Recovering from a caesarean birth usually takes longer as compared to recuperating from a vaginal delivery.1 The average stay in hospital after your C-section is around 2–4 days depending on how long your body takes to recover.
Recovering in hospital
In the hospital:
- A nurse or adult should help you get out of bed the first few times
- You may be prescribed painkillers to reduce any discomfort
- You will be encouraged to get out of bed and move around as soon as possible
- You can start breastfeeding your baby right away
Taking care of your wound
Your gynaecologist will advise you to:
- Keep the wound clean and dry
- Dress comfortably in loose clothes and cotton underwear
- Take the prescribed painkiller if the wound is sore
- Look out for any signs of infections
What should you expect during recovery?
The following things may happen while you are recovering:
- Mild cramping, especially if you are breastfeeding
- Bleeding or discharge for about 4–6 weeks
- To avoid the risk of infections after C-section, avoid having sex or inserting anything in your vagina e.g. tampons, instead use sanitary pads instead of
- Pain in the incision
Returning to your routine
Doing gentle activities, such as going for a daily walk, while you're recovering reduces the risk of blood clots. However, do not overexert yourself.
While you should be able to hold and carry your baby, you may not be able to the following activities straight away:
- Driving- You can drive a car when your wound has healed and you can brake suddenly without feeling sharp pain (usually around 4-6 weeks, but it’s best to consult with your doctor)
- Carrying anything heavier than your baby- for example, a full basket of wet clothes, a bucket full of water etc.
- Sexual intercourse
You can start to do these things again only when you feel comfortable to do so. This may not be for 6 weeks or so. Ask your doctor if you're unsure when it's safe to start returning to your normal activities.
Breastfeeding your baby after C-section
Positions you might find comfortable for breastfeeding after caesarean birth are:
- Sitting with a pillow on your lap to support your baby and protect your wound
- Lying down on your side
- Holding baby underarm with baby’s feet towards your back
When to contact your doctor
Call your doctor if you experience:
- Severe pain
- Leaking urine/pain during peeing
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Your wound becomes more red, painful and swollen/discharge of pus or foul-smelling fluid from your wound
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Swelling or pain in your lower leg
The above symptoms could be a sign of an infection or blood clot and should be treated as soon as possible
- National Health Service. Recovery-Caesarean section [Internet] [Updated on Feb 18, 2020]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/caesarean-section/recovery/. Accessed on Feb 25, 2020.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. [Internet] Available at: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Cesarean-Birth?IsMobileSet=false#expect. Accessed on Feb 25, 2020.
- Recovery after caesarean: first six weeks [Internet] [updated Oct 24, 2019. Available at https://raisingchildren.net.au/pregnancy/labour-birth/recovery-after-bir.... Accessed on Feb 25, 2020.