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Reproductive and Child Health

After a Caesarean Section

A Caesarean Section (C-section) is a surgical procedure which involves the delivery of a baby through an incision (cut) in the abdomen.

How you might feel afterwards:

After a Caesarean Section
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  • After a C-section it is normal to feel quite sore in your lower abdomen. The pain will lessen as time passes.
  • The usual healing process for a C-section is 4-6 weeks.
  • You may find it difficult to sit up, stand up and do other activities which involve using your abdominal muscles.
  • You may have some bruising, minor swelling and redness.
  • You may have itchiness or a feeling of numbness along the incision line.
  • You may note a small amount of clear discharge from the incision (it should not be blood or pus).
  • If staples have been used to close your incision, you will need to return to the doctor to have these removed a few days after you leave the hospital.
  • If stitches have been used to close your incision these will dissolve.
  • You will have vaginal discharge/ bleeding which will be bright red for the first 3-4 days, a brownish to pinkish colour day 4-10, and yellowish-white colour day 10-6 weeks.
  • You may have gas pains after a C-section.
  • You may experience feelings of disappointment or frustration (especially after an unplanned C-section). It is important to discuss these feelings with your partner, family or health care provider.

General Care After a C-section:

  • It is important to keep the incision clean and dry, and to leave it open to the air as much as possible.
  • Discuss your need for pain medication with your doctor.
  • For the first 6 weeks after delivery, you should avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby.
  • You should avoid activities that involve pushing or pulling (e.g. vacuuming).
  • It is fine to have a shower, but ensure that you dry the incision well afterwards, and if possible leave it open to the air for a little while.

  Call your doctor if:

  • Your abdominal pain has not been relieved at all despite taking pain medication as directed by your doctor (e.g. excessive pain).
  • You have a fever (temperature > 37.8° C or 100°F), chills or a rapid pulse.
  • There is redness, heat or extreme swelling (lumps) along the incision line.
  • There is yellow, green or foul-smelling discharge oozing from the incision.
  • There is blood oozing from the incision.
  • There is any separation (opening up) along the incision line.
  • You have not had a bowel movement for several days after your C-section or you are not passing gas.
  • You are experiencing nausea and vomiting.
  • You have pains in your legs, particularly if your leg is swollen and red.
  • You have pain in your chest, or shortness of breath.
  • You feel dizzy or faint.
  • You have bright red bleeding from your vagina that completely soaks one or more pads in 2 hours, and does not stop or slow with rest.
  • You are passing blood clots larger than the size of a loonie.
  • You have foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
  • You are experiencing pain/ burning when urinating, or having difficulty passing urine

What May Help:

  • Hold a pillow over your abdomen when moving, coughing or sneezing.
  • Use comfort measures or relaxation techniques during your recovery period (e.g. deep breathing, music, dim lights).
  • Roll onto your side first and push up with your arms when getting up from a lying position, rather than using your abdominal muscles.
  • If you are breastfeeding your baby, you may find it more comfortable to use the football position or side lying position (so that the baby is not lying across your abdomen).
  • Move slowly if you need to climb stairs (avoid them if possible).
  • Walking and rocking in a rocking chair may relieve gas pains. Lying on your left side may also help relieve gas. (Do not use a straw to drink fluids as this may increase gas).
  • If you are having difficulty passing a bowel movement, ensure that you drink plenty of fluids, try to eat fruits, vegetables and foods high in fibre. Discuss the need for a stool softener with your doctor.

For more information call Durham Health Connection Line
905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729