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How to Heal Faster from a C Section.
A Cesarean section, or C-section, is the surgical birth of a child.
The C-section is a major surgery, and healing from one takes longer than healing from a vaginal birth, and requires different techniques.
If you have had a C-section without complications, you can expect to spend about three days in the hospital, and to be through with bleeding, discharge, and most kinds of wound care after four to six weeks.
With proper care from your healthcare team, support from family and friends, and self-care at home, you are likely to heal in a timely manner.
Healing in the Hospital
Take a walk. You will likely be in the hospital for two or three days.
Within the first 24 hours, you will likely be encouraged to stand and walk.
Moving helps prevent typical C-section side effects like constipation and gas build-up in the abdomen, as well as dangerous complications such as blood clots.
Your nurse or nurse aid will monitor your movements.
It is usually very uncomfortable to begin walking, but the pain will steadily decrease.
Ask for help with feeding.
Talk to your health care provider about preventive care, including vaccinations, to protect your and your baby’s health.
If your vaccinations are not current, your time in the hospital is a convenient time to update them.
Keep your hands clean during your hospital stay, and don’t hesitate to ask doctors and nurses to sanitize their hands before they touch you or your baby.
Hospital infections such as MRSA can be guarded against by simple handwashing.
Make a follow up appointment.
After you leave the hospital, you will need a follow-up appointment with your doctor within four to six weeks or sooner, depending on the doctor.
Some patients come into the office a few days after discharge to have staples removed or for their incision to be checked.
Healing at Home
Rest. Sleep seven to eight hours a night if possible.
Sleeping encourages tissue growth, which will help your injuries heal.
Sleep also lowers your stress level, which in turn can lower your inflammation and otherwise improve your health.
Getting a full night’s sleep with a new baby can be challenging! Have your partner or other adult in your household get up at night.
If you are nursing, they can bring the baby to you.
Remember that some nighttime fussing will pass on its own:
listen for a few seconds before you decide to get up.
Take naps when you can.
When the baby is down for a nap, take a nap too.
When a visitor comes to meet the baby, ask them to watch the baby for you while you nap.
It isn’t rude: you’re recovering from surgery.
Drink water and other fluids to replenish the fluids lost during delivery, and to prevent constipation.
Your fluid intake will be monitored in the hospital, but once you are home it is on you to drink adequate fluid.
When breast-feeding, keep a glass of water beside you.
There is no set amount of water an individual should drink every day.
Drink enough so that you are not frequently parched or thirsty.
If your urine is dark yellow, you are dehydrated, and should drink more water.
In some cases, your doctor might advise you to decrease or not increase fluid intake.
Eating nutritious meals and snacks is especially important when you recover from surgery.
Your digestive system will be recovering from the surgery, so you might want to make a few adjustments to your regular diet.
If your stomach is upset, eat bland, low-fat foods, such as rice, broiled chicken, yogurt, and toast.
If you are constipated, you may want to increase your fiber intake.
Talk to your doctor before dramatically increasing fiber consumption, or taking a fiber supplement.
Continue taking your prenatal vitamin to help promote healing.
Cooking can involve risky lifting and bending.
If you have a partner, a family member, or a friend who can care for you, ask them to prepare your meals or organize a meal train.
Walk a little more every day.
Just like when you were in the hospital, you will need to keep moving. Try to increase your time walking by a few minutes each day.
This does not mean you should be exercising! Do not bike, jog, or do any strenuous exercise for at least six weeks after your C-section, at least not without consulting your doctor.
Avoid taking stairs as much as possible.
If your bedroom is upstairs, relocate to a downstairs room for the first few weeks of your recovery, or if you can’t relocate your bedroom just limit the number of times you go up and down the stairs.
Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby, and do not squat and lift.
Avoid sit-ups or any movement that puts pressure on your wounded abdomen.
Take medication when in pain.
Your doctor may recommend acetaminophen, like Tylenol.
Most pain medications are safe to take while breastfeeding, but you should avoid aspirin or aspirin-containing pills for the first 10 to 14 days following surgery, as aspirin can reduce blood clotting.
Pain management is very important for a nursing parent, as pain interferes with the release of hormones needed to help milk flow.
Support your abdomen.
Supporting your wound will decrease pain and lower the risk of your wound re-opening.
Hold a pillow over the incision when you cough or take deep breaths.
Abdominal compression garments, or “belly binders,” are not proven to be useful.
Consult your physician before you compress your incision.
Clean your incision.
Wash it daily with warm, soapy water, and pat dry.
If your health care provider has put strips of tape on your incision, let them fall off on their own, or remove them after a week.
You may cover your wound with a gauze bandage for comfort or if it is weeping, but make sure to change the bandage daily.
Do not use lotion or powder on your incision. Rubbing, scrubbing, soaking or sunbathing your incision can slow healing, and risk re-opening the wound.
Avoid cleaning products that can slow healing time, such as like hydrogen peroxide.
Shower as you normally do, and pat the incision dry when you are done.
Do not take baths, swim, or otherwise immerse your incision in water.
Wear loose clothing. Dress in loose, soft clothing that does not rub against your incision.
Abstain from sex.
After a c-section or a vaginal delivery, you body may need four to six weeks of healing before you can engage in most forms of sexual activity.
If you have had a c-section, it might take even longer for your incision to be firmly healed.
Wait until your doctor says it’s safe before engaging in sex.
Wear pads to absorb vaginal bleeding.
Even without vaginal delivery, you will experience bright red vaginal bleeding, called lochia, in the first month after childbirth.
Do not douche or use a tampon, as this can cause infection, until your doctor says it is safe to do so.
If your vaginal bleeding is heavy or smells foul, or if you develop a fever above 100.4°F (38°C), call a doctor.