If you’ve just had a baby by caesarean birth, commonly known as a c section, you might be wondering about how best to recover, and how long your recovery time will take.
Always remember that a c section is a major operation and while some women might recover quickly, it’s important to take it easy and give your body and mind time to rest and recuperate.
Whether you had a planned caesarean or an emergency delivery of your baby, here are some tips and advice on how to recover from a c section. Make sure you always consult your midwife or doctor if you have and concerns or specific medical questions.
C Section Recovery Tips:
Firstly, What Does a C Section Involve?
A c section, or caesarean section, is an operation where your baby is delivered through a cut made in your lower abdomen and womb. It’s a major operation, and you can see more of what’s involved in this clever demonstration involving layers of felt.
A planned section is where the operation is agreed and scheduled ahead of time. An emergency c section is where it takes place in an emergency situation, often when labour has already started. There are many reasons why a c section might take place, which you can read on the NHS website.
Around 1 in 4 babies are delivered via caesarean in the UK.
What Is The Average C Section Recovery Time?
There are also lots of different factors that might impact on your c section recovery time, from the type of c section you had to if you already have children to look after at home.
In short, there’s no average recovery time for a c section and everyone is different. It is major surgery that involves a local anaesthetic such as an epidural or spinal block, or general anaesthetic. You will usually stay in hospital for longer after a c section – around 2-4 days, compared with 1-2 days for vaginal deliveries, and will take a while to recover completely.
It’s recommended that you avoid some activities and lifting anything heavy, including your baby’s car seat, until your postnatal check with the doctor at six weeks. However, everyone is different, and you might feel absolutely fine in less time, while some women might still be feeling after-affects for longer.
Tips For C Section Recovery At Home – Take It Easy!
- Once you are at home with your baby, it’s important to take your recovery as slowly as possible. While it might might be tempting to rush around, especially when the baby is asleep, you need to take lots of time to rest and sleep yourself. Stay on the sofa or in bed for as long as you can!
- It’s important to keep your legs moving to try and avoid the risk of blood clots (your midwife will have encouraged you to take short walks in hospital). It’s OK to go for short walks with your baby at first, if you feel up to it.
- While all the attention is on the baby, make sure you prioritise your own needs, too. Stay hydrated – especially if you are breastfeeding – and try and eat well, too.
- Ask for and accept help if you can. You will probably be feeling incredibly emotional, so be kind to yourself – and talk to your partner, a friend or a midwife if you don’t start to feel more yourself.
- Most women will experience pain after a c section, and it’s likely that you will be sent home with painkillers, so make sure you take them. You will start to feel more ‘normal soon.
C Section Recover Q&A: Here Are Answers Some Of The Common Questions Women Have About How To Recover From a C-section:
What Can I Pack In My C Section Hospital Bag To Help My Recovery?
While generally you can pack the same in your hospital bag that you would for a vaginal delivery, make sure you pack high waisted pants that won’t rub on your scar. You’ll also need nightshirts (not pyjamas) for immediately after, and pack loose clothes for going home in.
Some women also take peppermint teabags, as these can help to soothe the pain of trapped wind, which is common after a c section.
You will also still experience bleeding, even after a c section, so stock up on maternity pads.
How Long Will My C Section Scar Take To Heal?
Your c section scar – the wound through which your baby is delivered – will also take a while to heal, usually around six weeks, and will eventually fade with time. Ask your midwife for tips on looking after your scar, including which creams you can apply.
If you’re worried your scar may be infected or there’s an issue with the stiches, speak to your midwife, health visitor or a pharmacist.
How Long Do I Need To Wait Before Exercise After a C Section?
You'll be encouraged to get out of bed and move around as soon as possible when you’re in hospital, and it’s OK to go for short walks with your baby once you’re at home, if you feel up to it. Remember to take your recovery slowly and don’t try and get back into your normal fitness routine until you’ve spoken to your doctor.
However, you can start pelvic floor exercises – where you gently squeeze your pelvic floor muscles – a couple of days after giving birth.
How Long Do I Need To Wait Before Driving After a C-section?
You will be able to be in control of the vehicle and able to perform an emergency stop safely, and for some women this can take up to six weeks. Check with the DVLA and your insurance company as you may require sign-off from a doctor before getting back behind the wheel.
Sex After a C-section – What Do Doctors Advise?
Your physical recovery from a c-section can take up to and beyond six weeks. When you can start to have sex again depends on how you feel, both physically and emotionally. Some women may feel ready sooner, and some may not feel ready at all for much longer. It’s entirely up to you and speak to your doctor if you have any concerns,
After you’ve read our post on c section recovery tips, make sure you also read our post on sleep tips for new parents