Congratulations on your bundle of joy! Your journey to giving birth may not have been an easy one, but postpartum care might comes with its own set of challenges.
But there is no need to worry, as there are helpful resources like this guide to help you through your c-section wound care.
You may have heard it from your healthcare provider or from family and friends that c-section allows for more care and recovery.
Maternity leave days were expanded by the government last February 20, 2019, from 78 days for cesarean section delivery, to 105 days—regardless if delivery was normal or via c-section.
This allows for better care for the child and for your safe recovery before you can return to work in the fittest shape possible.
C-section wound types
- Vertical incision, also known as the “classical” cut – done right below the belly button until the pubic hair line, right in the middle of your abdomen. This used to be the common practice; however, this is now performed for specific reasons considering your baby’s position inside your womb, or if you already have a pre-existing scar in that area. This type of incision may require more time to recover and have been noted to be more painful than horizontal incisions.
- Horizontal incision, also known as the “bikini cut”- Widely used in c-section deliveries, as it allows for the scar to be concealed and covered as it heals. This is found at the lowest area of the uterus and results in less bleeding because it has a thinner cut compared to the vertical incision.
What to Expect after C-section Delivery
It’s a common misconception that c-section delivery is the “quick and easy way” to deliver a baby. Another one is that it’s completely painless and it’s best for mothers who’d like to avoid the scary and intimidating process of having to push your baby out within contractions.
You won’t be experiencing birth pains during labor, but you must prepare for what’s to come after. There is a reason why c-section deliveries used to entail more maternity leave days, and this is because your recovery time is longer.
- Abdominal pain within 1-2 weeks after the anesthesia wears off – recovery time may be different for all mothers, but 1-2 weeks is a ballpark figure. The pain is not only caused by the incision, but your uterus continues to contract back to its shape prior to pregnancy, which is the cause for:
- Continuous bleeding – as your uterus contracts back to your pre-pregnancy state, you will expel bloody discharge known as lochia. This isn’t a cause for concern and is completely normal. If pain persists, consult your OB-GYN as he/she may be able to prescribe some breastfeeding-friendly medication to help manage the pain.
- Breastfeeding can help shorten postpartum bleeding. It could last up to 3 months, so latch your baby as early as you can. There are positions you could try without leaning into the direction of where your wound is.
How to take care of your wound
New moms usually go home while their wounds are still very much fresh and are dressed in bandages. Here are some tips on how to clean your wound:
- Replace your bandage daily. This will allow for your wound to breathe and dry up quicker, compared to being soaked in a medicated bandage for days. Unless your bandage gets dirty or wet, change it immediately even if the 24 hours hasn’t lapsed yet. This also helps mitigate any type of infection that your incision can acquire.
- Mild soap and water are enough to clean your wound. Do not scrub your wound, as it could stay tender for at least 2-3 more days. Allow your wound to breathe under running water while you shower.
- If your wound was stapled, glued, or stitched, you may remove your bandage while you shower.
- Give yourself at least 3 weeks postpartum before swimming or taking part in activities that would mean soaking your body in.
- If your wound was closed using strips, you may shower with them and allow them to fall off by themselves. Try not to take them off yourself unless you were given clearance by your doctor to do so.
Tips on how you can recover faster
- Increase your activity as you go. Don’t force yourself to get out of bed if you’re feeling groggy or are experiencing severe pain; however, make sure to take walks every now and then, at least once a day. This will help your body adjust and get used to having more physical activities as you get stronger.
- Allow yourself 1-2 months before you lift anything heavier other than your baby
- Light and easy house chores are fine (i.e., folding laundry, wiping furniture that don’t require squatting or kneeling for instance). Steadily increase physical movements as you go. Listen to your body.
- Get proper clearance from your doctor for when you can finally start having sex after pregnancy and when you can exercise. Do not perform crunches, sit-ups, or any abdominal movements that may cause your incision to heal slower.
When to see your doctor
If you experience heavy bleeding for more than 4 days, or light bleeding but persists after a month, contact your healthcare professional right away. If you notice other symptoms like a running fever, swelling around your wound, pain and redness around your incision, or if a foul odor comes from it, consult your doctor immediately.
If you’re worried about the scarring, there are several ways on how to help treat it like using products and creams with silicone and keeping it away from the sun.
The good news is, as long as you stick to what the doctor has ordered, you should recover in about 2 weeks’ time. It is important to openly communicate with your partner or to any family member who is assisting you during your recovery, as this is the time for when you need help the most.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.