Pregnancy

10 Things No One Tells You About Recovering From A C-Section

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If you are like me, and planned on having a vaginal birth only to be met with a c-section, you may be totally unprepared for what to expect in the weeks following it. I honestly wish I had some idea of what was in store, because I felt a little out-to-sea. If you are recovering from a c-section – or have one planned – here are some things you should know about your recovery. Don’t let the icky details freak you out too much – if you are the kind of person who likes to be prepared – read on. If not, don’t worry about it. You’ll get through it regardless. I did.

1. People will be very concerned with your ability to poop.

Pooping is almost impossible – and they won’t let you leave the hospital until you do. They will offer you a suppository, about which you will probably initially think, “No. Please no. I’ve been through enough.” Take it! If you take nothing else away from this article, please don’t ignore this piece of advice. If you allow yourself to get to a place where you are having crazy gas pains – you will regret it.

2. Ditto on your ability to fart.

You’ll have no shame after the suppository – don’t worry. They will offer you gas pills to chew on. Take them.

3. The first time you lift yourself out of bed will be painful.

You will literally not want to do it – but push through. You will feel so much better if you force yourself to walk – very, very slowly – as much as possible.

4. Same goes for the first few steps you take.

Don’t worry – this passes. I remember calling one of my friends from the hospital in tears, thinking I would never be able to climb the three flights into my brownstone apartment, and never be able to go home. Just go slow. It gets better.

5. You may be freaked out about looking at your incision. 

Your doctor will want you to check and make sure everything is peachy once you get home. Make your partner do it. Seriously – force them. You just birthed a baby, for god’s sake.

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88 Comments

  1. Obladi Oblada

    July 18, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    YES to the walking. It saved me.
    My incision really wasn’t painful at all but the raging infection I got in it was.

    • Maria Guido

      July 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Yup. My first c-section they didn’t get me out of bed until day two and it was much harder. My second they got me up about 10 hours after the surgery and my recovery went much smoother.

    • Obladi Oblada

      July 18, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      Walking is key. It’s the only way to get through. It’s amazing the difference it makes.

    • Jessifer

      July 18, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      At the hospital on my last day, I had to deal with such a bitch nurse! About an hour before being discharged, I was BF my son and she came over, sneered, and said “Why’s he making that noise? You’re not doing it right! You had 2 days to go to the nursing classes in the morning”. I almost freakin’ lost it. I had my c-section at 6pm so the following morning I still had my catheter in when the nursing classes took place, so obviously I didn’t go, and the next day I had several nurses AND my midwife observe me breastfeeding and telling me that I had gotten the hang of it, so I mustered up the courage to get finally my ass out of bed and shower for the first time in 48 hours. Honestly, I wanted to slap that woman!

    • Maria Guido

      July 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Terrible! What a jerk.

    • Courtney Lynn

      July 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      That is absurd! I would have cried. Honestly, I’m so sensitive at postpartum. I would have cried and then told the head nurse.

  2. Courtney Lynn

    July 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Yes to all of these. Except they didn’t tell me I had to poop, just fart and pee.

    • Maria Guido

      July 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Oops – I forgot the peeing. So much stuff going on down there.

    • Courtney Lynn

      July 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      LOL…a lot, huh? It’s crazy!

    • Aimee

      July 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      I remember being so excited to announce to the nurse who just walked in, “I JUST FARTED!” Like being five years old again.

    • Courtney Lynn

      July 18, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      LOL…my poor husband, I was proudly farting most of my stay. Finally pooping was major cause for celebration!

    • Harriet Meadow

      July 18, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      Yeah, I didn’t have to poop while in the hospital, either. And I actually don’t remember having my abdomen massaged. Maybe I blocked it out…

    • Courtney Lynn

      July 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      My nurses only did it for less than a minute. The first time, I think they stopped because they figured I had dealt with enough.

  3. Igottagetoutmore

    July 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I was thrilled to get my catheter out the next morning and I got up and out of bed as fast as I could.

    Post section 5 days my incision opened I had a blood pool underneath. God what a horrible experience that was. Back to ER and dr opened it totally with his hands; had a nurse come every day for 6 weeks to drain and pack incision as they couldn’t re-stitch it. NO BATH/SHOWER allowed.

    Washing hair in sink and using wipes. I cried so much…

    • Maria Guido

      July 18, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Oh my god – that is awful!

    • Igottagetoutmore

      July 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      I don’t want to scare people..it wasn’t a great situation after. The op was a piece of cake compared to what followed…but I’m safe, my son is safe and I will never have to do that again!!!

    • Obladi Oblada

      July 18, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Mine opened on the fourth day but it was an infection that had burrowed over from the other side. I couldn’t shower for a while either. I had to have home health care come for a while to pack the wounds so they could heal from the bottom up. On top of that, the nerves on the right side didn’t ‘die’ when they were cut so I felt everything they did.
      I understand what you went through. I’m so sorry.

    • Igottagetoutmore

      July 18, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Poor you..totally sucked..but you have to laugh where you can. I used a straw in my incision to check daily how it was healing and I was a pro at boiling the “tools” the home care nurses used. At least I had someone checking on me after my hubs went to work.

    • Obladi Oblada

      July 18, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      It did suck but it sounds like yours sucked pretty hard too. Good thing we can laugh about it now, right? Solidarity sister! 😉

  4. Jamie

    July 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I’m having twins sometime in the next eight weeks and while I’m hoping they’ll cooperate and let me deliver vaginally (Baby 1 has to be head down and bigger than Baby 2), I know the odds are good that they’ll be delivered via c-section. I’m disappointed and terrified! This article was reassuring, but the comments are freaking me out again. No shower for six weeks! That’s my happy place! That’s something I always make time for! I would also cry so much.

    • Igottagetoutmore

      July 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      I didn’t shower because I had an open wound, not that people who have c sections can’t shower…my guy was breech so section my only real option..it was gross but that’s the way it went…

      i’ll tell you..people looked at my incision while i was in hospital…only person to touch it was nurse taking staples out..she said it felt soft like a blood pool..if someone had listened to her or checked it earlier they may have taken care of it there on maternity floor.

      That’s my advice for you..make sure someone feels it and that it feels the way it is supposed to. Otherwise…I was up and walking normally by end of 2nd day..no real pain..

      for me being dirty for so long was horrific….but fingers crossed for you it will be fine. Good luck.

    • Obladi Oblada

      July 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Everything will go smoothly. You will be fine and your babies will be beautiful. It’s not easy but what is? Keep the faith mama. It will all be okay.

    • Maria Guido

      July 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      I totally showered! Don’t worry!

    • Guinevere

      July 18, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      yep! Showered the next day. As soon as the catheter was out. I was most afraid of the catheter but it was really no big.

    • Aimee

      July 18, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      Congratulations on your twins! My double bundle of joy (and screeches) arrived via c-section (Baby 2 was more than a pound bigger than Baby 1) and my biggest regret now is that I went to that five-hour birthing class, haha. Oh, and I had a shower the day after my section and it was probably the most amazing thing ever. GOOD LUCK!

    • Harriet Meadow

      July 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      I also showered the day after.

    • Lisa Walker

      July 18, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      You can shower as soon as the catheter comes out, just no bathing or swimming for 6 weeks

    • Nichole

      July 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      If you end up having a c-section ask for a binder, mine helped so much that I was still wearing it when I went back to work 11 weeks after my twins were born. Mine was a big elastic bandage and my nurse told me to put a pillow case over my incision so the binder didn’t rub it and it worked perfectly. Also, pushing on the incision when you cough or laugh really helps.

      Funny part for me was when I laying in bed trying to nap for an hour before the next feeding (we sent the babies to the nursery for that hour to get a little rest) and I couldn’t stop farting. Long, loud ridiculous farts. Needless to say I didn’t get much rest that time. 🙂

      Good luck- you will do great!

    • Karin

      July 18, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      No shower for six weeks? I came home from the hospital on day four and showered that night.

      Also, the only pain medication I needed by that point was Tylenol. They sent me home with lots of awesome drugs, and I never used any of them. I’m not awesome with pain; generally I am an absolute child when it comes to pain, but I did not find c-section recovery nearly as bad as I was told it would be.

      Also, my sister in law had a c-section and came with us to see a Bon Jovi concert ten days after the birth. She was moving slowly, but she went.

    • Igottagetoutmore

      July 18, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      My no shower for 6 weeks was because I had an open incision…not normal procedure for a section….

    • Spongeworthy

      July 18, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      You’ll do fine. I showered the day after my section, and I didn’t need anything stronger than Motrin the whole recovery. It took a while to feel 100%, but it wasn’t awful.

    • Williwaw

      July 18, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Don’t worry, even if you get a c-section, unless you have some major postoperative complication, you should be able to shower. I still remember how heavenly my first post-c-section shower was (maybe 3 days after?). Congratulations on your twins, and I hope you have as fun a delivery as possible (I personally really enjoyed the part of my labour that was supported by laughing gas).

    • Drstephaniedvm

      July 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Don’t worry too much. Even with pre and post complications I got a shower just over 48 hours post delivery of my twins.

    • shorty_RN

      July 18, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      I got to shower less than 24 hours after my c-section. I needed help, but it was the best shower of my life. And try not to get too freaked out by the comments. C-section recovery sucks, but it actually sucked less than I thought it would. Just don’t be afraid to take the pain meds, and make sure you take your stool softener!

    • jendra_berri

      July 18, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      Just remember we all lived to tell the tale and there’s something fun afterwards in swapping “war stories”. Take a look at all of our jovial tones! We’re complaining, but there’s lots of humour here.
      You’ll be just fine. And I showered either day-of or next day, can’t remember. And I showered plenty afterwards too.
      When you have a C section, people really want to help you do stuff like get up and go to the bathroom! I bet all you’ll need to do is ask for help to the shower and everyone around you will be thrilled to help shuffle you in there.
      PS I second the bit about bringing a binder for your stomach, something to wrap around your belly after. You’ll definitely want the support! It’ll feel so much more comfortable with one on.

  5. Guinevere

    July 18, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    11. it hurts to laugh.
    12. it hurts to cough.
    These two things feel like you are being gutted open again. Again and again.

    • Harriet Meadow

      July 18, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      On day three after my c-section, my husband said something REALLY funny. Like, so funny that I was laughing my head off and couldn’t stop even with the pain. That hurt sooooooo fucking bad. I just about killed him.

    • Kat

      July 19, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      My fiance did the same. I was NOT a happy mommy!

    • Jessifer

      July 18, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      I sneezed and thought I was going to die!

    • Guinevere

      July 18, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      oh yeah, sneezing is the worst! Had baby during allergy season peak and would not wish this on anyone.

    • ChelseaBFH

      July 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      When I was recovering from my c-section, my mom and sister got me laughing. The more I laughed, the more it hurt, and the more it hurt, the funnier it was. Eventually I had tears streaming down my face from a mix of laughing and pain. The best part is that we were trying to take a picture, so I have a photo montage of the whole thing.

    • shorty_RN

      July 18, 2014 at 10:55 pm

      Oh my lord, laughing hurt so much for the first week or so!

    • Justme

      July 18, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      I threw up a few hours after my c-section.

    • Obladi Oblada

      July 18, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      Me too. UUUGGGHHH.

    • jendra_berri

      July 18, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      I know! What bullshit!
      I had developed a chronic cough at 14 weeks that didn’t go away until a couple weeks postpartum. And I had a C section. Pain, pain, effing pain!

  6. Igottagetoutmore

    July 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    For me…froze my arse off in operating room and nobody was paying attention to me once kiddo came out. It didn’t hurt, I was part of a study and got a nerve block shot in my hip. It honestly didn’t hurt, during or after.

    I did shower once while in my hospital room so don’t stress about that (although it was very ginger and not a lot of scrubbing!).

    I had a brazilian the week before section so they didn’t need to shave me and it was a long time before hair came back in…it isn’t numb. Sometimes my scar itches but its not really that bad.

    I walked the halls all the time. Walk walk walk. You feel like you aren’t getting anywhere fast but it does help with the healing.

    Jamie – please don’t let my tale of woe frighten you. It really wasn’t that bad. Just a crap shot of odds and unfortunately I had complications after. So many people do not.

  7. Aimee

    July 18, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    My advice for getting out of bed (and back into it) right after your C-section is to hold a pillow against your incision to help support it. It helped SO MUCH, which is good because during my first pillow-less attempt to get off my ass I was pretty sure I was going to be spending the rest of my life in bed.

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  8. AwesomeMargie

    July 18, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I have a Naproxen allergy so my pain med was Tylenol. Tylenol does nothing.

    • shorty_RN

      July 18, 2014 at 10:54 pm

      Girl, percocet is your friend after a c-section. Gotta get the good stuff!

  9. Stacy Shain

    July 18, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I woke up with cold sweats when I finally got home, they made me sooo uncomfortable and freezing and wet:(

    • auntiesocial

      July 18, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      Those were the worst! I was convinced that whole first night at home that I was getting an infection because I felt cold and hot at the same time. Weirdly, staying on top of my pain meds helped a little– maybe it just made the weird hormonal effects easier to tolerate?

    • Katherine Handcock

      July 18, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      I think that one may be a hormonal thing, too! I had two vaginal birth and had the cold sweats after both. Wish someone had prepared me for that; I thought I was getting the flu or something!

    • JAN

      July 20, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      I had these after my vaginal births and was told is was hormonal. My mom swears it’s even worse when you go through menopause. Not looking forward to that!

    • Stacy Shain

      July 22, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Worst feeling EVER!

  10. Lackadaisical

    July 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    I have friends who had C-sections who were fine after but mine was far more like that. Actually, mine was a panicky affair under general anaesthetic and with blood transfusions so I ended up in a wheelchair for a few days, a warning that my scar would not be as tidy and small as most c-section scars, a long enough stay in hospital that waiting for bladder and bowel movements before leaving really wasn’t a problem and a self administering morphine drip for the first day (so, so, so good).

    There were advantages, though. They also attached an awesome 3 sided crib to my bed so that I could reach over to nurse rather than have to stand or even sit up, although he then went to the Special Care Baby Unit (completely and utterly unrelated to the morphine, I promise) and by the time they let me have him back in my room I was well enough that he had to have a separate cot like all the other babies. They also felt so sorry for us that they also took him for feeding and cuddles whenever he cried in the night because they felt I needed the rest (being SCBU we didn’t get a choice on formula, he had to have it in addition to my own milk before anyone gives me the judgy look … not that you lovely people are judgy, Mommyish is one of the least judgy places on the internet). Having a dramatic c-section meant that all the midwives pampered me and spoiled me rotten.

  11. Harriet Meadow

    July 18, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Get something to hold your stomach flab still when you’re up and walking around. Some people I know used bandages. I actually found some of those “trendy top” things on sale at Linens ‘n’ Things (you know, basically like tube tops, but meant to go around your waist to prevent muffin top/thong showing), and wearing those under my clothes was the best thing EVAR! Because before that, walking around with my stomach flab jiggling was super painful (and of course, tight pants wouldn’t work because they rub).

    • keelhaulrose

      July 19, 2014 at 9:29 am

      I folded up a towel and used a belly band to press it against the incision for the first few days after second c-section. I wish I had done it for the first.

    • Jezebeelzebub

      July 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      SPLINTING RULZ. If you ever have any kind of abdominal surgery, get one of those smallish throw pillows and hold that bad boy over your sutures. it totally helps.

  12. KSo

    July 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I wish someone had told me all of these! Especially no. 10. I initially declined the meds. Then my spinal block wore off. That was quite a shock!

    • LocalMom29

      July 18, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Yes! I did the same thing, thinking I was such a badass for not being in a lot of pain after the numbness wore off. Little did I know that the painkillers in the spinal last considerably longer than the paralyzing part. And then they wear off… I didn’t make that mistake the second time around!

    • Jessifer

      July 18, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      I remember that any hospital staff that would come around, no matter whether they were checking my blood pressure or dropping off my dinner tray, I’d ask if it was time for my meds yet and would be soooo relieved when they’d say “yes”!

  13. Stephanie

    July 18, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Yes to all of these. I would like to add – you may feel like you are having a seizure in the middle of the night a day after your C-section. At 2 am I woke up shaking uncontrollably and could not stop for 15-20 minutes. Apparently this can be a normal reaction to the meds/hormones. Wish someone had warned me!

    • Courtney Lynn

      July 18, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      I didn’t shake, but I did throw up. And I was sweating profusely!

  14. Aimee

    July 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    They forgot to put that the first few times you have sex will be painful and terribly uncomfortable. Even though nothing was happening in that general area during delivery. So weird…

    • jmuns79

      July 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      I don’t understand this. I also had a c section and had terribly painful sexy times for months. Even Dr. Google was inconclusive.

    • Kat

      July 19, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      I did/do too. My son’s 8.5 months old, & I still have uncomfortable sex. I googled it, we’re normal. I thought after the first few times, I’d be the sex beast I was before. Nope. Nope. & NOPE!

    • Courtney Lynn

      July 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      Hurt like hell both times!

    • jendra_berri

      July 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      Yeah! I thought I’d be just fine. Nope! nopenopenope.

  15. RobertSGrant

    July 18, 2014 at 6:55 pm

  16. shorty_RN

    July 18, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    11. Anesthesia can make you itchy. SO ITCHY. IV benadryl is your friend.
    12. You will kind of miss your catheter when they take it out. Not having to get out of bed to pee = nice.
    13. Your first shower after surgery will feel glorious.

    • jendra_berri

      July 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      I got tons of hives for days. Not too awesome. I wondered if the anesthesia was behind it, and maybe it was? Benadryl made them go away.

    • Kat

      July 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      I hated my shower. Worst part of post partum. I was so scared!

    • ChickenKira

      July 20, 2014 at 4:02 am

      #12 so much.

  17. jendra_berri

    July 18, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    No one massaged my belly or gave me anything for gas or made sure I pooped. I was given softeners. And my pain meds were a choice of advil and tylenol (WTF) or oxycontin (Highly addictive!)
    I would like to add something: You will NEED support afterwards! Sometime to wrap around your belly is a must-have! I felt like everything was going to fall out my incision. A long muslin wrap to tie around my waist spared me a lot of pain.

  18. Personal

    July 19, 2014 at 7:31 am

    I keep hearing people say to get up and walk as much as possible. I have always heard that. Why?
    In my case, I followed that advice and walked and got up and was very independent. Over a week later, when they had to puncture the scar to let out the blood clots that had formed there, the doctor told me that it came from ‘not resting enough’ and ‘doing too much.’

    • Lisa

      July 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Since I’ve never had a c-section or birthed a child, I can’t tell you the reason for that specifically. However, in general after major surgery (such as hip surgery), medical professionals want you to get up and get moving, as it helps in the healing process to move as you naturally would. The longer you stay in bed and don’t move, the likelier it is that contractures (muscles shortening) are going to occur, as well as other issues.

    • Personal

      July 19, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks for that.

    • Jezebeelzebub

      July 19, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      it’s to prevent fluid from collecting in your lungs (from laying down a lot, that’s also why you are told to suck on the spiromoter) and to promote venous return- which prevents pulmonary embolism and deep vein thromboses which will kill you stone dead. also, the more you move around the better oxygenated your blood is and the faster you will heal. also, moving around makes your guts work better so you won;t get (as) constipated which is a problem already when you are on pain meds. there’s a golden middle between not doing anything and doing all the things, which is why there are nurses to regulate yo’ ass. 🙂

    • ScienceGeek

      July 20, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      The midwife told me that my organs weren’t where they used to be and standing and walking would help get them back where they belonged. I know it helped a lot with the whole pooping and farting thing.

  19. NYCNanny

    July 20, 2014 at 12:43 am

    This sounds awful!! Why would anyone pre-schedule a c section??!!

    • JAN

      July 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      I never had to have a CSection but can think of reasons to have a scheduled CSection. My best friend had a transverse breach, the doctor even gave her an epidural and tried to rotate the baby, she put cold packs on her belly, she stood on her freaking head, baby was still transverse, the onky responsible thing to do was schedule a c section.

    • ScienceGeek

      July 20, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      I think the most common reasons are things like placenta pravia and health problems with the mother or complications with the baby that make a natural birth more dangerous than a c-section. Basically, the OB/GYN does a risk assessment and advises the mother-to-be on the best course of action. Mine was all in favour of a natural birth, but then I failed to dilate beyond 5cm after a day and a half of labour and needed an emergency c-section. When I came in for my 6 week check up, she told me straight out that any future babies would need to be cut out.

  20. ScienceGeek

    July 20, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Seconding the ‘Take the Drugs’ suggestion. Take enough drugs to get back on your feet and walking. The doctors have to move your organs around a bit to get to the baby and you need gravity to fix that up. Then the pooping can happen.
    Related to the moving of organs, it turns out that air will get in too. Don’t be surprised if you have a weird ache in your shoulder/s immediately afterwards. It feels like you’ve pulled a muscle but it passes in a couple of hours.
    Oh, and I found I was FREEZING afterwards. May have been because my wee little heater was gone, or one of the drugs they gave me, but yeah, I was a very big fan of the warmed blankets that night.

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