Recovery after a caesarean can take weeks, if not months. Having a caesarean (or c-section as it is commonly referred to) has a significant impact on the physical and mental health of a new mother.
If you’ve just had an emergency caesarean, or if you’re having one electively, you might be wondering what recovery after a caesarian is like. What can you expect, and how can you speed up the healing process?
Fortunately, there are a range of health and wellness methods you can try to recover more quickly after a caesarean. This article we’ll outline some of the support options available to you, as well as what to expect after your delivery.
What to expect in the first 24 hours after your C-Section delivery
The initial recovery after a caesarian is very similar to a vaginal birth, albeit with some additional challenges.
New mothers who have a caesarean delivery are at a higher risk of developing a blood clot in their leg. If you are able to walk in the first 24 hours after delivery, it’s important to get up and start moving around to help prevent blood clots from forming. If you are unable to walk, there are cuffs available that are designed to keep the blood moving in your legs.
In the first 24 hours of recovery after a caesarean, it is also very common to feel cramps or pain at the site of your incision. These cramps feel like more intense menstrual cramps. You can find relief from pain with a belly band or supportive pregnancy belt. This also helps to keep your incision clean and helps to prevent infection.
The first few weeks of recovery after a caesarean
In many cases, the doctor will use dissolvable stitches at your incision site. This means that you won’t have to worry about going back to the clinic to have them removed later on.
The risk of infection is highest during the first few weeks of recovery after a caesarean. Excessive or dangerous bleeding is also more likely at this time. It’s advised that new mothers recovering from C-section avoid driving for 4-6 weeks after giving birth. You should avoid exercising heavily for the first 6-8 weeks as well.
In terms of the incision site, it’s likely that your wound will feel quite sore for a week or two. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication, however it’s important to confirm that it’s safe to take while breastfeeding.
Again, in order to help relieve pain as your belly wound heals, we recommend supporting your tummy with a belly band. Belly bands support the muscles in your tummy, back and pelvis, helping to reduce the pain associated with recovery after a caesarean.
Longer term recovery after a caesarean
Recovery from a caesarian takes time, and for some mothers the healing process will take longer than expected. You may experience pain at the site of your belly wound for several months. Some mothers also struggle with incontinence after c-section delivery due to weakened pelvic floor muscles.
It’s important not to ignore your pain if it persists beyond your first postpartum appointment. A referral to an allied health specialist such as a physio may also help to support recovery after a caesarean.
When to book in with your doctor
During recovery after caesarean if you notice any of the following symptoms, book an appointment with your primary care doctor.
- Frequent headaches
- Feelings of anxiety or depression
- Intense uterine cramps
- Difficulty urinating
If you notice any of the following symptoms, head straight to your nearest emergency room:
- Bleeding or oozing at the site of your incision
- Bleeding that soaks through one or more tampons or pads in the space of an hour
- Significant calf pain
- Intrusive thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Tips to speed up recovery after a caesarean
The following tips can help you recover faster and manage your pain after giving birth via caesarean.
- Rest as much as possible. Rest aids the healing process, yet it can feel nearly impossible with a newborn in the house. Sleep as much as you can!
- Call on your community. Newborns are demanding, and it can get very overwhelming if you’re doing everything alone. Ask family, friends, and neighbours for support while you’re in recovery after a caesarian.
- Take regular gentle walks. Walking helps to reduce the risk of blood clots and is great for mental health also.
- Find relief from pain by using a belly band to support your tummy as it heals and help to prevent infections.
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