8 unexpected things that happen after a caesarean section

What’s it really like recovering from a c-section? Here are some of the surprising things that happen post-surgery.

1. You’ll hang out in recovery for a while

Once your baby has been delivered, you’ll be taken to a recovery room, where the nurses will monitor you and ensure you’re doing ok after surgery. Two things might happen here: you’ll either need to be in recovery on your own, and your partner and baby will be taken separately to the hospital room. Or they may let you keep your new bub in recovery with you. Either way, don’t panic – you’re not there for long. Usually after about 30 minutes to an hour, you’ll be taken to your room where you can continue bonding with your new baby.

2. There will be blood … lots of it

Just like a vaginal birth, a c-section is normally followed by some pretty intense bleeding (although it may be less than if you give birth vaginally). It’s kind of like a very heavy period for the first few days, then there’ll be some lighter bleeding for the next couple of weeks. This is simply your uterine wall healing. The best thing you can do is stock up on some heavy-duty pads, and invest in some big, comfy undies for hospital and home. If you ever notice an unusual amount of bleeding, be sure to call a doctor immediately.

3. Your scar might be a bit scary

Like all other scars, your c-section scar is going to look pretty raw for the first few months. It’ll be lumpy and bumpy, and you might notice there’s a bit of a shelf where your tummy meets the scar. This is perfectly normal, but understandably many women feel disfigured by their new battle wounds. Try not to worry too much about it – the scar really does fade over time. If you want it to fade faster, you could try a silicone gel for scar reduction. Look for one with vitamins C and E,  which can help boost the healing process.

4. The pain is real

When the pain medication wears off, you’re going to experience some intense pain around your incision. It’s not easy coping with severe pain while also trying to feed your baby and get to know them in those first few days.

Don’t try to be a hero. Your nurse will give you all the medication you need, which will make the days easier, and will also hopefully help you get some sleep at night. It’s easier to stay on top of the pain than try to regain control if it becomes unbearable. Go easy on yourself and do what is best for your body.

5. You’ll pray for number 2

Passing your first post-surgery bowel movement is a long and frustrating waiting game. Basically your body gets clogged up (partly because of painkillers) and it becomes really hard to push anything out when your abdomen is so tender.

Your nurse will give you some laxatives, plus drinking lots of water can help. Getting up for a walk (even though it hurts!) will get things moving too. Even so, it can sometimes take a few days to see any action, and when it does happen, you might be worried about popping your stitches. Don’t worry! You’ll be ok, we promise.

6. Sudden movements really hurt

This includes coughing, sneezing, laughing, and pretty much any kind of abdominal-related movement. Again, you might be freaking out that your stitches are going to burst when you have a coughing fit, but really the only problem is the pain you’ll feel. One way to ease this is to put a pillow over your tummy or use some kind of compression garment to support your abdominals. This pain will gradually fade within a few weeks.  

7. You’ll turn on the gas

Don’t be surprised by the odd gas pain. Your bowels get really sluggish after surgery, which can result in some initial gas pains. Some women even get awful pain in their shoulders post-delivery. Sounds strange, but it’s true – this is simply gas pain pressing on the diaphragm, which can cause pain to extend up into the shoulders. Getting up and walking around can help combat this. And whatever you do, don’t be shy about letting rip. There’s only one way out.

8. You’ll be in hospital for a while

While you’re propped up recovering in your hospital bed, you might notice the mothers who had vaginal births leaving after just a couple of days. Don’t fret, c-section recoveries take a little longer, usually requiring at least three to four days in hospital. It’s important you have those extra days to recover and ensure that your incision is healing well. Before you know it, you and your baby will be heading out into the world together.

How did you recover from your caesarean? Did anything surprise you?

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