C-section recovery is not something to be taken lightly, a c-section is major abdominal surgery and after it you immediately have a new baby to care for. To ensure the best recovery it's important to take special care of yourself, and this begins straight away in the hospital.
After a c-section you will usually remain in hospital on average three to five days before going home. There are things you can begin doing during that time to get your c-section recovery off to the best possible start.
Straight after the surgery you will probably feel a bit out of it and possibly nauseous. Even so making the effort to get up and go to the bathroom as soon as you can after surgery is a good idea. The first time you get up you will need someone's help. It's also very important to move slowly supported by someone else. Because your wound is so new you do not want to risk reopening it.
Anything that creates tension in the abdominal area will probably be painful at first, that means laughing, sneezing, crying as well as moving. This will gradually improve day-by-day and it's important to be attentive to just how much your body is able to do. You can use your hands or a pillow to support your incision when you cough, sneeze, or laugh.
Wearing a belly binder will be an enormous help for all of these simple acts. Imagining if sneezing or laughing will hurt, gives you some idea what picking up your baby and getting out of bed the first time will be like! Wearing a belly binder will remove the worry of your incision tearing and reopening, as well as reducing pain and allowing you to move with ease and confidence.
If you are going to breast feed (and why would not you?), It is good to start straight away in the recovery room. At first the best way to nurse is in the side-lying position or using the football hold. This way there's no pressure on your incision. A nurse should be able to help you to do this. After a c-section wearing a c-section support belt will help with improving breastfeeding position options because breastfeeding can be a bit more challenging because of the pain from the healing incision and the physical demands of holding baby.
If you do have questions or run into any difficulties, ask to see the lactation consultant straight away. If the hospital does not have a lactation consultant, ask for the nurse who's the lactation expert. It's part of their job to help you, they want to help you so do not shy about asking.
While you remain in hospital your physician will visit to see how you are each day, and that the incision is healing properly. It is very common to feel numbness or soreness around the incision. As the cut heals the scar will be slightly raised, puffy, and darker than your other skin tone. This will change over time.
During the few days in the hospital take gentle walks to get your blood and lymph circulating again. Sitting and rocking in a rocking chair will also help give gentle exercise. Simple forms of exercise like this will help the healing process and help with the inevitable gas after the surgery.
After a c-section, pain is normal and you will be given painkillers. This can leave you groggy and be a hindrance in those important first days of bonding with your baby. Some women are afraid that the painkillers will get into their breast milk, but in the first few days the baby is drinking colostrum because the milk does not come in straight away.
Belly binding after a c-section is a very effective form of pain management and it's use in c-section recovery will reduce or even do away with the need for painkillers.
For several days after your c-section delivery there will be heavy bleeding. This happens because your uterus is shrinking back to its normal size. This heavy flow of bright red blood will go on for up to six weeks post-surgery. It's not advisable to use tampons during this time, instead, use extra-absorbent menstrual pads or special postpartum pads. Gradually the bleeding will change to a pale pink or dark red color, and eventually to a yellowish or light color.
During these few days in hospital it is a good idea to sleep as much as possible and a good time to get into the habit of sleeping, or at least resting when baby sleeps. At home you will have a new and longer phase in your c-section recovery.