Recovering from a Cesarean

Cesarean Delivery

Care after a Cesarean Delivery (also known as a C-section)

  • Avoid strenuous activities like biking, hiking, jogging or other exercises until your 8 week appointment.
  • Do not lift anything heavier than 15 pounds. Usually, a newborn in an infant carrier is more than 15 pounds. This restriction is for a full 6 weeks.
  • Keep your incision clean and dry.
  • Wear pads for vaginal bleeding. Nothing is to be put inside the vagina until after 6 weeks or until your doctor says that it is ok.
  • You may shower as usual and pat the incision dry when you are done. Avoid lotions and powders in this area until after your 2 week incision check.
  • When your baby is 7 days old, you can remove the Steri-strips covering the incision. It is reasonable for them to stay on until 14 days which would be up to your 2 week incision check appointment with us.
  • Take 600 mg Ibuprofen/Advil every 6 hours for the first week on schedule-this will minimize your need for the narcotic medicine which can cause constipation and drowsiness. You may decrease the frequency as needed.
  • Ease or prevent constipation by drinking fluids, taking fiber supplements, and Colace stool softener 2-3 times a day if needed.
  • You may use the abdominal binder as given in the hospital for support of the belly and incision. Most women wear it for an average of 1 to 2 weeks but it can be worn up to six weeks after a C-section or as recommended by your doctor.

Postpartum recovery

  • The first six weeks
    • This is the postpartum period.
    • Your body heals and improves each and every day.
    • The beginning is usually very uncomfortable as you recover from delivery and establish breast feeding, if possible.
    • The end is usually more affected by lack of sleep than physical discomfort.
  • Full recovery after delivery
    • Complete recovery and healing after a delivery (vaginal or cesarean) can take up to six months.
    • Pelvic floor
      • Your pelvic floor—the muscles that support your pelvic organs—stretches out a lot in the third trimester with the weight of pregnancy, and even more for vaginal deliveries.
      • It will continue to regain strength with each passing week until 6 months postpartum.
      • Urinary incontinence—leaking urine when laughing or coughing—affects one third of women after delivery and usually resolves by 6 months.
      • It is common to feel vaginal pressure with heavy lifting in this timeframe.
    • Vaginal changes
      • Vaginal laxity
        • It is common to feel the passage of air from the vagina.
        • This also improves with time, but Kegel’s can help recover more quickly.
      • Vaginal dryness
        • All women have a lot more vaginal dryness after delivery.
        • For those that are breastfeeding, it usually persists until end of breastfeeding.
        • Everyone should use lubrication (if using condoms for birth control, should not be oil based) the first time you have sex after delivery.
        • After you understand how comfortable or uncomfortable sex is, you can decide if you need lubrication.
        • Many women need lubrication for comfortable sex until they complete breastfeeding.
    • Exercise
      • After your first 8 weeks, exercise is unrestricted.
      • Your body loses a lot of strength and function by the time you resume exercise, so take it slowly.
      • Your pelvic bone may take longer than 6 weeks to return to its original, solid structure.
      • It’s recommended to begin with shorter, lighter routines and increase them gradually each session if your body seems to be responding well.
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