Top Tips: for recovery after a C-section

Top Tips: for recovery after a C-section

As a pelvic health physio, I work on the postnatal wards at Auckland hospital, so I am well versed in the process recovery after caesarean surgery. Also, both of my babies were born via abdominal birth. Here are my top tips for recovering after a C-section: 

1: Manage expectations

Knowing what you are in for and what to expect, can make the process a whole lot easier. After the C-section, you’ll spend some time in the ‘recovery room’ with your baby and support person, before being wheeled to the ward. Once you are in the ward, you’ll likely have a pain pump: medicine that is delivered via tube in your hand every time you push the button. Once you can feel and move your legs again, it’s usually encouraged that you get out of bed (within 8-12 hours of the operation). Once you’ve gotten out of bed successfully, your catheter will be removed. You’ll then be put on oral medication regularly to help manage the wound pain, usually the day after your surgery. Once you have passed urine, passed wind, and can walk around by yourself, it’s usually safe to go home.You’re likely to be sore over the wound with activities like getting in and out of bed, laughing and coughing, for anywhere between 2-6 weeks, but this pain should improve day by day. 


2: Abdominal support

Abdominal tubigrip (like the tubular bandage you put over a sprained ankle) is super helpful to put on the day after surgery, and can be worn throughout every day for the first 4-6 weeks. It can help to support the wound when you move, making every day activities a whole lot more comfortable, and also help to support any abdominal diastasis (separation of abdominal muscles from pregnancy). Ask your LMC or pelvic health physio where to get tubigrip. 


3: Wound protection

Firm pressure on the wound with your hands, a rolled-up towel or a small cushion can make activities like coughing, sneezing, laughing and standing up from a chair more comfortable. 


4: Manage bowels

Straining on the toilet when you have an abdominal wound is no fun! Preventing constipation is much easier than trying to treat it. So, lots of fruit and veges and a fibre supplement leading up to your due date, and after birth is important. Keep your fluids up – you’ll need to be drinking more than usual if you’re breastfeeding – to keep your stool soft. You’ll likely be offered laxatives in hospital – take them for as long as you need to keep your bowels regular and easy to pass. 


5: Gentle exercise

It’s recommended to get up out of bed about 8-12 hours after your operation. This is important to prevent post-op complications like blood clots and lung infections. Take it slow, but move often—just around your room for the first day, then you might venture out of your room after that. Once you get home, if you’re feeling up to it, head out for a 5-minute walk most days. Increase this time by 5 minutes per week, and before you know it, you might be heading out for a 30-minute brisk walk at 6 weeks post-natal. Everyone’s recovery is different, so avoid comparing yourself to others, and listen to your body.

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