Recovery After a Caesarean Birth
If you have any questions, please speak to the midwife.
It is usual that following a caesarean you will feel discomfort. Walking and lifting can be quite painful, especially for the first few days. You will be given painkillers to help you with any pain while you’re in hospital, and don’t hesitate to ask when you need them. You will only be given painkillers that are safe to take while breastfeeding. Having a new baby is a wonderful time and you will want to pick them up and cuddle them as much as possible. When you get home keep taking your painkillers regularly while you need them so you can enjoy your time with your new baby.
For the 48 hours after your caesarean you will have a dressing over your wound. The dressing is waterproof, so you can bath or shower as normal. If you are worried about the dressing or think it needs to be changed, please ask your midwife for advice. Once the dressing has been removed, keep the wound clean and dry. It is fine to use soap in the shower or bath as long as you pat it dry afterwards. Pat the wound dry gently and do not rub with the towel. You may notice itching at the wound site a week or so after the operation. It is part of the normal healing process and nothing to worry about. If however you notice redness, discharge or increasing soreness at the wound site, it can be a sign of infection. Contact your midwife or doctor if you are concerned. A year or two after your operation, the scar will probably have faded to a faint line. It will always be a slightly different colour to your normal skin tone but may eventually be almost invisible. If you want to see what your scar may look like, visit www.caesarean.org.uk where you can see pictures of scars taken days, weeks, months or years after caesarean operations.
It is important to keep mobile to prevent a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the leg). Depending on your individual circumstances you may also be asked to wear special socks and have daily injections to help prevent thrombosis. Try to have a short walk around the house every two hours during the daytime, this can include going to the toilet or getting a drink or something to eat. As you recover you can include walking outside. If possible, go with someone else the first time you push the pram, as you may find it uncomfortable. Gradually increase the distance you walk.
Wear comfortable clothing
After a caesarean section you will find cotton underwear and loose clothing more comfortable to wear. Use underwear where the elastic doesn’t rest on top of your wound. Try dresses, and trousers or leggings that sit around your waistline rather than low down, or continue wearing your pregnancy clothes for a while longer. Anything that won’t rub or press on your scar – and remember, it’s not forever.
Get help from your friends & family
After a caesarean not only do you have to recover from the operation but you have a newborn baby to care for too, and you have to cope with the challenges of being a new mother. If you have friends and family who can help it’s well worth asking them to help out for a while with day to day chores such as shopping, cooking, washing, ironing and cleaning, although it doesn’t really matter if there’s a bit of dust around for a few days. If people come to visit, let them make their own cup of tea, and ask them to make you one at the same time.
You should avoid driving a car while you are recovering from your caesarean. For some women this may be six weeks or longer. As you have had abdominal surgery it is likely to be sore when you change gear or push the brake pedal, and you need to be able to move quickly to do an emergency stop. Please make sure you are well enough before you start driving and check that your insurance company is happy for you to drive.
Pelvic floor exercises
Do your pelvic floor exercises.
Planning for your next baby
It is advisable to avoid pregnancy for one year after your caesarean. When planning your next baby, you should be aware that you are very likely to achieve a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) – seven or eight women out of every ten who attempt VBAC have a vaginal birth. Find out more about a birth after a previous caesarean.
The likelihood rises to greater than eight out of every ten if you have had a vaginal birth with a previous child before your caesarean. The type of birth that is best for you and your baby will be discussed in detail during your next pregnancy but it is very rare for a woman not to be able to plan a VBAC.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/caesarean-section