Recovery from C-Section
Recovering from a C-section is similar in some ways to recovery from vaginal birth, since your body is recovering from carrying a baby; however, because you had surgery, recovery is more complicated. A hospital stay for a C-section averages three to four days, and total recovery takes about six weeks.
Just as with vaginal birth, you will have a heavy discharge for weeks after the birth, afterpains, sore breasts, constipation, and possibly hemorrhoids, as well as trouble urinating on your own. If you went through labor, your recovery may be more difficult because you're recovering from the surgery and the hard work of labor.
After a C-section, you will experience pain and discomfort around your incision when you try to move around. It can be helpful to hold a pillow against your abdomen when coughing, walking, or laughing to help reduce discomfort. It is important to get out of bed and move after the surgery, either the same day or the next day, to help prevent blood clots. The incision may burn and itch as it starts to heal, and this can last for several weeks. It is essential that you follow your doctor's instructions for caring for the incision, which will probably include keeping the wound clean and dry. It is likely you will have numbness at the site of the incision that in some cases can be permanent.
The hospital personnel will encourage you to do some breathing exercises to help clear your lungs after surgery. Digestive functioning may take some time to get moving again, and it's not uncommon to experience uncomfortable trapped gas. Because it takes time for digestion to resume normally, you will be placed on a liquid diet until you are able to pass gas. Getting up and moving around can help increase digestive functioning.
Contact your health-care provider immediately if you have any of the following in the weeks after birth: you experience a fever; soak more than one sanitary pad per hour; have increased redness around an incision or have pus; feel pain, swelling, or tenderness in your legs; experience coughing; have nausea; have unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge; experience increased pain; or you have redness on your breasts or cracked or bleeding nipples.
You'll be advised to avoid stairs and heavy lifting until your incision heals. You will probably be advised not to drive a car for about two weeks or until you are able to make sudden movements.
Your physician will most likely prescribe pain-relief medication for you after the surgery, which may at first be delivered intravenously (often by a pump you can control) and then switched to pills. Speak up about your pain, and don't be afraid to ask for more pain relief if you need it.