C section recovery

Every mother – to – be has the possibility of being a candidate of cesarean. Most especially if her unborn baby is in a breech position. With that being said, everything a cesarean mother (especially the first – timers) need to know and expect is here.


Postpartum vaginal bleeding

Postpartum vaginal bleeding happens when the blood attached in the placenta, comes in the uterus for self – healing purposes. This vaginal discharge (also called as lochia) is made up of blood residue, bacteria, mucus, and sloughed – off uterine tissues.

It starts off as bright red tinged with clots and as the uterus heals itself from childbirth, the blood color changes from red to pink, brown or even white.

Even though a newborn mother did not undergo a vaginal delivery, she will still experience postpartum vaginal bleeding

In addition, a cesarean patient will experience heavy postpartum vaginal bleeding due to the following cases:

Pregnancy week by week
  • Experienced a prolonged and arrested labor
  • Carrying a macrosomic baby – macrosomic baby or fetal macrosomia refers to an unborn and/or newborn baby whose size is too large for his gestational age. It comes from the word macrosomia which means big body
  • Multiparous pregnancy – carrying multiple babies in one pregnancy that is, twins, triplets and the like
  • Placental problems such as placental abruption

Postpartum hemorrhage

Postpartum hemorrhage is a rare type of vaginal discharge which occurs with the following characteristics enlisted below:

  • Lochia still appears bright red at week 6
  • Appears red again after it has lightened
  • Panty liner is soaking wet after an hour
  • Blood clots that are larger that are larger than a golf ball

Postoperative pneumonia

Postoperative pneumonia is when a cesarean patient [or postoperative patients in general] acquires pneumonia after an operative surgery (particularly the cesarean delivery). This type of pneumonia comes in 2 types:

  • Hospital – acquired pneumonia (HAP)
  • Ventilator – associated pneumonia (VAP)

Moreover, this can also be a serious contributing factor t0 the formation of blood clots in the legs.

Bloating and gas

Expect more bloating and gassiness [accompanied with discomfort] right after the cesarean delivery. This symptom is considered as a significant milestone for cesarean mothers.

Colon congestion

Colon congestion (widely known as constipation) happens since a cesarean patient becomes inactive during the recovery process. Having an inactive lifestyle slows down the bowel movements.

Urinary incontinence

 The Cesarean mothers’ recovery timeline

To further guide first – time c – section mothers after their major abdominal surgery, here is a detailed recovery timeline:

After 1 hour

Right after the surgery, a cesarean patient will be transferred to a postoperative room to monitor the following:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Bleeding at the incision site
  • Blood pressure measurement
  • Body temperature check

Also at this point of time, the lower half of the body will still be…

  • Numb due to anesthesia
  • A bit unstable due to morphine from the IV fluids that manage the pain
  • Amid the complications, a newly cesarean mother can hold and breastfeed her newborn right away

1st day

If there are no postoperative complications, a cesarean patient will be wheeled from the postoperative room to a postpartum recovery unit. From there, the hospital staff will accommodate her with the following:

  • Ice chips in a polystyrene cup
  • Doctor advises to eat a liquid diet for awhile
  • Nurses will massage the uterine area to shrink to its pre – pregnancy size
  • She will be encouraged to walk and move as much as she can [possibly on the same day]. Ironically, this type of activity helps speed up the c – section recovery

2nd day

  • The urinary catheter is [likely to be] removed in the morning. So that the cesarean patient can walk herself [farther] wherever especially if she wants to go to the bathroom
  • The IV fluid is removed as well
  • Expect repetitive questions regarding the level of pain she feels around the incision area. This is so that medical practitioners can give her the right dosage of pain medication that she needs
  • A medical practitioner will ask a cesarean patient if she already passed some gas after the surgical operation
  • On the 2nd day, a cesarean patient can already take a bath or shower. She can only use a water and a mild soap [only] over the cesarean cut
  • At this point, a cesarean patient is likely to eat normally again (solid foods). However, medical practitioners still advise to eat a proper dinner after 12 hours

4th day

  • Cesarean patients are advisable to stay in the hospital for 4 days. With that being said, today is the day she that she must get ready to go home.
  • Before the patient leaves, the medical practitioner will remove the staples (if she have) and cover the incision wound with butterfly closures [which fall off on their own]

On the contrary, a cesarean mother must avoid doing the following activities until after her 6th week check – up:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Driving
  • Taking the stairs
  • Vaginal douching
  • Placing and/or putting any foreign object or substance in the vaginal opening, as to avoid various infections

After 2 weeks

A cesarean mother is highly likely to feel better after 2 weeks. Same goes with women who had a multiparous pregnancy, at week 2 they could have the ability to walk a mile again.

Despite of that, she is still required to take a postpartum check – up for the following purposes:

  • Examine the incised area if it [excessively] swells, still appears red, or show any signs of being infected
  • If the patient suffers from a high fever (about more than 100.4 degree

Also, her abdomen will still look like she is still pregnant.

After 4 weeks

After 4 weeks, a cesarean mother is likely to resume to her normal pacing and movements [such that of taking longer walks] and vaginal bleeding tapers off, though this will still vary.

After 6 weeks

  • During this week, a cesarean mother is [likely to be] fully healed, especially those who are healthy before the surgery can recover quickly. In fact, the full recovery timeline for this major abdominal surgery can range between 4 – 6 weeks
  • Though some women may still feel pain if the incision area is disturbed. On the bright side, most part of the wound is totally healed
  • The sutures are 50% absorbed
  • Uterus has likely shrink to its pre – pregnancy size
  • A cesarean mother can now resume to her normal activities including sex

The right time to breastfeed

A cesarean patient can start breastfeeding her newborn in the recovery room right after surgery. In fact, some nurses guide the mother to feed the baby in a side – lying position or by using the football hold, as to avoid pressure on the incision area.

Breastfeeding can be challenging in the days due to the pain around the incision area. That said, ask a lactation consultant to help with the right position to avoid pressure on the incision area and having sore nipples afterwards.

The right time to resume to normal and daily activities

A cesarean patient is advisable to increase physical activity as quickly as possible, as long as she can tolerate the pain. An increase in activity brings the following benefits below:

  • Blood circulation
  • Bowel function
  • Helps in getting back to her normal baseline

The aftercare for c – section mothers

Once a cesarean patient leaves the hospital, she must need to take care of herself without the aid of the hospital staff by doing the following:

Keep the incision area undisturbed

Always makes sure to keep the incision area undisturbed by keeping the wound clean, as to avoid various infections which may lead to further complications.

Wear a sanitary pad

For sanitary purposes, wear a sanitary pad to absorb the lochia flow (also known as postpartum vaginal bleeding) for at least 6 weeks.

Take note to not use tampons as an alternative to sanitary pads.

Intravenous fluid regulation

Intravenous fluid regulation is controlling the amount of fluids administered to a patient’s veins [in the arms]. An IV fluid is usually given an hour after the cesarean delivery.

Urinary catheterization

Urinary catheterization is the process of draining the urine from the bladder for collection. This is done due to the following purposes:

  • Lessens the chances of going to the bathroom
  • Reduces the sensation of the need to urinate

Ask help when lifting and/or carrying the newborn baby

A newly cesarean mother is not advisable to lift anything that is heavier than the baby. In line with this, she must ask help whenever she wishes to lift or carry her baby for breastfeeding sessions.

Take medications

  • Anti – gas medications (such as Simethicone) – for postoperative bloating and gas
  • Stool softeners

Eat a nutritious diet

  • Fiber – rich foods – include fiber – rich foods to help the interrupted bowel movement get back to its normal pacing
  • Drink lots of fluids (such as prune juice)

Get plenty of bed rest

Get plenty of bed rest right after the surgical operation to regain strength and energy.

Proper incision care after surgery

During bath time

Here is the proper way on taking a bath with an incision wound:

  • Do not scrub the incision area, just let the soapy water run down on it
  • Pat dry
  • If the skin folds over the incision area, place a cloth pad on it to avoid it from getting sweaty

Scar – reducing ointment

Any incision is going to leave a scar, and the outcome of the scar depends on a woman’s genetics. A cesarean mother is recommended to use a scar – reducing ointment to soften the appearance.

Topical skin adhesive

A topical skin adhesive is a wound closure device. It is made up of liquid cyanoacrylate monomers that polymerize into solid shackles to keep the wound edges intact.

When to call the doctor

A cesarean mother must call the doctor immediately if she experiences the following:

  • High fever
  • Incision area becomes red
  • Incision area has green or pus – colored liquid