Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What to Expect after a C-Section

Justin with Caden
There is plenty of information about what to expect during pregnancy. But with 1 in 3 women in the U.S. having a C-section, it is important to know what to expect afterward (taken from the Mayo Clinic with inserted notes from me):

After the procedure
After a C-section, most mothers and babies stay in the hospital for about three days. To control pain as the anesthesia wears off, you might use a pump that allows you to adjust the dose of intravenous (IV) pain medication.

Soon after your C-section, you'll be encouraged to get up and walk. Moving around can speed your recovery and help prevent constipation [it hurts to poop] and potentially dangerous blood clots.

While you're in the hospital, your health care team will monitor your incision for signs of infection. They'll also monitor your movement, how much fluid you're drinking, and bladder and bowel function. [You will have a catheter until you can pee on your own. You will also be put on a liquid-only diet for a day or so.]

Discomfort near the C-section incision can make breastfeeding somewhat awkward. With help, however, you'll be able to start breastfeeding soon after the C-section. Ask your nurse or the hospital's lactation consultant to teach you how to position yourself and support your baby so that you're comfortable. [A nursing pillow can help.]

Remember that trying to breastfeed when you're in pain might make the process more difficult. Your health care team will select medications for your post-surgical pain with breastfeeding in mind. Continuing to take the medication shouldn't interfere with breastfeeding. [An important factor in establishing breastfeeding is immediate skin-to-skin contact. Learn what your hospital's policy is and see if you can have nurses postpone the baby's tests for an hour or so if the baby is healthy so you can hold your baby as soon as you are stitched up.]

Before you leave the hospital, talk with your health care provider about any preventive care you might need, including vaccinations. Making sure your vaccinations are current can help protect your health and your baby's health. 

[Bring things to do for those three days in the hospital! You won't get nearly as much as sleep as you expect.]

When you go home
It takes about four to six weeks for a C-section incision to heal. Fatigue and discomfort are common. While you're recovering:
  • Take it easy. Rest when possible. Try to keep everything that you and your baby might need within reach. For the first few weeks, avoid lifting from a squatting position or lifting anything heavier than your baby.
  • Support your abdomen. Use good posture when you stand and walk. [You may also have to sleep in a reclining position instead of on your back for a few days.] Hold your abdomen near the incision during sudden movements, such as coughing, sneezing or laughing [it hurts when you do any of these!]. Use pillows or rolled up towels for extra support while breastfeeding.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking water and other fluids can help replace the fluid lost during delivery and breastfeeding, as well as prevent constipation.
  • Take medication as needed. Your health care provider might recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or other medications to relieve pain. Most pain relief medications are safe for women who are breastfeeding.
  • Avoid sex. Don't have sex until your health care provider gives you the green light — often four to six weeks after surgery. You don't have to give up on intimacy in the meantime, though. Spend time with your partner, even if it's just a few minutes in the morning or after the baby goes to sleep at night.
It's also important to know when to contact your health care provider. Make the call if you experience:
  • Any signs of infection — such as a fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C), severe pain in your abdomen, or redness, swelling, and discharge at your incision site
  • Breast pain accompanied by redness or fever
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Painful urination
  • Bleeding that soaks a sanitary napkin within an hour or contains large clots
  • Leg pain or swelling
[Before being discharged and at your two-week postpartum checkup, your doctor will remove the dressing, which hurts like a million bandages being ripped off (at least for me). Your incision site may continue to be sensitive for months.]

Anything else you C-section ladies would like to add?


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