csection recovery
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  • Obstetrics
  • 08.07.24

How to look after yourself after a C-section

Every pregnancy is different, and so is every post-C-section recovery journey. Whether you have a planned caesarean or it’s an emergency, the road to recovery requires careful attention and proactive self-care. 

At Grace Private, our team of Gold Coast obstetricians, midwives, and nurses are dedicated to supporting you throughout your pregnancy and beyond. We understand the unique challenges that come with a C-section and provide personalised care and guidance to ensure you feel confident and empowered when you return home.

In this blog article, we’ll walk you through some essential information to ensure your recovery is as comfortable and supported as possible. 

After a C-section birth

After a C-section birth, the health and well-being of your baby will be checked. As soon as possible, your doctors will encourage you to cuddle your baby and engage in skin-to-skin contact right there in the operating theatre. This is a beautiful bonding experience and also helps to stabilise your baby’s temperature, heart rate and respirations and promote the initiation of breastfeeding, however, it isn’t always possible if your baby needs immediate attention at birth or if there are any anaesthetic concerns.  

Your hospital stay could range from 3 to 5 days, though this can vary depending on your individual circumstances. When you arrive home, it’s crucial to prioritise rest and recovery, as a caesarean section is a major surgical procedure.

Returning home after a C-section

After you return home, you will continue to experience a range of physical and emotional changes as your body adjusts to post-C-section recovery.

Bleeding: In the week after your C-section you will experience bleeding from where the placenta was attached to your uterus. Maternity pads will be essential, as tampons are not recommended for the first six weeks to prevent infection. Please also refrain from baths and swimming. Bleeding can be quite heavy in this first week, especially after moving about or after breastfeeding. However, if you are soaking through your pad within an hour and noticing lots of blood clots, a bad odour, or a tender uterus, please contact your doctor or midwife immediately.

Pain: Pain management is a crucial part of post-C-section recovery. In the beginning, everyday movements like coughing, laughing or showering can cause discomfort. Using pain relief ensures you can care for yourself and your baby comfortably. Your anaesthetist will prescribe pain medication tailored to your individual needs, to keep your pain levels manageable. 

Generally, a combination of simple analgesics such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen or diclofenac is used to alleviate mild to moderate pain. However, if your pain persists or becomes severe, we recommend having a chat with your midwife, or doctor for advice. Occasionally, oral opioids may be necessary for short-term pain relief, and your doctor will discuss this option with you if needed.

Wound care: Taking care of your C-section wound is an essential part of your recovery. Proper care will help prevent infection and ensure a smoother recovery. Your doctors will give you detailed instructions before you leave the hospital, so you know when to remove the dressing and how to recognise any signs of infection. 

In most cases, your C-section will be across, or just below your bikini line and will usually have dissolvable stitches or staples. Your wound will be covered by a waterproof dressing which should be left on for a few days; your doctors will let you know when it’s safe to be removed. 

When you have removed the dressing you can gently wash around the wound with water and pat it dry with a clean towel. Generally, it’s best to leave it uncovered to dry. While it is healing you might notice a little bruising, which is normal. Some itching or numbness is also common. Wearing loose clothing for the next six to 10 weeks can help relieve discomfort while you’re healing.

Physical activity: It’s important to take it easy for at least six weeks after a C-section, but this will vary depending on your individual circumstances. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your family and friends to receive some extra support during this time. It’ll be difficult to lift, stretch and bend as it puts strain on your wound – so hanging washing on the line, vacuuming and similar tasks may cause some discomfort. We recommend not lifting anything heavier than your baby.

Driving: Driving isn’t recommended in the first four to six weeks and many insurance companies won’t provide cover within this period unless you’ve been cleared to drive by your doctor. Please check with your insurance company prior to requesting a clearance to drive.

Sexual relationships: When it comes to sexual relationships, we recommend waiting until your 6 week discharge check-up before intercourse to reduce the risk of a uterine infection. There’s no rush, every woman’s recovery is different, so listen to your body and communicate openly with your partner about any discomfort or concerns. Some factors, such as pain, fatigue, or emotional readiness, may influence when you feel comfortable enough to resume sexual activity. 

Postpartum concerns

At Grace Private, we’re here to support you every step of the way. We schedule a six week postpartum check with the midwife and obstetrician to check on the healing process and your health and well-being. 

If you have any questions or worries after giving birth, you have a few options for seeking help. You can call the maternity ward, where our dedicated team is available to address your concerns and provide guidance, either over the phone or face to face if needed. We’re here to ensure that you receive the care and support you need, even up to six weeks after giving birth. Don’t hesitate to reach out – your well-being is our priority.

Childbirth after a C-section

It’s normal to have questions about further pregnancies after a caesarean, especially if it was an emergency. Generally, most women who have had one emergency C-section can still have a vaginal birth in subsequent pregnancies. 

Your Grace Private obstetrician will carefully evaluate your individual circumstances and discuss the best options for you based on factors such as the reason for your previous C-section and your current pregnancy. Whether you’re considering a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) or an elective repeat C-section, our team is here to provide the comprehensive guidance and support you need.

Support after a C-section with Grace Private

After a C-section, taking care of both your physical and emotional well-being should be your priority. If you find yourself in need of someone to talk to, our dedicated team at Grace Private is always here to offer the support and guidance you need. Together, we’ll help you embark on this journey with compassion, understanding, and expertise.

Whether your C-section was planned or an emergency, it’s normal to experience a spectrum of emotions after birth. Remember, all these feelings are valid, regardless of your circumstances. If you find yourself struggling with your emotions or simply need a listening ear, our team includes experienced psychologists who are adept at providing support and guidance postpartum. They can assist you in navigating your feelings, developing coping strategies to ensure your mental health remains a priority during this important period in your life.

Ready to start your journey with Grace Private? ‘Ask for Grace’ next time you visit your GP. 

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