What to Expect in a C-Section

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Home care

Home Care
For six weeks, you should watch for all of the above (fever, vaginal bleeding, and pain), but precautions also should include not placing anything inside the vagina (this means no tampons, douching, or sexual intercourse). Some doctors recommend driving restrictions (meaning don't drive) from three to four weeks or longer.

Don't forget to make a follow-up appointment with the OB who delivered your baby. Make the appointment within four to six weeks after the delivery (that means you'll have to call for an appointment as soon as you get home – you know how these doctors are with their schedules). If you have any questions regarding your recovery, however, always call your doctor ASAP.

As far as wound care goes, you can take a shower, but don't rub the incision while showering. Let the water run over it and take a bar of antibacterial soap, make a dollop of suds in your hands and apply it gently to the incision, let the suds sit for a minute, and then rinse them off. Use a clean towel and pat the incision dry, don't rub it. If you want to use Bacitracin or Neosporin ointment and rub it on, it might reduce scarring. (But, first make sure you're not allergic to either of those products.) Taking a bath is acceptable once your bleeding has decreased significantly. Be careful not to slip while getting out of the tub. For the first couple of weeks, a shower is preferable.

For painkillers, the majority of women can take Motrin or Ibuprofen. Make sure you take any medicine with food or milk, assuming that there are no contraindications to that. Take medicine regularly for the first couple of days after surgery. Most doctors will also provide a narcotic-based medicine as well. Dr. John recommends trying the Ibuprofen first and then the narcotics – the reason being, Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, which will address the cause of the problem, whereas the narcotic simply masks the pain. Be aware that the Ibuprofen might have gastro-intestinal side effects. The narcotics also have side effects, including drowsiness, which could increase your chances for clotting and constipation if you're sleeping and not walking (unless, of course, you sleepwalk). Instead, try taking the narcotic at night if you're going to take it.

For the six weeks after surgery, use walking as your main source of exercise. Avoid setups or crunches or anything that could weaken or tear the incision.

The Unexpected C-Section
Obviously, if you have an unexpected c-section, then it is probably an emergency situation. Many of the same procedures will be followed, but probably faster – OK, possibly at lightning or warp speed on the part of the hospital staff. The father or significant other may or may not be allowed in the operating room. It will depend on the severity of the situation.

The Absolute Minimum
There is no getting around the fact that a c-section is an operation that requires cutting, and as such, it can be dangerous. Fortunately, with the advent of antibiotics and improvements in surgical techniques, it is a relatively normal procedure that is performed routinely and successfully every day around the world. Still, be aware of what it entails and ask questions before you get to the point where you need a c-section.

  • If you can avoid a c-section, do so. Vaginal deliveries are always preferable in terms of safety, unless there is a medical contraindication.
  • Most c-sections are safe, and you shouldn't worry too much about the outcome for you or your baby.
  • Follow your doctor's advice carefully both pre-op and post-op. Your wellness depends on your attention to detail.
  • Make sure you have plenty of help after the baby is born. You will be sore for quite a while and will need some help getting around.


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excerpted from:

Reproduced from Absolute Beginner's Guide to Pregnancy, by John Adams and Marta Justak, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing. Please visit Amazon to order your own copy.


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