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C-section Recovery Tips

What is a C-section Delivery?

A Cesarean delivery, also known as a C-section, is a surgical birthing method that is performed by creating incisions in an expecting mother's uterus and abdominal wall. While considered to be generally safe, C-sections are attributed with more risks than traditional vaginal births. Yet, from a recovery timeline standpoint, women who have a C-section performed are typically able to leave hospital care sooner, and recover faster than traditional vaginal delivery.

Similar abdominal surgeries include:

  • Appendectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the appendix
  • Hernia surgery: A surgical procedure to repair an inguinal hernia
  • Laparotomy: An exploratory surgery that may or may not be followed by the repair or removal of organs like the bladder, spleen, or liver.
  • Hysterectomy: A surgical procedure to removal the uterus that may also involve removal of the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and other surrounding structures.

C-Section Recovery Tips

How Will a Patient Feel After C-section Delivery?
After delivery a patient can expect to feel a range of emotions. This is completely normal, after all, as they just welcomed a new life into the world! But it is important to keep in mind that they are set to recover from major abdominal surgery. In addition to handling the other aspects of postnatal recovery. Make sure to reinforce that they take their recovery process, both mentally and physically, one step at a time.

Understanding the Recovery Timeline
Their patient recovery timeline will be specific to how their body responds to the healing process. Though, one of the reasons mothers often elect to have a C-section is due to the quicker recovery time. Typical in-hospital recovery time for C-sections range between two to four days before a patient is allowed to go home.

It is important to note that a patient’s C-section recovery does not end when they exit the hospital, however.  As recovery from C-section surgery is measured in weeks, not days. C-section healing takes time, so taking care of both the new mother, and her newborn is what is important. This time can be overwhelming, so make sure the mother knows that she can lean on others for help, especially if there are other children. Family members and friends may need to be called on to help assist in the day-to-day activities with the other children.

The C-Section Healing Process
Treating a C-section incision with care is key to its healing process. Fatigue and discomfort are common occurrences during the C-section recovery process, so go at a pace the patient is comfortable with, and let them take their time. This is encouraged to help promote healing and should be done confidently.

Take it Easy and Rest Whenever Possible
Always keep in mind that this is not just childbirth recovery, but abdominal surgery recovery as well. So try to keep everything that the patient may need within arm’s reach during their first couple days. As stretching for items is not an option for the new mother. Additionally, make sure to reinforce that they should avoid lifting anything too heavy for the first couple of weeks.

Make Sure to Support the Abdomen
This means making sure they using good posture when they walk and stand. Instruct them to hold their incision during any sudden movements, like laughing, coughing, or sneezing. Additionally, make sure if they were tasked with continued C-section wound care by their doctor, to change their gauze pads, medical tape, wound dressings and other wound care products regularly. Care options are also specific to how the incision was sealed. Learn more about how to care for stitches, staples, and more.

Seek Pain Relief
As long as it is approved by the primary healthcare professional, heating pads, pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and other medications to relieve pain are allowed. Make sure patients check with their doctor if unsure a pain reliever is safe during the postnatal process.

Did you know? Walking gets the blood circulating and helps the healing process.

Tips for Avoiding C-section Infection

Signs of Infection after C-section Surgery

Each year, 6%-8% of C-section incisions wind up becoming infected. Contact the primary caregiver right away if any of these signs of C-section infection appear:

  • Swelling, warmth, redness, or oozing at the site of the incision.
  • Sudden moments of pain, continuous, or worsening pain after first few days.
  • A fever. If a fever begins and continues, contact the primary health professional right away, even if the incision does not look infected.
  • Foul smelling odorous vaginal discharge.
  • Burning and/or pain during urination, the frequent urge to urinate without having to, or if urine is dark and/or bloody.

Additionally, contact the primary caregiver right away if any of these signs of a blood clot appear:

  • Severe or persistent pain or tenderness and warmth in one area of the patient’s leg.
  • One leg that is more swollen than the other.

What will the C-section Scar be like?

At first, a C-section scar will be raised slightly, and may be darker and puffier than the rest of the patient’s skin. However, over time the scar will begin to shrink, with the most significant healing occurring during the first six weeks post-surgery.

Typically, a C-section scar is only about 1/8 inch wide and 4 to 6 inches long. As the C-section incision heals, the scar will begin to start matching their regular skin color, and will narrow to about 1/16 inch in width. Their scar may become itchy during the healing process, reassure them that this is completely normal. However, if  there is excessive itchiness, contact the primary medical provider to learn what remedies they would suggest for itch relief.

Need additional wound care information? Call our nurse hotline at 1-800-526-3967 Monday through Friday EST (8am-8pm) to talk to a nurse and discuss additional information about surgical recovery time. Or consult with a doctor with any additional questions.

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