Recovery from a Cesarean birth is generally more uncomfortable and takes longer than recovery from a vaginal birth. Along with having a baby, you've had major surgery. That means you will need to balance moving around, which helps speed recovery, with resting. You will tire easily in the first few weeks.
Right after a Cesarean birth, you will find it hard to move. When you do, you may feel muscle spasms or painful abdominal contractions. Relaxing those muscles is important for your comfort. To focus on relaxing these muscles:
Gas pains are common after abdominal surgery. They peak on the second or third day after surgery.
Moving around and putting gentle pressure on your abdomen can help relieve cramps and move gas out of your body. However, limit your activity right after surgery. Being too active can affect the healing of your uterus, increasing your bleeding.
Try these things to reduce the gas pains:
Raise your hospital bed and use pillows to get into a semi-reclining position. A pillow placed under your thighs will prevent you from slipping too far down in bed.
After surgery it's also common to have stiffness, soreness, a dry throat, incision pain and uterine contractions.
Even if you are breastfeeding, take pain medicine so that you can walk, move, feed and care for your baby in comfort. You will recover much faster if you control the pain.
Place a pillow over your incision when you hold or feed your baby.
Tighten your abdominal muscles when standing or changing positions. That way you use your muscles as a "supportive splint." This will encourage healing as well as lessen pain.
If you have Duramorph®, your nurse will need to remove the Foley catheter before you can walk.
Within eight hours after surgery, your nurse will help you get out of bed and walk around the room. The next day, you will be up to go to the bathroom and walk in the hallways. The first few times are hard, but it gets easier. Walking is one of the most important things you can do to speed your recovery.
You may want to lean forward or stoop to help protect your incision. Try not to. If you stand up straight, the weight of your abdominal organs will be off your incision. This will be less painful. Also, gently supporting your incision with your hands or a pillow will ease the pain.
Along with being a new mother, you are recovering from major surgery.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts