What all moms should know about C-section recovery

Suggested post (Harvard Medical School)

The process of childbirth can be tough on your body, but C-sections can be especially tough – particularly in comparison to a natural birth. Having a C-section affects your body in a number of specific ways, and it’s important to be aware of variations in the recovery process.

How is C-section recovery different from vaginal birth recovery?

C-sections require making a large incision on your abdomen. As a result, you’ll be in the hospital for about twice as long as you would with a vaginal birth – three to five days compared to one or two. While you’re there, you’ll likely be taking narcotic painkillers. It will also likely be harder to get around and it might take longer to enjoy full meals again.

With all deliveries, you should expect vaginal bleeding, sore breasts and abdomen, gas buildup, and possible contractions.

Once out of the hospital, your healthcare provider will probably encourage you to stay active with light walks around your home to help alleviate some of your symptoms. If you had a C-section, you will need to take special care of your incision wound to make sure it doesn’t open up or become infected. You’ll also want to get lots of rest and give your body time to heal. Similarly to vaginal birth, you’re going to feel sore all over for a little while, but you’ll have an adorable baby to distract you.

What are the possible complications?

Birth complications are a little more frequent in C-section deliveries than vaginal deliveries. Hemorrhages, infections, and organ injuries are three times more likely in a C-section compared to a vaginal birth. There are some studies that suggest C-sections may also be associated with newborns developing asthma and long-term immunity issues.

There are also the potential complications that come with any surgery, like reactions to anesthesia. You may also face a higher risk of serious complications in subsequent pregnancies, such as issues with your placenta, or uterine rupture.

What information should I have going into delivery?

Before your due date arrives, it is helpful to know your birth plan, under what circumstances you’d be comfortable undergoing C-section surgery, the hospital where you plan to deliver, and the rate at which that hospital performs C-sections. If you’re not sure whether your circumstances could lead to a C-section, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. They can answer your questions and might be able to help you create an alternate birth plan if you’re at risk for a C-section.

If you’d like to see the rate at which different hospitals in your area perform C-sections, you can use this simple tool, which was created using data provided by The LeapFrog Group. By choosing a hospital with low rates of performing C-sections, you can reduce your risk of having a C-section delivery.

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