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Recovering from a C-Section: What to Expect

Of the nearly 3.8 million babies who were born in the United States in 2017, about 32% of those births were cesarean deliveries. Also called C-sections, cesarean deliveries are surgical procedures in which your baby is delivered through incisions in your stomach and uterus, rather than through the birth canal.

Choosing how you want to deliver your baby is one of the biggest decisions you make during pregnancy. Many women opt for vaginal births, but C-sections have their own benefits, and in some cases, the procedure can be necessary to preserve mom and baby’s health during labor.

Your prenatal care team at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta is here to help you prepare for labor, delivery, and the postpartum period. Whether you’ve chosen to have a C-section or you need one for medical reasons, take a moment to learn more about recovery after you welcome your new baby into the world.

C-section recovery immediately after birth

Giving birth triggers changes throughout your body. Along with normal postpartum symptoms like bleeding and cramping, you’re also recovering from major surgery. Most women remain awake during a C-section, and the incision is closed following birth with stitches, staples, or surgical glue.

Our team monitors your vital signs after delivery, and you might feel groggy, sick, or itchy as the anesthetic wears off. You’re given medication to manage pain, and you can often hold your baby shortly after they’re born. 

If you’re breastfeeding, your incision may make holding your baby uncomfortable during feeding. Our nurses can help you find comfortable positions to hold your baby as your incision heals.

Women who deliver via C-section generally stay in the hospital for up to five days after giving birth. During your time in the hospital, our team encourages you to get up and walk around within about 24 hours. Moving helps speed healing time, but it’s important not to overdo it. 

C-section recovery at home 

When you’re discharged from the hospital, we give you instructions on caring for yourself and your C-section incision. It can be challenging to balance caring for a newborn and recovering from a C-section, but take it slowly and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Avoid exercising and lifting heavy objects for about 4-6 weeks after going home. Ask for help with household chores so you can focus on your and your baby’s well-being. A C-section is major abdominal surgery, and it takes time to get back to feeling your best.

As your C-section incision turns into a scar, it may be painful, but pain subsides after a few weeks. Avoid soaking your incision and stick to washing it gently in the shower and patting it dry. Follow our guidelines for covering your scar, and wear breathable clothing to help it heal more quickly.

Cramping as your uterus shrinks is a common symptom during the postpartum period. But if you experience intense abdominal pain, or notice signs of infection like redness, swelling, or pus around the incision, visit the doctor immediately.

Recovering from a C-section often takes 4-6 weeks for most women, but the time it takes you depends on your health before delivery and whether you experienced any complications. Continue attending your postpartum check-ups, and ask us any questions you have about your recovery.

Ready to learn more about the pros and cons of C-section delivery? Call our office in Marietta or Woodstock, Georgia, today to schedule a prenatal consultation with our OB/GYNs and certified nurse midwives. You can also request an appointment here on our website.

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