Recovering after a C-section – emotionally and physically
It takes longer to recover from a caesarean birth than it does a vaginal delivery – usually around six weeks in total – so despite having a newborn to look after you do still need to make sure you have plenty of rest, and that you really take care of your post-op body!
At a glance
- It usually takes around six weeks to recover from a c-section
- Take things gently & slowly while recovering
- Use pillows to help you get comfortable while breastfeeding
Many mums are able to go home 24 hours after a C-section and have their after-care carried out at home, although some mums need two or three days in hospital. You should be up and out of bed fairly soon after the surgery though, and your dressing will usually be removed after a day although some hospitals use dressings designed to stay a little longer.
Depending on the circumstances of your caesarean, you may be feeling elated if it all went to plan, or upset if things didn't go to plan and the result was an emergency caesarean rather than vaginal birth. You should have an opportunity to talk to your midwife about how you feel before leaving the hospital and it’s a good idea to let them know if you are feeling upset about what happened.
Even if you’re feeling fine emotionally, do bear in mind you have had major abdominal surgery!
You can help your recovery time and make the process more comfortable by doing the following:
Wear loose fitting clothing and underwear – You’ll want to avoid putting too much pressure on your healing scar so it’s best to either wear underwear a size bigger or you can buy special knickers that fit over the area
Take things slowly - You might find your tummy feels quite sore doing mundane things like walking up and down stairs, and getting in and out of a chair or bed – so take things gently and slowly
Eat fibre-rich food – Eating food rich in fibre will help to avoid constipation and keep everything moving. Make sure that also drink plenty of fluids as this will help prevent constipation
Breastfeeding after a C-section
When you’re breastfeeding your baby, you might find it useful to have a cushion on your lap, or have your partner position baby for you to avoid putting pressure on your tummy for the first few weeks. Lying down to breastfeed, with plenty of support from pillows might also help you stay comfortable, or holding your baby under your arm, rather than across you.
Looking after yourself
Your midwife will give you advice on looking after your stitches and scar to help keep infection at bay, and give you painkillers to take if you are feeling any discomfort.
Most hospitals don’t now give take-home drugs like paracetamol and ibuprofen and instead tell patients to buy some, check with the pharmacist or midwife if you're concerned about pain relief.
If you drive, you might need to check for any restrictions on your car insurance policy about your cover after a C-section – some mums wait for their six-week check before getting back behind the wheel, but the best advice is to only do so when you feel comfortable and safe.
The same goes with anything that puts a strain on your stomach – exercise, lifting and housework! Talk things through with your midwife or health visitor if you are unsure at any stage – just do things at your own pace.