What To Expect After A Cesarean Delivery – Pregnancy Series: Part 3

In part 2 of this series, we discussed Best Post Birth Recovery Tips following vaginal delivery. Part 3 has all the information you need to know following a cesarean.

The initial days..

Day 0 is the first 24 hours after your birth, where you probably feel sore, tired and overwhelmed by the introduction of you newest member of the family.  On this day, several medical staff will also be attending to you, offering assistance and asking all sorts of questions.

Uterine pains are common for the first few days – regardless of your delivery type, which may feel like birthing contractions. This is because the uterus is continuing to slowly move back to it’s position pre-pregnancy, as well as some muscle contractions still occurring as your hormones settle in your body.

Bleeding is natural after all deliveries, and can last for up to 6weeks. No object can be inserted into the vagina post birth, and so bleeding can only be managed with the use of pads.

You will have particular attachments on your body, which are important for your post-surgical precautions after a cesarean delivery. These may include a uterine catheter, intravenous drip, pulse oximiter, nasal prongs for oxygen or blood pressure cuff. Do not stress if you notice different pieces of equipment being attached and detached during your first few days!

Lying in bed will hopefully be comfortable, however you are likely to have some discomfort along your incision line, which will be covered with a dressing. It is important your dressing stays clean and dry – alert a midwife if this is not the case. Moving can be uncomfortable for women after a cesarean birth – ensure you request the assistance of your midwife to help you to roll in bed initially.

At this stage, it is not safe for you to move out of bed, take the time to enjoy the rest!

 

Days 1-2-3

For the first 2 days, you will be most likely in bed still, with your catheter removed within the first 2 days. Ankle movements and gentle leg movements in bed are important to avoid achey joints and keep your blood flow going.

On the third day post birth, a physiotherapist will come to see you and discuss your journey post birth.
On Day 3, you will be able to move around freely – some gentle walking through your room is great to get more blood flow through to your legs and move those muscles!
You may still have discomfort along your incision line, particularly when moving. Due to the incision for birth going through layers of your abdominal muscle, it is important you follow instructions from your physiotherapist and midwife as to how to move in and out of bed.

 

The first six weeks at home:

While this is a very exciting time for you and your family, ensure you look after yourself well for this first six weeks!

Cesarean-delivery ladies are recommended to not lift any object that is heavier than your baby for the initial 6weeks. It can take 6weeks or more for the abdominal musculature long your incision line to repair.
Remember that wet loads of washing, a full pot of water or food can often be heavier than your bub!
Heavy vacuuming or mopping can increased abdominal pressure and require a lot of strength through the trunk – allow someone else to do these for you.

Consult with your insurance company first before driving after a cesarean birth, as many companies do not provide cover for 6 weeks after abdominal surgery. Do not drive if you feel pain or discomfort when checking your blind spot, changing feet on the pedals or breaking.

Exercising in this initial 6 weeks is recommended to remain very gentle and light. Recent media releases have shown some women jogging or performing high intensity exercise just days or weeks after delivery, which is not recommended by Women’s Health Professionals.

Walking 15-30minutes per day, gentle abdominal exercises and stretching are your best options for the first 6 weeks. (Check out our next blog for great exercise ideas and options to do at home, and with your baby!)
Begin with a gentle 10minute walk along flat ground – try to avoid walking up hills while pushing the baby pram in the first 6weeks.

If you feel great within your body and wish to begin heavier or more intense exercise, book an appointment with a Physiotherapist, to have a full screen of the body and for professional recommendations of your exercise options.

For more information about your birthing experience, or for further treatment following birth, consult your Obstretrician or Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

 

By Rhiannon Mouritz

Physiotherapist @ Happy Physio