C-Section Recovery: Everything You Need to Know

Is C-Section recovery painful?

Honestly, yes, but to varying degrees, and it lessens fairly steadily every day. “The first 48 hours is painful, mostly in your core and lower abdomen, around the incision site, and it’s difficult to get in and out of bed and sit down,” says Dr Yvonne Bohn, an doctor in private practice. “Once you’re moving though, it’s not bad, so get up and start walking as soon as you can.” Walking will also help you to pass gas, and alleviate that pain, which can sometimes be worse than the soreness from the incision.


In addition, all women, whether they delivered by caesarean or vaginally, will have afterbirth pains from the uterine contractions, which tend to happen more when they’re breastfeeding. “These can be more pronounced for some women who had a casarean delivery because of the healing-related inflammation in the uterine scar,” says Dr Nancy Chescheir, a professor of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at University of North Carolina Medical School..

Where do doctors make the incision?

Doctors cut about two centimetres above the pubic bone, horizontally, for both cosmetic purposes (it’s easily hidden under a bikini bottom, for example), as well as easier healing for the patient, says Dr Lana Selitsky, an doctor in private practice. In general, the scar will be about 12 cm long — just big enough for the baby’s head to fit through, she adds.

How long does it take to recover from a C-Section?

The first week or two is the toughest part, and you will likely need both anti-inflammatory medicatoin, as well as prescription painkillers. (If you’re breastfeeding, your doctor will prescribe something that’s safe to take.) “After that, you can just take over-the-counter pain relievers, and by 6 weeks, you’ll be pretty well recovered,” says Dr Bohn. Keep in mind though, that not only are you bouncing back from childbirth and surgery, you’re also caring for a newborn 24/7, which can make the healing process a little more complicated.

Will you need help after having a Caesarean birth?

If you can get it, yes — but that’s basically true for all new mothers, not just ones who have delivered by C-Section! “Recovery will be gradual, and you’ll likely need to focus on your newborn, as well as the emotional needs of any older children,” explains Dr Chescheir. “If others can take on some of the household work, or can help with the baby, take them up on it, and give yourself the space to recover.”

Are there any products that can help C-Section recovery?

Dr. Bohn recommends an abdominal band, which your doctor can order you from the hospital (don’t bother with the pricey “belly bands” because the hospital versions work just as well.) “It will help with the discomfort of getting up and down, in and out of bed,” she says. She also recommends taking a stool softener since the pain killers can be constipating, and make going to the bathroom more painful. To protect the incision, Dr Chescheir suggests using maxi pads at the site, sticking it to the inside of your underwear so the absorbent side is cushioning the scar.

What activities should you avoid after having a C-Section, and for how long?

No heavy lifting, and that includes picking up an older children weighing over 9 kilos, for about 2 to 4 weeks, says Dr Chescheir. As much as you’re eager to get your pre-baby body back, no exercise, specifically core work, until you get approval from your doctor, generally at 6 weeks. However, Dr Chescheir says taking the stairs is fine a couple of times a day, and walking is okay around week 2 to 4, as long as you start slow, and anticipate more fatigue than usual.

You’ll also need to avoid intercourse until you’re completely healed (about 4 to 6 weeks); when you do have sex, be sure to use contraception. “The recommendation is to delay the next pregnancy after a C-section for 18 to 24 months from the birth of one child to the conception to decrease the risk of uterine rupture,” says Chescheir. Yes, we know, when you’re immersed in life with a newborn, the next baby is probably the last thing on your mind! So do everything you can to avoid an, um, surprise.

Remember, you’re recovering from major surgery and the emotional onslaught of becoming a new mum (or adding another baby to the mix). So whenever your baby naps, take that time to lie down, rest and give your body a break. The time really does fly by and, before you know it, you’ll be feeling more like yourself again.

Image: Getty