Going home after a C-section
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You are going home after a C-section. You should expect to need help caring for yourself and your newborn. Talk to your partner, parents, in-laws, or friends.
What to Expect
You may have bleeding from the vagina for up to 6 weeks. It will slowly become less red, then pink, then have more of a yellow or white color. Bleeding and discharge after delivery is called lochia.
At first, your incision will be raised slightly and pinker than the rest of your skin. It will likely appear somewhat puffy.
- Any pain should feel a lot better after 2 or 3 days, but your incision will remain tender for up to 3 weeks or more.
- Over time, the scar will become thinner and flatter and turn either white or the color of your skin.
You will need a follow-up appointment with your health care provider in 4 - 6 weeks.
If you go home with a dressing, change the dressing over your incision once a day, or sooner if it gets dirty or wet.
- Your doctor will tell you when to stop keeping your wound covered.
- Keep the wound area clean by washing it with mild soap and water. You don’t need to scrub it. Often, just letting the water run over your wound in the shower is enough.
- You may remove your wound dressings (bandages) and take showers if sutures (stitches), staples, or glue were used to close your skin.
- Do not soak in a bathtub or hot tub, or go swimming, until your doctor tells you it is okay, usually not until 3 weeks after surgery.
If strips (Steri-Strips) were used to close your incision:
- Cover them with plastic wrap before showering for the first week. Do not try to wash off the Steri-Strips or glue.
- They should fall off in about a week. If they are still there after 10 days, you can remove them, unless your doctor tells you not to.
Getting up and walking around once you are home will help you heal faster and can help prevent blood clots.
You should be able to do most of your regular activities in 4 - 8 weeks. Before then:·
- Do not lift anything heavier than your baby for the first 6 - 8 weeks.
- Short walks are okay. Light housework is okay. Slowly increase how much you do.
- Avoid heavy housecleaning, jogging, most exercises, and any activities that make you breathe hard or strain your muscles. Do not do sit-ups.
Do not drive a car for 3 weeks. It’s okay to ride in a car, but make sure you wear your seat belt. Do NOT drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicine.
Try eating smaller meals than normal and have healthy snacks in between. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drink 8 cups of water a day to keep from getting constipated.
Any hemorrhoids you develop should slowly decrease in size. Some may go away. Methods that may help the symptoms include:
- Warm tub baths
- Cold compresses over the area
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Over-the-counter hemorrhoid ointments or suppositories
Lovemaking can begin any time after 6 weeks. Also, be sure to talk with your health care provider about [contraception after pregnancy-60-NEW].
After C-sections that follow a difficult labor, some moms feel relieved. But others feel sad, disappointed, or even guilty about needing a C-section.
- Many of these feelings are normal, even for women who had a vaginal birth.
- Try talking with your partner, family, or friends about your feelings.
- Seek help from your health care provider if these feelings do not go away or become worse.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your health care provider if you have vaginal bleeding that:
- Is still heavy (like your menstrual period flow) after more than 4 days
- Involves the passing of large clots
- An increase in red bleeding for a day or so about 7 - 14 days after delivery, when the scab that forms at the site of the placenta is shed
Also call your health care provider if you have:
- Swelling in one of your legs (it will be red and warmer than the other one)
- Pain in your calf
- Redness,warmth, swelling, or drainage from your incision site, or your incision breaks open
- Any fever
- Increased pain in your belly
- Discharge from the vagina that becomes heavier or develops a foul odor
- Noticed you are very sad, depressed, withdrawn, or are having feelings of harming yourself or your baby, or are having trouble caring for yourself or your baby
- A tender, reddened, or warm area on one breast (may be a sign of infection)
Beghella V, Landon MB. Cesarean delivery. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 20.
- Last reviewed on 9/18/2012
- Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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This page was last updated: April 14, 2014