything. This is my third c-section so I thought something was wrong because I knew what to expect for the most part. But boy by far the easiest one physically. I had to remind myself that I just had a baby and even though I don’t feel pain, I did just have surgery and to rest. Congratulations on the baby!

      1. Avatar

        I’m was the same way. I rolled off the surgical bed into the recovery bed minutes after my surgery. I know the anesthesia was still working then, but I never felt weak or in pain. I was walking to the bathroom the next morning, which was only a couple of hours later since I had the c-section at 8pm. I spent 4 days in the hospital and most days I gave my pain rating a 1-2 and that was only because it was a little sore to sit up and breastfeed my baby. The nurse were in shock, because I took a shower as soon as the bandages came off (around 30 hours after surgery). When I went home I did have 1 very uncomfortable bowel movement, but I was organizing and doing chores around the house by day 4. I’m on day 9 now and I forget to take my pain medication most days. There is still the random soreness when I get out of bed or get out a seat. I can’t believe the healing time is 4-6 weeks. I feel fine already.

  2. Avatar

    I wanted to share my c section experience for anyone out there who has a rough go of it: I had an emergency c section after 3 hours of pushing. The little guy was just too big. When the doctor cut my incision, my skin was so swollen it continued to tear and I have a very long scar as a result. The c section also healed slightly crooked so i have an area of skin that hangs over the incision. I am 5 months pp and walk everyday. My incision gets sore after I walk but the pain subsides overnight until I walk again the next day. I haven’t seen a lot of commentary on the internet for people with c sections who are still experiencing soreness after 5 months, so I just want to let anyone else out there know you’re not alone!

    1. Avatar

      Thank you for sharing I’m 6months after C-section and still have lower abdominal pain that really hurts from time to time but my doctor used internal staples which some of mine still haven’t fully dissolved

  3. Avatar

    I just had my second c section June 5th. I’m on my 3rd week of recovery, I do feel better, however my incision has been bleeding/ leaking fluid a tiny bit. I called my OB office and spoke to a nurse, she said it sounds normal. Has anyone else experienced this?

  4. Avatar

    Hi there mommies. All the comments here are really encouraging. I’ve had my first c section on the 1st July 2020 (going on 28 days today). However it is burning a great deal, most times. The Nurse indicated that it’s just the dissolvable stitches doing their healing… It’s just too much. It’s not pain but it burns.

    Just thought I should share and see if anyone went through this and how long did it take? I’m going on 4 weeks now and the incision burns too badly.

  5. Avatar

    I just had my third c section on June. Going on my 7 week pp and I’m still feeling pain in my incision. Really itchy and harp pain that come and go all through out my incision. I was told that it’s because I’m healing and in those areas i might have lots of scared tissue. Just the other day I noticed what seemed to be a stitching pocking out of my incision. Not sure if normal. Eventually came out. You would think I would know everything about recovery and used to it since it my third one, but no each one healed different.

  6. Avatar

    Hey ladies! Okay so I had a emergency c section on July 15th.. so I’m now 4 weeks pp.. well on Sunday I had to go to the er for bleeding they did a ultrasound and the ultrasound tech was literally pressing the probe right on my incision 😖. Well now it’s a little swollen and hard a bit above the incision… I’m assuming it’s just irritated because I’m only 4 weeks pp and it’s still healing. But I just want to know if that’s normal… I have a appointment on Monday so I’m obviously going to ask my doctor but I just want a little peace of Mind before then

    1. Avatar

      Melissa,

      I had my c section July 21. I am 4 weeks today. My bleeding Stopped after two weeks and then with a clot the size of a golf ball around 2 and a half weeks pp it kicked back up again and my incision wasn’t looking so great. I went to ER and they also did an ultrasound and could see some small clots inside but nothing too concerning. They gave me antibiotics for the incision as it was beginning to be infected. It cleared up. Today I went to my doctor as I am still passing clots. Doing another ultrasound tomorrow to see what the heck is going on. So…. I don’t have answers for you but I am in the same boat. It’s very frustrating aaaaaaand totally nerve wracking.

      A

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