A Caesarean section (AKA Caesar or C-section) is a surgery where the baby is born through an incision in the abdomen and can be either done in emergencies when complications occur during vaginal birth or planned in discussion with your healthcare professional. As with any surgery, C-section recovery takes time and self-care. If your C-section is uncomplicated you will likely stay in hospital for around 3 to 5 days, and then will have limited activities for around 6 weeks where you won’t be able to lift anything heavy or drive. Your healthcare professional will be able to give you specific care instructions and guide you on what you can and can’t do during your recovery period.
Things to consider as you recover from your c-section:
- Ask family and friends to help for at least the first couple of weeks of your recovery. Tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and playing with your older children (if you have any) might be harder for you in your recovery period. Try not to strain yourself so that you can heal as quickly as possible.
- Follow your healthcare professionals advice and avoid carrying anything heavier than your baby. If you have older children who want your attention, try activities that don’t involve you picking them up such as reading a book on the couch or bed together.
- If you know you’re having a C-section, consider batch cooking and freezing some meals before you go into hospital. Soups or healthy meals full of vegetables are a good option. Here are some great healthy recipe ideas. Stock up your fridge and food cupboards before you return from hospital. Ask family or friends to help or place an online grocery order for when you get home. You’ll need someone there to help unpack it though.
- You’ll need to gently clean your C-section incision daily to help prevent infection. Your midwife or healthcare professional will advise you on the specifics such as how to clean your incision, and whether to cover the scar or leave it to air. If your wound is unusually sore, speak to your healthcare professional, and don’t delay. They will check the wound for infection and might recommend pain relief for you.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing that won’t irritate your wound, and underwear that goes higher than your incision (rather than sits on it). Full brief underwear and soft, cotton high waisted pants are generally better because they don’t sit right on the wound.
- Put yours and baby’s everyday essentials (food, clothes, toiletries and cutlery) within easy reach so you won’t need to stretch up or bend low, to reduce strain on your incision.
- Eat plenty of high fibre fruit, vegetables and grains, and drink lots of water to help avoid constipation and stay hydrated.
- You won’t be able to drive for up to six weeks so if you need to get around, you’ll need to take public transport, a taxi or ask friends and family for lifts. Check with your car insurance provider about when you are insured to drive again.
- Consider a breastfeeding pillow to make feeding your baby more comfortable and to protect your incision. The midwives will be able to show you comfortable positions after your baby is born so that you can be more confident when you return home. If you need some more ideas of breastfeeding positions, check out this article.
- Try not to do anything strenuous until your C-section six-week postnatal check-up. Try to stay active by going for short and gentle walks during the day, even just around the house.