Whether you had a planned or emergency C-section, the procedure is still emergency abdominal surgery. Not only are you asking your body to recover from nine months of housing and growing a new human, you now have to recover and bounce back to be the best mom possible.
Be kind to yourself and honor your body as you speed your recovery following a C-section. At Women’s Care OB/GYN, we recommend the following steps to heal fast and strong.
1. Stay on top of your pain
Following a C-section, you usually spend up to four days in the hospital (rather than just two for a vaginal birth.) Complications may mean you have to stay a little longer.
While you’re at the hospital, it’s easier to stay on top of your pain as it spikes about 18 hours after delivery and your spinal anesthesia wears off. Usually, the medical staff gives you pain meds regularly through an IV or orally, and the nurses track your intake.
But when you head home, it’s important that you keep managing your pain to minimize inflammation and to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed with the stress of pain. Usually over-the-counter pain medications are enough. Check with your doctor about which ones are safe if you’re breastfeeding. A heating pad can also help ease discomfort at your surgical site.
2. Curb your activity
Follow our instructions to minimize your physical activity following a C-section. Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby and aggravating the incision site for about six weeks. You might even need as much as eight weeks to completely return to your normal routine.
We let you know when it’s OK for you to exercise, get back to work, and drive. We encourage gentle walking soon after you get home, but you need to wait four to six weeks for more rigorous efforts.
You should definitely rest following a C-section to encourage healing. But that’s easier said than done when you have a newborn to care for. Sleep when your baby sleeps — it’s OK if you have to put off doing the dishes or catching up on emails to do so. Your health and healing are more important.
4. Pay attention to your diet
You’re tired, you’re busy, and you’re sore, so it may be tempting to just grab whatever food sounds good and ignore good nutrition. But eating a healthy diet full of lean proteins, low-fat dairy, fresh greens, colorful fruits, and fibrous whole grains will help you heal much faster. A little extra fiber can help with post-surgery constipation and trapped gas as well.
Stay hydrated because doing so can help with constipation, energy levels, and milk production (if you’re breastfeeding.)
5. Respect your incision
Keep your incision clean and dry to encourage healing and discourage infection. In the first week or two that you’re home, hold your abdomen if you sneeze or cough to protect the incision site.
You should have stitches that dissolve on their own, but if you don’t, make sure you wait for a doctor at our office to remove the staples or stitches. Contact our office if your incision feels warm or becomes reddened or if pain increases, as these symptoms could indicate an infection. Stay out of pools and hot tubs, which are not safe for a fresh surgical wound.
If you recently gave birth via C-section and have questions, don’t hesitate to call us at Women’s Care OB/GYN or book an appointment online. We’re here to support every step in your pregnancy, from preconception to post-natal.