For families planning a c-section for the first time, there may be many questions about what postpartum recovery is like. Often the postpartum recovery period is mysterious and not spoken about. Everyone is different, making the few stories you do hear varied and confusing.
So, what can you really expect after a caesarean birth?
Obviously, you will have an incision on your lower abdomen that may be painful.
You can expect:
· small amounts of blood or pink fluid coming from the incision.
· afterpains (cramping).
· gas pain.
· bruising on the incision area.
· to have stitches or staples on your incision.
o stitches usually dissolve on their own; staples are removed at approximately 3-5 days after your baby is born.
· to be offered pain medication. These drugs will be safe for your baby and help you to feel more comfortable.
Much to the surprise of many new birthing parents who have a surgical birth, you will still experience lochia, the post-birth vaginal discharge made up of blood, mucous and uterine tissue. Don't be surprised if the postpartum nurses take a peek under your sheets now and then to check your flow.
How to Care for a Caesarean Incision
When you go home from the hospital, it is recommended that you shower daily after the first 24-48 hours to keep your c-section incision clean (unless your doctor suggests otherwise). Do not scrub the incision. Allow the soapy water to run down the area, rinse gently and pat dry, being cautious of your staples if you have them.
It will be about 4-6 weeks until you start feeling like yourself again. Until your incision is fully healed you may want to:
· avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby.
· hold a pillow to your abdomen when you stand up, move in bed, laugh, cough or sneeze. When getting out of bed, first lie on your side and then push yourself into a sitting position.
· Allow someone else to drive you around until you are feeling well enough to make the quick movements that can become necessary when driving.
Postpartum Red Flags Following a C-section
You should contact your doctor if:
· you notice increased discharge from your incision
· there is yellow or green discharge coming from your incision
· your pain increases or is not being reduced by your pain medication
· there are red, hot and sore areas near the incision
· you develop a fever
· your incision opens up
How to Care for Yourself Emotionally After a Caesarean Birth
It’s not uncommon to have mixed feelings about your birth experience whether you have a planned or unexpected c-section. You may feel sad, happy, disappointed, or relieved, even all at the same time. If you’re upset, worried, or struggling emotionally with the outcome of your baby’s birth, it’s important to talk to someone that can help you. Your doctor, partner, doula, therapist, or even a trustworthy and resourceful friend can all be good people to confide in. You may need the help of a professional to work through any negative emotions.
If you're finding the challenges of postpartum recovery to be more difficult that you thought they would be, we encourage you to reach out. Our postpartum doulas can help with your day-to-day tasks, be a listening ear, look after your baby and other children while you rest, and even accompany you to appointments and check ups. We are experts on postpartum recovery after caesarean birth and would love to share our expertise with you.