15 Things No One Tells You About A C-Section Recovery

A lot of first time expectant mom’s are terrified at the thought of needing a C-section, and understandably so, it is a major surgery.

There are many methods of having a child, but there are only two ways to actually deliver a baby. Natural birth or C-section. At the end of the day, all that matters is that there is a healthy baby and a healthy mommy. Both forms of delivery are very different. They are different in how they are performed, they are different in how a woman prepares and they are different recoveries.

We could sit here all day and argue on which type of birth has a worse recovery, but there really is no point. The thing is they have two different recoveries, each carrying their own downfalls. At the end of the day, a health baby is all that matters, no matter how they entered the world.

A lot of first time expectant mom’s are terrified at the thought of needing a C-section, and understandably so, it is a major surgery. Some people seem to forget that little part. It is an operation that has it’s own risks and after care. Since a lot of C-sections are emergencies, they don’t usually have time ahead to learn and plan for the recovery.

Instead, mom’s receive all of this knowledge after the delivery, when they are sleep-deprived and overwhelmed with emotion. Not a lot sinks in when a person is in that kind of state. We are thinking of all you mom’s out there, and we have come up with the 15 things you need to know about a C-section recovery. The good, bad and the ugly. So, if you are a first time mom take a glance, it is always better to be prepared just in case.

15Who Knew Getting Out Of Bed Would Be So Painful

There are a lot of people out there who want to live in their naivety and not have any warning of pain. This is understandable, we do not want to bring any unnecessary fear. There are some who like to know what they are getting into and to be prepared. One of the most painful things you will feel when you are in recovery happens pretty quickly. It is that first time you try and get out of the bed. This pain can last up to 2 weeks post partum.

The hospital is the best place for you, the beds are equipped with rails and a little button to prop you up or down. All of these things make getting up a lot easier. Of course, you can not stay in the hospital for your whole recovery, so once you get home these little tasks may be very painful. The worst part is, as much as it hurts, getting up and moving around is the best thing for you to help in your recovery.

14Breastfeeding Woes

There are already people out there that are worried that if they need a C-section, it will effect their ability to breastfeed. Their worry is that the lack of immediate bonding time that can happen after a C-section can result in their milk not coming in. A C-section also raises the risks of something going wrong, and if for some reason mom and baby are not able to be together, the hospital will have to give baby something to eat, and usually it is formula.

The real problem with nursing after a C-section is that is a very difficult position to hold a newborn in for an extended period of time. It can cause strain on your abdomen where the incision is. The best thing to do is to try different holds, the football hold or nursing while laying down are two that are very C-section friendly.

13Going To The Bathroom – OUCH!

This may be the one recovery downfall that happens to both those who have a V birth and a C-section. It becomes very uncomfortable and painful to go to the bathroom. Both number 1 and number 2. Urinating can bring a burning or stinging sensation. You also may not feel like you emptied your bladder fully, due to the insertion of a catheter during labour. This should clear up in a few days, so that’s some good news.

Going number 2 is a whole new ballgame. Pregnancy hormones can wreck havoc on your body, and they tend to slow down the digestive track which can lead to some pretty serious constipation. The best thing to do to ease constipation is to get up and move around, even though it may be painful. Another remedy is to take a stool softener to help move things along.

12More Swelling

Feet and ankle swelling is not one of the more glamourous sides of pregnancy, but it happens. A part of a recovery from a C-section is more swelling. Yup, the curse is not over and you will have to wait a little longer before wearing those cute shoes again. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases to support all the growing that’s going on.

Add on to all of that the fact that you just had a major operation, with a lot of IV fluids, it is going to add to the swelling. The fluid has to go somewhere, so gravity does its job and moves it down to your feet and ankles. This is normally nothing to worry about, and it should go away with time. You may just have to hold off on any type of footwear for a while, crocs may become your best friend.

11Goodbye Sleep

We all know that when we bring a new baby into the world, that we are probably going to be sacrificing a fair amount of sleep for a while. This is extra true during the immediate recovery from the procedure. Some say the best chance of rest you will get is in the hospital, immediately following birth. Not only because you have all the extra help around, but because newborns sleep a lot immediately following birth, they have not realized yet that they are not in the womb.

A lot of mom’s miss out on this chance to get some rest because there is a lot of after care following a C-section. Due to it being a major surgery, nurses will be coming in during the night to check mom’s vitals and make sure that everything is healing the way it should.

10A Shelf?

Some women may be left with a “shelf” in their abdomen following a C-section. During a C-section, the doctor will make a horizontal cut through your skin, a fatty layer and the tough tissue that surrounds your organs. After the procedure is done, the doctor will stitch up the top layer of your skin, but the inside is left to heal on its own. This can create some scar tissue that develops above the incision and creates a puffy look, or a shelf.

This scar tissue will heal over time, and it should become less noticeable. This will not happen over night, and it may take up to a year to diminish, but it will probably never go away. Just think of it as a battle scar, and if you are concerned about it you can always follow up with your doctor. They may have some suggestions to lessen the appearance of it.

9It’s Itchy

If anyone has had an injury, a cut or scratch, they may notice that it is a little itchy as it heals. This would only be worse when we are talking about a rather large incision that has a lot of healing to do. It is really best to not scratch at the incision site, this may introduce some bacteria and lead to an infection. You can talk to your doctor to find some relief, but a warm or cool compress may help take away the overwhelming need to scratch.

No one enjoys an itch they can not scratch, so this will probably take a toll on your mind too. One of the best things to do when you have an itch you can not scratch is to take your mind off of it. Start doing something around the house, or a hobby you enjoy. Or even better, cuddle up with your babes and watch a movie.

8It May Be Numb

On the other side of the spectrum, it may also be very numb. I would prefer it to be numb than itchy though, that is my opinion. This side effect of a C-section is caused by the actually surgery itself. When the doctor makes those incisions they do to get that baby out, there is a chance they may cut some of the nerves as well. This will lead to some numbness along your incision site.

Our nerves are responsible for feeling anything on our skin really. When they are interrupted or cut, you won’t feel anything. This may seem like a good thing, but it can be very worrisome. It is not something you should normally have to worry about, you can always ask your doctor if you are very concerned. The other bad thing is that it is not uncommon for this numbness to last for several years.

7You Have Been Benched!

The average recovery time for childbirth is 6 weeks. With a C-section, this could extend until 8 weeks postpartum. The other downside is that you can not lift anything heavier than your baby, no pushing and pulling, and no deep bending until your incision heals. While a V birth has it’s own woes, you are usually not medically restricted in your movements.

You won’t realize how many of these restricted movements you actually do on a daily basis until you are told that you can not do them. This is when you will need all the support you can get, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, when someone offers you help, please take it. Us moms don’t like to ask for help, but the recovery time is not the right time to be supermom.

6No Exercise

If you were someone who enjoyed a rigorous fitness regime pre-baby, then you are probably itching to get back to the gym after giving birth. Most women can keep up their active lifestyle when they are pregnant, but if you end up with a C-section, you may need to put all that on hold until the 8-week mark. It is crucial to let the incision site heal, and heal properly. The best way to let anything heal is slowly, we do not want to rush it.

If you are still itching to get moving, you will be limited to walking and climbing stairs. These are both great ways for a C-section mama to get some exercise. You want to avoid almost anything else, because it will put strain on your incision site. Activities like yoga and pilates will make you stretch your body, and all I can say is OUCH!

5You Will Get The Shakes

This is another one that will happen immediately following the procedure and it is one that a lot of women are unprepared for. Getting the shakes is something that can happen to both those who have a V birth and a C-section. Some call it the “epidural shakes” and it seems to effect woman who have a C-section much more.

This could be caused by the extra morphine they add to the spinal before the surgery. You may find yourself laying on the bed and uncontrollably shaking. You will try and stop the shakes, but you just can’t. They will also take over your whole body, right down to your feet and toes. Even your teeth may chatter. It is nothing to worry about and it will stop over time, the worst part is you may not be able to hold your baby until it stops for obvious safety reasons.

4Terrifying Looking Incision

As if a large, scary looking stitched up incision isn’t enough, it may also do things you never thought you would experience. One woman reflected that she had gotten out of bed one morning, a few days after giving birth, and when she went to the bathroom she heard a loud popping sound. She thought for sure she had bust open some stitches, but when she looked everything was fine. It wasn’t until a few hours later, that she noticed a purple looking spot under her skin that had just kind of popped up.

She later discovered that what had happened was she had burst a blood vessel. So, it was basically a bruise, and a nasty looking one. She was warned that these can be dangerous and can lead to internal bleeding and infection, so if you experience this it is best to get checked by your doctor.

3Don’t Cough Or Sneeze

This is one side effect from childbirth that occurs in both V birth and C-section. It bloody hurts to cough or sneeze. I feel for those women who come down with a cold after they give birth, because I could not imagine the agony. You don’t realize all the muscles and body parts you use when you cough or sneeze until it hurts.

Mom’s who have had previous C-sections have a very helpful tip for all those new mom’s out there. Keep a pillow nearby. When you feel a cough or sneeze coming on (hopefully you have warning) take that pillow and hold it against the abdomen, right over the incision. The good news is this pain only usually lasts for about a week past surgery, when everything is more tender. Remember, this too shall pass.

2There Will Be Blood

It can be quite common for a woman to think when she has a C-section, she will get to skip all that vaginal bleeding. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there will be a lot of blood exiting your body even after having a C-section. You won’t have as much as those who have a vaginal birth, and this is because your vaginal space will be cleaned out at the time of surgery.

This is because your uterine wall still needs to heal itself and the placenta has to be detached. Your blood vessels are also responding to the sudden drop in hormone levels. Also, the thick lining that built up inside needs to come out, and this happens gradually. It occurs the next few weeks following delivery. All bleeding should only be light, and will usually only last about 6 weeks.

1Gas Pains – In Your Shoulder

I think we all expect to have pain in the southern parts of our body after either type of childbirth, but with a C-section you may be in for a surprise. You may experience some pretty intense pains in your shoulders, from gas. After surgery, your bowels become kind of sluggish. This can result in some pretty serious gas issues, as if gas during pregnancy wasn’t bad enough. This pain can extend and reach right up to your shoulders.

Your nurses will probably offer you some form of gas-pain relief, and please ladies take it! The other best remedy for these gas pains is to walk around. Another theory behind this shoulder pain is a little more interesting. They say it is a type of “referred pain” this is when you have pain in one area of your body, but you feel it in another, it all depends on how your nerves react. This pain should only last a couple of days.


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