Did you know that 1 out of 3 women who give birth in the United States decide to get a C-section? Because of this significant statistic, there is a lot of information about how C-sections are performed and how to recover afterward. However, what should you know about C-sections and recovery?
If you plan on delivering a child via C-section or know someone who is going to, you should know all about C-section recovery week by week. Fortunately, this article will help to answer all of your questions on this topic. We will explore the C-section procedure, what you should expect from recovering after a C-section, and what materials you might need to help speed along your recovery.
We will also see how long it might take to heal after a C-section. To begin, let's take a closer look at what a C-section is and what the procedure is like. By knowing more about this information, you can better plan ahead and know what to expect for your own C-section.
What Is A C-Section And Why Is It Important
A C-section is also known as a cesarean section or cesarean delivery. C-sections are not performed on everyone for various reasons. For one, there can be risks associated with C-sections if they are not performed well.
However, more often than not, women receive C-sections because they are necessary due to pregnancy complications. In this case, delivering the baby vaginally may be dangerous to the baby and the mother, so a C-section would be the ideal choice. C-sections are not usually planned by first-time parents because pregnancy complications arise later on during the pregnancy.
There are many types of pregnancy complications that may warrant a C-section delivery. One of the most common reasons for a C-section is when a woman's labor is not progressing which can happen if the cervix does not dilate as much as it should, preventing the delivery of the baby. If a C-section is not performed in this case, there could be fatal consequences for the mother and the baby.
Another type of complication solved with a C-section is when the baby is incorrectly positioned for delivery. Instead of the baby pointed head-down in the womb, the baby's feet or backside may point downwards instead, making it difficult or impossible to deliver the baby. With a C-section, the baby can be safely removed from the womb.
In some cases, however, a C-section may be planned. This might be the case for women who have already had a C-section in the past and want to deliver their next baby in the same way. Some women who have never had children before may request to deliver their baby via a C-section as well.
Preparing For The C-Section Procedure
Preparing for a C-section is an important part of the C-section process since it can help make sure that the procedure goes as smoothly as possible. In the case where you are planning to have a C-section, your doctor may want to make sure you are in good health for the procedure. This might include your doctor requesting blood tests in case you need a transfusion of blood during the procedure.
Before a C-section, it is important that your body is clean. This can help reduce the risk of infection. Use antiseptic soap to clean yourself at most a day before your procedure and do not shave any of the hair surrounding the area that will be affected by the C-section.
At the hospital, you will likely have a catheter inserted into your urethra to collect any urine. The lower part of your body will be rendered numb with regional anesthesia so you will not be able to feel the incision once it's made.
This regional anesthesia occurs via an epidural which blocks the nerves in the lower part of your body from feeling any sensation. Only if an emergency occurs will general anesthesia be the option to render you unconscious. After all these steps, only then can the C-section procedure begin.
During The C-Section Procedure
C-section deliveries can vary according to the unique circumstances of your pregnancy, but most C-sections include a certain number of steps. The first step, after disinfecting your abdomen, is making an incision that can either be horizontal or vertical.
The horizontal incision will usually run just above your pubic hair. As for the vertical incision, it will usually run from above your pubic hair to your navel. Most C-sections are performed using a horizontal incision, also known as the bikini cut, as it is relatively easy to perform and easy for the woman to hide the scar once the incision heals. When an emergency occurs, the vertical incision is opted for instead because it provides more room for the doctor to deliver the baby faster.
Whichever the incision method, the incision will involve your doctor cutting through your skin and muscle so the womb, also known as the uterus, can separate. Once the muscles separate, another incision is also made in the womb which gives access to the baby inside. From here, the doctor can remove the baby without any issues.
Along with the baby, the placenta remaining inside the womb is also removed and the umbilical cord is cut. Afterward, the incision made on the womb is sewn up followed by the incision in the muscles. This is usually done with the use of staples or stitches.
Afterward, you will be able to meet your new baby and you will be able to start the process of recovery. Speaking of recovery, let's take a closer look at some C-section recovery tips and what the cesarean section recovery process looks like.
Understanding C-section Recovery Week by Week
One of the first questions you might have about the recovery process is: how long does it take to recover from a C-section? The answer is that it depends on your individual health and C-section experience. However, on average, most women recover completely from a C-section around 6 weeks.
C-section recovery can take longer depending on what kind of activity the new mother is doing following the procedure. For example, for the first few days of recovery, the mother should avoid any strenuous activity.
This is important as activity can cause the stitches to tear and start bleeding. This can make it easier for harmful bacteria to enter the incision and cause an infection. Instead, mild and gentle activity should be opted for instead.
You might be wondering what you should expect directly after the C-section procedure. Out of all the tips for recovering after a cesarean section you'll find in this article, it is important to know that you won't have to do much worrying within the first hour of recovery. This is because you will be in the hospital under the watchful eyes of doctors and nurses.
The medical staff will make sure your incisions are not bleeding and they will also monitor your fluids and blood pressure. As mentioned before, you will already have a catheter inserted to collect any urine. This is important because you will not need to go to the bathroom, the movement of which could interfere with the healing.
You will likely still not be able to feel the lower half of your body because of the anesthesia, but you should not worry about this since it will wear off with time. The medication may also make you feel drowsy, but if you have the energy, you can hold your new baby.
One Day Into Your C-section Recovery
One day after your C-section, you will find that the process will become a little different. In fact, even a few hours after the procedure, as long as you did not suffer any complications during the pregnancy or C-section, you should be able to be transferred from the post-operation unit to the postpartum recovery area.
You will not be able to eat solid foods yet as they might interfere with your healing process. Instead, you can drink liquids and consume broth or other liquid nutrients. Your doctor will tell you at what point you can start eating solid foods again.
Some of the medical personnel may help you to massage your uterus. Since your uterus was just operated on, this can be an uncomfortable experience, but it's necessary to ensure that it returns to its original size. You will also be able to start walking around the hospital.
As mentioned before, strenuous activity is not recommended while recovering. However, walking can be good for your body's overall blood flow. When your body has good blood flow, you will be able to heal much more quickly compared to how fast you might heal when sitting around.
An unfortunate part of your first day recovering is that you may experience increased amounts of pain. This is because the anesthesia will be wearing off at this point and you will regain sensation in the lower part of your body again. This does not mean you will spend long periods of time suffering.
Instead, you will be given pain medication until it's time to leave the hospital. Once you leave the hospital, you should be in minimal pain and only require some over-the-counter pain medication.
Two To Four Days Into Recovery
At this point, you should be able to start reintroducing solid foods into your diet again. You will also be allowed to take a shower to clean off your incision, but be careful not to wash the incision by hand. Instead, allow the flow of the shower's water to do it naturally.
You will find that a pad will be necessary to wear to catch any extra bleeding. Later on, when your bandages are removed, you may find it helpful to wear a belly binder or similar garment as well in order to make sure your stitches heal properly.
A C-section recovery kit may prove to be especially helpful as it can come with everything you need for your recovery journey. This can include everything from pain medication and stool softeners to instructions on how to heal and strengthen your pelvic floor, depending on which kit you get.
By day four, your incision will have healed enough that your stitches or staples can be removed. Your doctor will also tell you how to keep your incision clean and what you should and shouldn't do when recovering. For example, one of the most common forms of advice is to not lift anything heavy until after you are six weeks into your recovery process.
You should also avoid driving and climbing or descending stairs. By avoiding these activities, you will be able to heal faster and lower the risk of complications.
Two, Four, and Six Weeks Into Recovery
During week two, you will check-up with your doctor. At this point, any swelling around the incision will have reduced. Any pain and discomfort should have also decreased, as will have the size of your uterus.
By week four, you will notice an increased ability to move and walk around. This does not mean you are free to run up and down the stairs as much as you want just yet. Instead, focus on gentle movements and slowly make your way up to the way you would normally move.
You will notice less bleeding at this point as well. However, don't be worried if you feel tired at this point since it's only a sign that your body is still recovering.
By six weeks, you should be healed. At this point, you will be able to return to your normal activities.
All About C-section Recovery
You now know all about what to expect from C-section recovery week by week. If you plan on getting a C-section, you can better prepare for the procedure and its recovery process.
To learn more, explore more of our c-section recovery products here.