A Caesarian section (C-section) is a surgical process where your baby is delivered through a cut to your abdomen and uterus – it is considered major surgery.1 But unlike other medical operations where we rest and let the patient be the focus, a C-section mum can’t really do this as she has a fragile little life to care for as well. When you have a C-section, your baby becomes the focus, and your recovery often takes the back seat.
Let’s look at the C-section recovery timeline and allow ourselves a little of that same attention and patience to recover as others would get after surgery.
Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels
The C-section Recovery Timeline
It is thought that recovery from a C-section could take between four to six weeks.2 However, just like every woman is different, recovery from a Caesarian section can differ too – studies3 indicate that recovery may take longer than six weeks for some mums. Here is a general timeline4 of how C-section recovery takes place.
Immediately after birth
Most women having a C-section will receive an epidural or spinal block that helps numb the area being operated on, but allows you to stay awake during the procedure. It takes several hours for the epidural to wear off, and you cannot walk or use the bathroom alone during this period. If you received general anaesthesia for the birth, then it might take some time for you to wake up.
During this period, you’ll be monitored closely for things including unusual bleeding, high temperature or blood pressure. If you have no complications, you should be allowed to cuddle and breastfeed your baby soon after birth.
The first 24 hours
After a few hours of monitoring you for complications, you’ll be allowed to rest, breastfeed your baby, and in general, adjust to being a mother. There will be bleeding from the vagina (called lochia), as all those pregnancy fluids leave your body. You will need to wear a thick pad. Your uterus will start to contract and shrink, just like in a vaginal birth. You will probably be given pain relief of some sort as the spinal block/anaesthesia wear off and you regain feeling – including pain. Inside your body, the healing process has already started.
The first week
Generally, C-section mums are allowed to go home two to four days after giving birth. During this first week and while you are still at hospital, you’ll be asked to walk even a few steps. Even though might be painful, medical experts say it helps faster recovery by encouraging bowel movements and blood circulation.
You should be able to shower a day or two after your C-section. Before you leave hospital, you’ll be advised on how to care for your cut until you’re seen by your doctor again in two weeks’ time.
Weeks two to six
During your two-week checkup, your doctor will inspect your cut site to make sure it’s healing properly. You’ll probably feel much better by now, even though you’ve had major surgery. But for the following few weeks, you might still experience some incision pain and cramping as your body continues to heal. It generally takes around six weeks for the uterus to return to its regular size. After week six (when there usually is another checkup), most mums can safely resume gentle exercise and sex. However, you should always get this cleared by your doctor.
Even though the womb shrinks by around week six, it’s normal for many mums to take much longer – even upto a year – to recover completely.
What Can You Do During C-Section Recovery to Maximize Healing?
- Eat well: Plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will keep your digestive system healthy, which can help prevent constipation. Eating protein-rich foods like eggs, lean red meat, chicken, and fish could help promote healing and help you recover faster.
- Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated is important for your health and overall recovery.
- Hold off sex and avoid tampons: Until of course your doctor gives you the all-clear.
- Try to get rest: Yes, it’s hard to rest when your little one needs you all the time. But now is the time to take up those offers of help from friends and relatives. If you have a helper or nanny, don’t feel guilty about handing over the baby for short periods so that you can lie down or take a nap.
- Wear an abdominal binder: Binding the tummy area after birth is common in Singapore and other Asian countries. It is said to help the uterus shrink and has other benefits including supporting the lower back, and helping to heal abdominal muscle separation. However, if you have a C-section, traditional binding cannot be done until the cut heals. That’s why UpSpring developed the C-Panty, the first and only patented postpartum underwear with a medical grade silicone panel to support C-section mums with healing.
C-Panty C-section Recovery Underwear
The C-Panty C-section underwear is a patented postpartum underwear that helps you with C-section recovery. Made just for C-section mums, the C-Panty provides carefully targeted and clinically determined compression over the incision area to help increase comfort and mobility. It can also support postpartum slimming.
With its inbuilt, medical-grade silicone panel, this underwear also assists in minimizing scarring and reducing irritation. Made of comfortable spandex and nylon, these panties are comfortable to wear in Singapore’s humid weather. The best part is that you can wear it immediately after a C-section, unlike traditional binds.
Want to find out more about the C-panty and buy it? Just click here.
If you have any concerns, please contact your physician prior to wearing the C-Panty.
- C-section. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on June 30, 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-section/about/pac-20393655
- C-Section: Tips for a Fast Recovery. Healthline. Medically reviewed on January 23, 2018. Retrieved on June 30, 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/c-section-tips-for-fast-recovery#rest
- Recovery following caesarean section. National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health. 2011. Retrieved on June 30, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK115312/
- How to speed up recovery from a cesarean delivery. Medical News Today. Published on October 2, 2018. Retrieved on June 30, 2021 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323229