What all women should know about C-section recovery

Suggested post (Harvard Medical School)

The process of childbirth can be tough on the body, but C-sections can be especially tough – particularly in comparison to a natural birth. Having a C-section affects the 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 the abdomen. As a result of delivering this way, a woman will be in the hospital for about twice as long as they would with a vaginal birth – three to five days compared to one or two. While there, they’ll likely be given narcotic painkillers. It will also likely be harder to get around and it might take longer to enjoy full meals again.

Common side effects of all deliveries, both natural and C-section, are vaginal bleeding, sore breasts and abdomen, gas buildup, and possible contractions.

Once out of the hospital, healthcare providers typically encourage those who have undergone a C-section to stay active with light walks around their home to help alleviate some symptoms. Those who receive a C-section need to take special care of their incision wound to make sure it doesn’t open up or become infected. It also takes additional rest to give the body time to heal.

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. Women undergoing a C-section may also face a higher risk of serious complications in subsequent pregnancies, such as issues with their placenta, or uterine rupture.

What information should I have before getting pregnant?

It is helpful to begin considering a future 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 eventually 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, or help you determine proactive things you can do in pre-pregnancy, 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 future risk of having a C-section delivery.

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