Healing From A
Cesarean

Whether your c-section is planned or an emergency, recovery is an important, albeit painful, time. You want to be up and about, taking care of your new baby and recovering, but at the same time, you've just had major surgery and really need to take it easy.

Woman in Maternity WardIt cannot be said enough: A cesarean section is major abdominal surgery. A full recovery comes over a matter of months, not days, and sometimes that recovery can be difficult. So many everyday things, from getting out of bed to comfortably wearing pants, are affected by the surgery as well.

Dr. Victoria Garcia, an OB-GYN from Palmetto General Hospital, says typically, patients are cleared for all activities at their six-week post-op checkup. "Following a cesarean section it is safe to resume your regular activities such as intercourse, exercise, driving, and house chores on or after six weeks," says Garcia.

That said, recovery does come, with time and patience. Moms who've been there say that a positive attitude and the right tricks up their sleeves helped speed their recovery.

Take the meds

You likely will leave the hospital with one or two strong painkillers. Regardless of whether you can withstand period cramps sans Midol or grin and bear headaches without a Tylenol in sight, taking pain medication after delivery is an absolute must. Your abdomen will not just ache; it will hurt at times, and taking pain medication allows you to get moving on recovery without having the pain slow you down. "Take the pain medicine on time, even if you don't think you need it! It helps you manage the pain," says Cathy Hayes, mother of three.

Be patient with your bodily functions

One thing you seldom hear when people talk about c-sections is the impact it can have on your bodily functions. First of all, you and your bladder might not know each other as well at first. For some women, that means having difficulty peeing for the first time after surgery. It can feel like you forgot how to go, but fear not: You will remember (Tip: To help stimulate the right muscles, blow into a straw while sitting on the toilet.)

You also will have to contend with many questions about your ability to pass gas and/or poop, as the nurses assess whether your body is getting back to normal. "Your belly has been pumped full of gases and air during the c-section, so be prepared to take a lot of anti-gas medication and possibly even a suppository so that you can get rid of it. It's a painful and annoying process, but they won't let you leave the hospital until you have gone to the bathroom. In my case, I took a suppository, which was not as bad as it seemed, and was better in minutes. An experienced nurse should offer this to you if you're having trouble going to the bathroom," says Jackie Pobiega, whose 18-month-old son was born via c-section.

Get walking

In the hours after a cesarean, the last thing on your mind is getting out of the hospital bed. Between the pain of recovery and the fogginess that can accompany the medications, you could just lie there forever -- but don't! Getting up as soon as your medical professionals say it's okay is an important way to make that recovery happen faster. "After my first c-section, the nurses let me lie in bed until the day before I left the hospital. I had a very difficult recovery from that surgery. My second c-section, the nurses made me get out of bed that afternoon (I had my cesarean at 4 a.m.). While it hurt a lot, it made the recovery so much easier," says mom of two Jody Halsted.

Conquer the stairs

Before Hillary Morris had a c-section, a friend peppered her with pointers to help her recovery go more smoothly. Among the pointers was a great tip for tackling stairs, which are often unavoidable. "If stairs are unavoidable (in my case they were), walk up backwards so you are not inclined to stand up or use stomach muscles," says Hillary.

Befriend your pillow

Having lots of pillows around will be a boon for you when you are recovering from a c-section. Hugging the pillow while laughing or coughing will make the muscle motions associated with that much more tolerable. You also can use pillows to prop up baby and yourself. "Bring an extra pillow or two with you to the hospital. You will need a few to keep you still while you sleep (so you don't roll over onto your incision) and a few to place on your belly to keep it braced when you cough, yawn etc. If you plan on nursing, bring another pillow to keep baby up off your belly and closer to your breast," says mom of four Linsey Knerl.

Read more on c-sections:

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Comments

Comments on "C-section recovery tips"

Monika March 03, 2014 | 7:30 PM

As someone who had not one, but two sections and happens to be maternity nurse all I can say is that it doesn't need to be TERRIBLE. Take your meds,get walking and drink warm fluids. Laying on your left side when you are in bed is a great way to get rid of gas , and don't be afraid to tell people you need to rest and that they can visit later. You had major abdominal surgery, and your need to heal is greater than their need to visit! Also keep a positive attitude. Its always the woman who tell me a csection was their WORST nightmare that lay in bed and get distended from gas.

Rachel September 25, 2013 | 5:00 AM

Postpartum abs are soft. Postpartum csection abs are nuts! It feels like your insides will roll right onto the floor if you don't hold them in, for that reason an abdominal binder was a HUGE help! I was given on at my hospital-they actually put it on me in the OR. Having your arms free to help stand and sit(yes the potty was very hard to get on and off of for me)was helpful. Make sure you ask about them at the hospital or bring one if you expect a csection.

Jane July 30, 2013 | 1:24 PM

I had to have a second c section.... Recovery was so painful... I started to move my feet as soon as imcould reel them and i was trying to make myself mobile as quick as possible.... But it did not work. My whole stomach is bruisd , belly button is burning and my first visit to th toilet was an excrutiating experience where the nurse was holding me in straight position. I have ended up on antibiotics because of an infection and i cried for two days with pain from standing up from bed..... What really helped was whilst i was standing i kept on moving but i was protcting the cut with a large sanitary towel.... Good luck ladies ....

patricia March 24, 2013 | 11:32 AM

Hi moms its great to knw tht u all recovered well I wished I read thngs to expect before ma ceserean. Bt um stil having pains wth gas a. Ma daugter is four months nw its rily bothering m a e pains

Kayla January 18, 2013 | 7:24 PM

I definitely second the walking asap! I was up walking within a few hours of my c-section and never had any real problems with gas. I do have to firmly disagree that it's always necessary to take the pain meds. I took them for the first two days and didn't even fill my RX when I left the hospital. I'm sure it varies greatly from mom to mom and based on how the surgery went, but I was just not in pain after the first 24 hours or so.

Shelley January 12, 2013 | 3:55 AM

I am having my section Tuesday ~ thank you for the tips, especially the stairs one!

Geneva Goad October 11, 2012 | 8:39 PM

I have been reading about cesarean recovery tips for my daughter. I am glad for the advice. Another family member says 6 months for full recovery and won't even let her unload the dishwasher. Glad for the good advice. I have shared this site with her.

Jessica February 14, 2011 | 2:31 PM

I really wish I had read this prior to my last c-section. Two facts you really can not emphasize enough: 1) This is MAJOR abdominal surgery and 2) You really need to get up and walk as soon as they say it's ok. I had a lot of family around and I delayed walking by a good 6 hours. I finally got up because I was in so much pain. Apparently, the gases dispersed to my chest and back and it hurt to breathe.

Avery June 02, 2009 | 7:31 AM

Great common sense tips! Thank you!

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