5 Do’s and Don’ts following a Cesarean Section (C-Section)

Published on 02/03/22

A cesarean delivery, otherwise known as a C-section, is a surgery used to deliver a baby. The procedure involves one incision in the abdomen (typically, just above the bikini line) and one incision in the uterus. C-sections can be planned ahead or used in an emergency. Commonly, C-sections are scheduled when a woman develops complications during pregnancy or she has had a prior C-section and isn’t considering a vaginal birth. This is known as an elective C-section. In emergency situations, C-sections are a last resort if a vaginal birth cannot happen.

Knowing what to expect during and after a C-section can help you prepare for your baby’s delivery. 

Reasons You May Need A Cesarean

Talk to your health care professional about the risks involved in a C-section if you are considering one. Here are some of the reasons a vaginal birth may not be an option:

  • In an emergency situation –  the baby isn’t getting enough nutrients or oxygen
  • Untreated HIV
  • Infections like gential herpes
  • Pregnancy-related high blood pressure
  • Placenta previa (a low-lying placenta)
  • The baby is feet first (breech position) and cannot be turned by gentle pressure
  • The mother is carrying multiple babies
  • The mother has had a previous C-section 

 

During The C-Section

If a C-section is necessary, the procedure begins with a spinal block or epidural anesthetic. This type of anesthetic is meant to numb the lower body while the mother remains awake. This allows the mother to meet her newborn soon after it is delivered. A screen is placed in front of the mother to prevent her from seeing the cesarean procedure while it’s happening. 

An incision is made above the bikini line about 4 to 6 inches long. The baby is then delivered within 10 to 15 minutes. The doctor then stitches up the wound with traditional or dissolvable stitches or staples. A C-section procedure generally takes about 45 minutes.

The cesarean procedure has been around for hundreds of years and is considered a very safe procedure. 

 

After The C-Section

After the C-section is complete, the doctor will transfer the mother into a recovery room where she can rest and find a comfortable position to begin breastfeeding her newborn. Meanwhile, a nurse or midwife will be checking her vitals and monitoring her recovery by:

 

  • Making sure the anesthetic is wearing off
  • Inserting an IV drip in her arm to be sure she’s getting enough nutrients and fluids until she is ready to consume food or a drink. 
  • Monitoring her wound dressing, blood pressure, breathing and pain relief
  • Reducing the chance of blood clots by using compression stockings 
  • Putting in a catheter to drain her bladder
  • Checking for vaginal bleeding and changing the maternity pad

After a C-section, the mother may stay at the hospital for roughly 3 to 4 days or until she feels okay to go home. Once she is ready to leave, she will be unable to drive, so arrangements for getting home will need to be made.

 

5 Do’s And Don’ts After a C-Section

Going back to your normal routine, pre-birth, will take time. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to heal. It’s normal to want to slip back into your old life habits and not feel restricted or unable to do things without someone’s help. Change can be hard! Unfortunately, taking things slow and allowing your body to recover is the best way to ensure a healthy and quick return to ‘regular’ life. Easing back into your routine will take time. Here are some top do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when recovering at home after your C-section.

5 Do’s

  1. Slow Down. Make sure to set all other things (household chores, etc.) aside so you can rest. This allows you to not only care for yourself, but also for your baby. Alleviating daily life pressures can give you the time you need to rest and bond with your newborn. You can return to regular physical activities when you are pain free and have more energy. 
  2. Incision Care Is Necessary. Be sure to care for your wound. Much like any surgery, injury, etc., avoiding infection and promoting healing can be done by caring for your wound. Make sure to wash the incision daily with soap and water and pat dry gently. Make sure all products used on or near your wound are approved by your doctor. 
  3. Pain Relief. Take your doctor’s advice on what to take for pain relief in the weeks following your cesarean. They will most likely recommend over-the-counter pain relievers readily available at supermarkets and pharmacies. 
  4. Eat Well and Drink Water. Keeping hydrated should be a part of your everyday life anyway, but the benefits of proper nutrition and fluids are vital when recovering from a C-section. 
  5. Listen To Your Doctor. Ask Questions. Follow your doctor’s guidelines to a tee and don’t take their instructions lightly. Ask your doctor about anything you are unsure about and always stick to the plan. It’s okay to ask for help!

 

5 Don’ts

After your cesarean procedure there are things you should absolutely avoid. Here are 5:

 

  1. Use Tampons or Douche. Wait at least 4 to 6 weeks post procedure. 
  2. Drive For 4-6 Weeks. Normally, doctors recommend that you wait until your incision is healed completely before you drive. This way you will not re-injure your healing wound. It is important that you are able to hit the brakes for an emergency stop without causing pain. 
  3. Have Sex. Your doctor is likely to advise you to avoid sex for 4 to 6 weeks after a C-section, just like a vaginal birth. This is to prevent infection.
  4. Have High Activity Levels. This includes a lot of things, but most definitely vigorous exercise. It is very important to move around as much as possible, meaning, a short walk outside or walking around the house. However, it’s important to not put too much pressure on your incision or add to your risk of blood clots. Basically, no strenuous exercise until your doctor clears you and you feel well enough to handle the pressure on your body. 
  5. Lift Anything Heavier Than Your Baby. However, if you do feel any pain while lifting your newborn, try to avoid picking him/her up. 

 

Recovery

Even though a cesarean section is a common abdominal surgery, it is still major surgery. You need time to heal and rest. If it’s possible, have someone stay with you to help with household chores, simple tasks, and to be there if you feel exhausted or light headed. As you gain your strength back, you can slowly start to go back to your life, pre-birth.

The time it takes to recover from an abdominal surgery like a cesarean can be dependent on a few different factors. However, most doctors agree it takes 4 to 6 weeks to recover fully and resume your regular activities. For activities like exercise and sex, it could take upwards of 6 to 8 weeks before you feel ready. Sometimes, depending on the person, their C-section recovery could take longer. 

The bottom line is: each person’s recovery is different. Some women recover slowly and others recover quickly. The time it takes to recover is not as important as taking good care of yourself. Giving your body what it needs at this time is crucial so that you can care for your baby.  

If You Want To Know More About Post-C-Section Recovery, Call Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine To Answer All Your Questions

There’s nothing more important than the health of you and your baby.

The team at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine and their doctors are experts in natural childbirth and cesarean births. If you have any questions about the C-section surgical procedure, call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City, or schedule an appointment online.

Talk to our team by phone or book an appointment online to get started. Call one of our six convenient NYC locations or schedule a video consultation online today. They’ve helped thousands of women. Come visit your NYC OBGYN.