How to Take Care of Yourself After a C-Section
After a C-section, women need to take great care of themselves, even much more than those who went through vaginal delivery. In this article, we’ll tell you why it’s necessary to take into account so much care after a cesarean section. In addition, we’ll talk about other details related to the issue that are important for your to know about.
Being an invasive procedure, cesarean sections are associated with a large number of complications, not only during the operation itself but also after it. That’s why women who undergo this surgery must take certain special care and follow some specific recommendations.
Why do women require special care after a C-section?
The answer is simple: Because cesarean sections are basically a surgical intervention with the dangers and vulnerabilities of other medical operations. Although they’re the alternative that doctors must opt for in order to deliver a child when a problem with vaginal delivery appears, they’re not without risks.
It’s important to mention that recovery after a cesarean section is much slower than that of a normal delivery. There are women who after a few hours of giving birth through an uncomplicated delivery can walk and practically resume their life routines. In contrast, after a C-section, women need weeks to fully recover.
Another point to note is that some experts believe that the incisions in the woman’s belly never heal internally, so she must always take this particularity into account and avoid, for example, carrying excessive weights or even giving birth in future pregnancies.
However, such a claim has now been shown to be false through multiple studies. In fact, a publication in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that vaginal delivery after cesarean decreases maternal morbidity and reduces the chance of complications in a future pregnancy.
The same care that’s taken after any operation is that which must be put into practice after a C-section. Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
1. Rest, but keep walking and stay active
Without a doubt, after the birth of a baby, rest is what your mothers have the least time for. However, you have to know that, after a C-section, a new mom must receive the support of their entire family, both to contribute to her rest as well as to help with the constant care that she and her baby need.
Women who are in this situation should rest as much as possible and take at least one nap during the day, also taking advantage of their child’s sleep. This is the only way to recover in a timely manner.
But although it may seem like a paradox, just as women need to get plenty of rest after a C-section, they also need to be careful not to undergo full rest or adopt a sedentary lifestyle.
The physical exercise they do by walking will help them maintain blood circulation and prevent blood clots from forming in their belly. In fact, research published in 2021 showed that women who walked less after a cesarean section were more likely to suffer complications.
So, the formula is to get up, take care of your baby, carry it, breastfeed it, change its diaper, and dedicate time to yourself by walking slowly and with a lot of patience; and get enough rest when you can so as not to overexert yourself.
2. Eat healthy
When you’re in the process of recovery, you need to eat a balanced but nutrient-rich diet. This will also have a positive effect on the quality of the milk you produce for your child. In fact, a recent study establishes that cesarean sections have a detrimental effect on early lactation, so increasing the quality of milk with feeding can have great benefits.
Avoid junk foods as well as spicy and overly seasoned foods that can cause constipation that makes bowel movements difficult and painful.
3. Don’t do any lifting or have sex
New mothers who’ve had a cesarean section should not do any lifting, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t carry their newborns. Your baby’s weight shouldn’t harm you. However, excessive weight is totally contraindicated during the first weeks after the intervention.
At the same time, any type of sexual contact should be avoided until the doctor indicates that it’s safe. Sex often puts a lot of pressure on the pelvis, which could be harmful. The use of tampons or douching isn’t recommended either.
4. Be alert to certain signs
Any of the symptoms that we mention below will indicate that you should visit your gynecologist immediately, as they indicate that you may be experiencing a problem associated with the cesarean section.
- Excessive pain in the vaginal area
- Oozing of the cesarean section scar
- Heavy vaginal bleeding accompanied by pain
- Edema in the legs
5. Clean the wound properly
After a C-section, keeping the wound clean is essential in order to prevent the onset of infection and to promote healing. Fortunately, the care of the incision is very simple: It should only be washed with water and neutral soap once a day and then dried with a gauze using gentle movements.
The wound should be covered with a dressing that allows it to breathe in order to adequately control moisture. In addition, you should be aware of any changes in the wound that suggest the presence of an infection, such as increased temperature, inflammation, or oozing from a stitch. If you notice these symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately.
Specialists recommend keeping the wound dry and changing the dressings in case of spilling any substance. In addition, you shouldn’t apply any type of natural remedy to the area.
What symptoms are normal after cesarean section?
The following symptoms are considered to be normal and aren’t a cause for concern:
- Numbness in the area around the wound.
- Itching in the area around the stitches (this is a sign that they’re healing).
- Observing a range of colors around the wound: Bluish, yellow, greenish, lilac… these colors are similar to those that appear after receiving a blow to the legs, for example. Just the same, they shouldn’t be a cause for concern for postpartum women because they’re associated with the manipulation that this area underwent during the surgical intervention.
- Mild vaginal bleeding or lochia, which should stop being bloody in the first 24 to 48 hours.
Special care after a C-section guarantees a speedy recovery
As you can see, there’s a series of factors you need to take into account in order to care for yourself after a cesarean section. Fortunately, they’re things that you can carry out without much difficulty. Most of them focus on maintaining adequate hygiene of the surgical wound and promoting healing.
However, you should keep in mind that whenever you notice any discomfort or alarming changes, you should consult your doctor. The specialist will be able to identify and correct any pathological situation in a timely manner.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 205: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Delivery. Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Feb;133(2):e110-e127.
- Engel O, Haikin Herzberger E, Yagur Y, Hershko Klement A et al. Walking to a better future? Postoperative ambulation after cesarean delivery and complications: A prospective study. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2021 Jul 2.
- Zhang F, Cheng J, Yan S, Wu H, Bai T. Early Feeding Behaviors and Breastfeeding Outcomes After Cesarean Section. Breastfeed Med. 2019 Jun;14(5):325-333.
- Macones GA, Caughey AB, Wood SL, Wrench IJ et al. Guidelines for postoperative care in cesarean delivery: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Society recommendations (part 3). Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Sep;221(3):247.e1-247.e9.
- Fuchs F, Benhamou D. Post-partum management after cesarean delivery. Guidelines for clinical practice. J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 2015 Dec;44(10):1111-7.
- Quinlan JD, Murphy NJ. Cesarean delivery: counseling issues and complication management. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Feb 1;91(3):178-84.