Recovering from a caesarean
Recovering from a caesarean (C-section)

Your perineum muscles may not be feeling painful (or not, depending on whether you laboured before an emergency C-section), but dealing with the recovery from abdominal surgery along with all the other postpartum pains is not an easy road. Your symptoms should start to ease throughout the first week, but you might still feel: 

 

  • Pain at the incision site - While the initial pain should be mostly or completely gone by the end of the week, taking pain relief as advised will help. The scar will still be sore for a few weeks still, so wear loose shirts that won’t irritate the area. 
  • Itchiness - Ask your doctor for a safe anti-itch ointment to relieve the discomfort. 
  • Exhausted -  Surgery is surgery, whether or not you have a baby to take care of. The need to get up and conquer the mounting responsibilities of new motherhood is universal, but those recovering from a C-section will need more help than others. Remember, the more you rest now, the easier your recovery will be.

 

Weeks 3-4

 

Your symptoms should be better day by day, but you might still feel:

  • Pain at the incision site - While the initial pain should be mostly or completely gone by now, the scar will still be sore for a few weeks. Continue to wear loose shirts that won't irritate the area 
  • Itchiness - Ask your doctor for a safe anti-itch ointment to relieve the discomfort 
  • Exhaustion - While all new mums are exhausted from the around-the-clock routine of a newborn, you will need extra help if only because you will still be experiencing difficulties getting about and lifting. Take it as easy as possible 
  • Gassy and bloated -  Surgery can cause your intestines to move more slowly than normal, building gas and making you feel quite uncomfortable. Talk to your doctor about what's safe to take and make sure to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Uncomfortable when coughing, sneezing and laughing -  Use a pillow to support your stomach 
  • Difficulty breastfeeding – beyond the usual roadblocks -  If your abdomen is still aching, the side-lying position or  football hold might be the most comfortable. Use a pillow to protect your wound from quick and forceful little kicks, as well as a pillow between your legs and behind your back. Other than that, follow the advice in our breastfeeding section 
  • Constipation - which might be lingering thanks to pain meds. Talk to your doctor about safe medications to take.


Other things to know about your recovery

 

  • Your sutures or staples were most likely removed by now, but, if not, you can expect a fast and generally painless process
  • You should be getting as much sleep as possible (meaning as much help as possible), while still getting up and walking around every once in awhile to prevent blood clots 
  • Avoid picking up anything heavier than your baby for the first eight weeks 
  • With your doctor's green light (that is, after your six-week post-natal check), you might be able to resume moderate exercise – including sex 
  • Believe it or not, your dark, puffy scar will eventually shrink and fade and will often be hidden by your underwear or bikini bottom

Because there's always a risk of infection with a surgery wound, call your doctor if:

  • The incision site becomes warm, red or extremely swollen 
  • Your wound starts to ooze 
  • You start running a fever, even if you feel fine otherwise

Find More

Caesarean Birth
Contraception 
Breastfeeding positions after C-section


This article was written for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading parenting resource.

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