A Cesarean section delivery, or C-section is a major abdominal surgery, so you can expect that it will take longer to heal than a vaginal delivery. Exact healing times vary from woman to woman, though there are things that you can do to help it along. The more rest you get, the faster you can heal.
Your Hospital Stay
Your health insurance plan will often determine the amount of time that you can stay in the hospital after delivery, but you can usually stay about three days. This is longer than those who have a vaginal delivery. During this time, you can receive pain medication and doctors and nurses will closely monitor your recovery to make sure that you are fit to go home. You’ll get some help walking, which can shorten your recovery time. If you’re breastfeeding, talk to a lactation consultant about positions to breastfeed your baby. The traditional cradle hold can place the baby along your incision, which can be painful.
Recovery at Home
Once home, you will have the freedom to move, but you still need to take a lot of rest. Too much activity can accidentally reopen your wound, disrupting the healing process. You should have a careful balance between movement — which does aid healing — and rest. As you feel better, you can increase your activity level, but you shouldn’t be doing anything strenuous. It will likely take about six to eight weeks to heal fully, according to Kid’s Health, assuming that you don’t have any complications.
Your incision may become infected, which will lengthen the healing time, sometimes by several weeks. Signs of infection include pus, high fever, severe pain, swelling at the site of the incision, painful urination or blood in the urine, foul-smelling vaginal discharge or heavy vaginal bleeding, and swelling in the legs. Contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
Helping Yourself Heal
The more you can do to take care of yourself, the faster you’ll be able to heal. Get the help you need around the house — with housework, cooking and taking care of the baby and other children. Ask for help if you need to or hire someone to come and help. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby for the first two weeks. Use your hands to support your scar when you do sudden movements like coughing or sneezing. You should not have sex or start an exercise routine until you get the OK from your doctor.
Physical healing isn’t the only thing that you should be concerned about. A C-section could leave emotional scars as well. While it’s normal for women to get the “baby blues” after delivering, Baby Center suggests that you may have more complicated feelings after having a C-section. For example, you may feel depressed about the type of birth that you had because it wasn’t what you wanted or you may feel useless around the house because you need help to get things done. This could lead to postpartum depression. If you think that you might have a problem, talk to your doctor about it.