Recovering at Home
Several days after your baby is born — usually four or so — your doctor will remove your staples or tapes. If you have sutures on the skin they will dissolve over time by themselves, and do not have to be removed. You'll be discharged. If you go home before your staples or tapes are removed (as many women do) your doctor will want you to come into his office to remove them on around day four. This can be a huge and exhausting undertaking so soon after birth and surgery. Call ahead to check that the doctor is on time with his scheduling so you won't have to wait too long. Rest before you go, and go right back home to bed. Even after you've been released from the hospital, you've still got a lot of healing to do.
How You'll Feel
Your incision will continue to be tender, and you may need to continue taking prescription pain medication for the first week or so, and then an over-the-counter drug like Tylenol or Motrin after that. You should feel a little better every day. If your incision starts to look or feel worse — swelling, oozing, or getting redder — or it feels warm, the pain gets worse, or you experience any fever, you should call your care provider right away. These could all be signs of infection.
Just like if you'd given birth vaginally, your body will discharge lochia for up to six weeks. It should go from bright red to pink or brown in the first week, and then gradually turn yellowish-white. If bright red bleeding persists past the first four days or if your bleeding turns bright red after having faded to pink or brown, call your care provider, and cut back on your activities.
Rest, Gentle Exercise, and Nutrition
You'll need to rest a lot at home, but getting up and moving around is essential to promote healing and prevent excessive gas, constipation, and other complications like blood clots. Any gas and bloating should get better as you continue to get up and move around. Don't forget to drink plenty of water and eat foods with fiber — whole grains, fruits, and vegetables — to avoid constipation.
You'll want to wait until you get clearance from your care provider before you start any kind of exercise besides gentle walking or Kegel exercises. You'll probably get the OK for pelvic tilts and other gentle abdominal exercises, but will have to hold off on crunches and more strenuous workouts. Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby for the first six to eight weeks after delivery. After six to eight weeks, you should be feeling much better, though pain and numbness at the site of your scar may persist for some time.
Ask for Help
You're going to need help once you get home. If you're single or your partner will be returning to work shortly, ask for help from family members and friends. Paid help, if you can afford it, may be very useful. See Chapter 1 for ideas on getting help. Don't forget, your only roles right now should be caring for your baby and yourself. Housework and caring for older children should be someone else's job while you're recovering.
When will I be able to have sex again after a c-section?
You'll probably be able to resume sexual intercourse around week six, after your caregiver gives you the go-ahead. You may find that positions that put pressure on your incision site are painful or uncomfortable. Visit Chapter 16 for more tips on having an enjoyable postpartum sex life.
Your Incision Scar
Most c-section scars are horizontal and low on the abdomen, far below the waistband of your underwear or bikini bottom. Your scar will be raised, puffy, and darker than your skin at first, but will begin to shrink after a few weeks. Eventually, the scar will be very narrow (about of an inch wide), and nearly the same color as your skin. Some women find that they have a “flap” of skin over their c-section scar. You may be able to help this flap shrink or go away with good diet and exercise, but it may stick around.