Recovering from a c-section is a long process and when you have an experience that’s completely unexpected or unplanned it can be really hard on your mental health too. It’s really important to think of yourself during c-section recovery so that you can recover physically and emotional from the birth.
What to expect in hospital after a c-section
Usually you can expect to spend a bit more time in hospital after a c-section but some mothers go home within 24-48 hours. I personally stayed in for four nights each time. The first time was because Evie needed extra antibiotics for 72 hours so it gave us a bit of time to have some extra help in hospital and the second time was because I had a complicated surgery and needed to wait for my wound drain to be removed. If you have a wound drain you won’t be able to leave until the fluid is clear and a doctor will come and assess this every morning for you. This isn’t commonplace though as it’s only for more difficult surgeries.
It’s hard to know what to expect during the hospital stay after a c-section but you will be offered around the clock painkillers, DVT injections and support getting you back on your feet when you can. As soon as you can get walking again, do so. Getting mobile really makes a big difference to recovery. I had help walking to the bathroom to use the shower around 12 hours after my surgery and then gradually moved from bed to chair a few times whilst I still had a catheter in.
The catheter is usually removed after 24 hours but this is sometimes longer depending on how hydrated you are. You then need to wee in a pot to show you’re still hydrated and your bladder is working properly without the support. Mine was measured a few times by the midwives on the wards before being given the all clear.
Self Care for C-Section Recovery at Home
There are plenty of things you can do to really help your recovery from a c-section birth. I’ve had two c-sections now and I wish I had known what I know now for my first recovery. It can be really hard to recover from a c-section with the pressures we tend to put on ourselves and it’s easy to forget that it’s not just birth but also major abdmonial surgery. You have to rest. Your body desperately needs it and this is the perfect reason for doing the absolute bear minimum. Your only goal is loving your newborn and recovering.
What should you buy to help c-section recovery?
- A corded shower head or tap adapted shower head. We don’t have a built in shower in our flat so we bought one that suctioned onto the taps. Getting in and out the bath can be a little bit daunting as you have to learn to use those core muscles again but having a shower you can move around your body makes this so much easier. It’s also excellent for helping to keep that wound lovely and clean.
- Pillows. Sleeping on your front or side can be tough after a c-section so you may find it more comfortable to sleep sightly reclined. I made good use of my pregnancy pillow for a good few weeks after my c-section to keep the pressure of my tummy. I started being able to sleep on my side around day 10 and within 3 weeks I was back to sleeping on my front so it does get easier.
- Some good cotton pads, reusable or large maternity pads. Not only for the after birth bleeding but also helps to keep your wound nice and dry. You also want to give it plenty of air after bathing or showering whilst you’re healing.
- BIG knickers. I’m talking big, comfort, cotton high waisted beauties. You want them completely away from the c-section scar so they don’t irritate it. I had a few issues with the dressing and had a reaction to this and anything rubbing against it was very sore for a couple of days.
- Comfy PJs or lounge clothes. If there is any better time to truly look after yourself it’s after giving birth whether that’s vaginally or a c-section. Treat yourself to some comfortable, soft, pjs that make feeding nice and easy and don’t irritate any staples, stiches or wounds.
Other than that whatever you can do to look after yourself and make life easy do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t feel like you have to bounce back and if you want to stay home and snuggle your new baby then do. Anything you can do to relieve the pressure.