Postnatal care after a caesarean
First 24 to 48 hours
The first 24 to 48 hours will involve having an intravenous drip in your arm (for fluids and often antibiotics) and a urinary catheter in place to keep your bladder empty. The epidural tube may be left in place to administer further pain relief for the first day or two. All these 'tubes' can make moving, and feeding your baby, a little restrictive but with help it is possible.
You may feel discomfort and even pain as your uterus contracts. This is the same for mothers who have given birth vaginally. This usually wears off within 24-48 hours.
Breastfeeding your baby can be achieved by lying on your side, sitting up with the baby on a pillow or placing the baby in the 'football' position (baby's body lying under your armpit) to help prevent any pressure on your tender belly. Ask for help from the staff and your family to lift, change and handle the baby in the first few days
You will be encouraged to become mobile (get out of bed and move around) as soon as possible (within 24 hours) after the operation. Moving early promotes healing, reduces wind pain and prevents the rare complication of blood clots forming in the legs. Make sure you have adequate pain relieving medication at least 1/2 an hour to an hour before you start to move, to help make the moving easier. You may been a burning sensation as well as sharp pains. Take it slowly. If you are feeling wobbly from the medication ask your partner or staff to help you until you find your 'legs again'.
While it can seem like an impossible task to get out of bed so soon after a major operation, with help from your caregivers it can be achieved. Most women are quite surprised at how they can move, and will express how much better they feel after getting up to sit on a chair or have a shower. Getting out of bed once or twice a day for the first 48 hours is enough. Having plenty of rest in between is essential to help you recover your energy. Gentle postnatal exercises can be started about 5 days after the birth to assist in your body's recovery.
For the first few days the incision will be covered by a dressing. You may have a small tube inserted into one side of the incision (called a wound drain). This drains any excess blood and fluids from the incision. The drain will be removed once the amount of fluid coming away is minimal (usually 1 to 2 days). As the scar heals you may feel numbness in and around it plus it may start to itch. This is normal however any fever, smell or redness around the wound is not so if this occurs advise your caregiver immediately.