Coming home with a newborn baby and a row of stitches across your tummy is a huge adjustment. It probably hurts and you need to look after yourself so you heal properly. Here's some good advice on how to manage at home after a Caesarean.
A Caesarean is a major operation, regardless of whether it was planned or not. And becoming a parent is a major life event. As a mother, childbirth will also mean hormonal changes for you, as well as a painful wound to look after.
An emergency Caesarean can be a shock
An emergency Caesarean can stir up loads of emotions. It is of course a relief that everything went well, but some women feel like they've been deprived of the childbirth experience or that initial contact with their baby.
A partner who was present can also end up in a jumble of emotions. It's scary, experiencing the mood change in the delivery room when it becomes an emergency. It can take quite a long time for the fear to subside.
Regardless of how you, or both of you, are feeling, it's always a good idea to talk to the midwife or the doctor who was at your delivery, to go through what happened and why.
If yours was a planned Caesarean, you will have been well prepared and probably don't have as many questions afterwards.
Find out more about what happens during a Caesarean.
No heavy lifting, but definitely go out for a walk
Looking after yourself means things like avoiding lifting anything heavier than your child - who doesn't weigh much at all. Ask your partner, friends or relatives for help.
Try to exercise gently and in moderation. It relieves pain, improves healing, gets your circulation going and reduces swelling around your cervix. Walking is the perfect gentle start.
Look after your wound
The Caesarean wound may itch while it's healing and the stitches dissolve. It's important that you keep your wound clean and dry. Clean your wound with soap and water while you're in the shower.
Avoid exposing the wound to direct sunlight for the first six months, that way your scar will look nicer, once it has healed. After that you can gradually get your skin used to the sunshine again. If your scar turns red, you should apply a high SPF to it or cover it with tape, e.g. surgical tape.
Exercising after your Caesarean
New mothers should wait for at least six weeks after the birth before their first work out. Avoid jumping and running for at least the first four months. But you should be aware of how your body feels when you do start working out. If your scar hurts, or if you feel excessive heaviness in your pelvic area, that could be a sign that you are doing too much and should slow down a bit.
It's important to allow your stomach muscles to contract back together again, as they were separated during your pregnancy. So you should only exercise your deep abdominal muscles: Work on "sucking in" your belly button and abdomen around your spine, and focus on your posture. But avoid sit ups.
Even if you haven't experienced a vaginal birth, your pelvic floor has still been under a lot of pressure for several months. Which is why it's a good idea to get started with your pelvic exercises as soon as you have the energy - this is how you do them.
There is always a small risk of infection after an operation
You should contact your healthcare centre if:
- you have a temperature
- your stomach hurts a lot
- you have a foul-smelling discharge (as a heavy vaginal flow)
- you notice your wound has turned red, painful and ulcerous