Pregnancy

Recovering from Caesarean

caesarian_babyspaceMedical professionals most commonly call Caesarean section as Lower Segment Caesarean Section (LSCS). This is a surgical operation to deliver the baby by making a cut in the front of a woman’s abdomen and womb.

According to the history of caesarean, Roman rulers had a law namely La Caesarea which meant that if the mother died and the baby in the tummy was still alive, her tummy should be cut and the baby should be taken out thereby saving the baby’s life (known as prolife).

Modern scientific knowledge is that if the birth of the baby by birth canal is hazardous to the baby or the mother’s pelvis, delivering through the abdomen is a safe operation if done by a skilled surgeon.

Learn more about how caesarean section differs from normal labour

What would you feel after the C- section?

Caesarean section is a routine operation that leaves you with two wounds, one at the abdomen and other at the uterus. This needs time to heal, both physically and mentally as some women can have a psychological impact of a bad experience. Initially you will feel some of these symptoms;

  • Exhaustion and heavy sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Itchiness all over the body may occur for some women
  • Pain at the operation site

Some of these issues could also be due to the side effects of medications given for managing pain, and also side effects of the anaesthesia given during the operation. Headaches and backaches are common after spinal anaesthesia. However, it may help to speak to your doctor about any difficulty you are having

How long will it take to get back to normal?

Since you have a deep cut, it will take about 6 weeks to heal all the tissues. During this period, basic activities such as gently walking about and caring for yourself and your newborn should be possible. However, strenuous activities such as are best avoided until you are completely healed.

  • Exercising
  • Carrying heavy things
  • Driving a vehicle

What should you do to help yourself heal?

  • Take your medicine on time. You will be given antibiotics if necessary and painkillers when you leave the hospital. It is best to take them since if you don’t, the pain may create difficulties when trying to care for your child and you may even end up with pain related psychological effects.
  • Don’t panic if you cannot perform your bodily functions normally. Most women find the acts of urinating and defecating difficult. This is because of the urinary catheterization (small tube inserted into the urethra) and also because of the medication involved. Anti-gas medication and suppositories maybe prescribed by the doctor as remedies for constipation. In order to help pass urine, it may help to open a tap so you can hear the water flow, and blow into a straw while sitting on the toilet. Drinking a lot of fluid and roughage containing food and going to the toilet regularly may help.
  • Walk about. Given the level of exhaustion and pain you feel, you may want to just lie in bed for as long as possible. The freedom of moving around in fact makes most mothers feel happy. However, be sure to have someone nearby in case you feel dizzy or weak. But it has been proven that getting up slowly (take it slow so as to not tire yourself out) and, walking about as soon as possible after the surgery actually aids recovery in the following ways:
    • Decreases your chances of having blood clots (Deep vein thrombosis)
    • Assists bowel movement
    • Boosts your blood circulation
  • Have extra pillows handy. Your incision will hurt when you move.You can reduce the pain by hugging a pillow when you cough, laugh, and sneeze or during any other sudden movements. This is mainly to avoid strain on the abdominal muscle.
  • Keep a balanced diet. You will be given liquids and will be started on a light diet about 8 hours after your C- section. After that, be sure to eat a lot of nutritious food including vegetables and green leaves and drink a lot of water. If you suffer from constipation, eating fruits such as papaya an hour before your meal would help.

Can you breast feed after a C- section?

  • Yes, you can breast feed after a C-section. Do not avoid taking your medication. Although the antibiotics and the painkilling medication do pass into the breast milk, this is in very small amounts because the quantity of milk produced during the first few days is low. Therefore, the amount consumed by your baby would also be almost negligible. Avoiding medication will have more disadvantages than advantages as complications may ensue.
  • After a C-section, a common problem is that it is difficult to get the milk flowing. Be patient. Put your baby to the breast as soon as possible to stimulate the production of milk You can learn more about breast feeding from our breast feeding section on the site.
  • It is important that you find a good position in which to breast feed that does not put pressure on your incision. The normal “cradle hold” position may not work for mothers just after a C-section. Some positions that can be tried are;
    • Side lying position: you and your baby should both be lying on your sides, face to face
    • Football hold: sit upright in a chair and place your baby on a pillow between your arm and your side. This means that the baby’s body would not be on your lap, but under your arm

Read more about Breast feeding techniques

When should I seek medical help?

Seek medical help immediately if you experience any of the following difficulties;

  • There is warmth, redness, swelling or a discharge at the incision site
  • You feel a sudden and unusual pain in your abdomen, neck, leg, chest  or anywhere in your body
  • You develop a fever
  • There is difficulty in urinating or pain and a burning sensation when you urinate or if your urine is of an unusual colour

Above all, try to take things easy. Do not forget that you have just undergone a major surgery. You are going to be in a lot of pain and exhausted. Therefore, do not try to be “super-mum.” Get as much help as possible from your husband, other family members, and friends and there is no need to feel guilty for accepting help.

As a husband, how can you help your wife who has been through a C-section?

  • During the drive back home from the hospital, drive very slowly and carefully with minimum bumps. Your wife has just had an operation and every sudden movement is going to be painful.
  • Get a low stool to help her climb on to bed. Using the stomach muscles after a C- section can be very painful. All sorts of bending activities should be avoided for a few days. Having a step stool will help her climb into bed with minimal effort.
  • Try to prop up her chair, sofa or wherever she is sitting with pillows. Again, the aim is to prevent her from bending more than necessary. When sitting down on a normal chair, you have to bend in order to sit. For a woman just after a C- section, this is painful. So propping it up with cushions and pillows will help her sit without bending too much.
  • Your wife is going to be exhausted so be observant and try to help around the house and with the baby as much as possible. At some moments, you will notice some minor depression, which can be associated with post-partum blues, do not worry, as mood changes are common.
  • It is normal for a woman to be an emotional roller coaster after giving birth, whether it is vaginally or by C- section. Be supportive and understanding. If you however think your wife is experiencing an extreme case of depression, you might want to check with your doctor to make sure she is not suffering from post natal depression

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