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Caring for a mother after a C-section

A Caesarean delivery or a C-section is a major surgery and the recovery period takes a longer time compared to a vaginal birth. Special care and attention are needed after a C-section and it is especially important to keep an eye on the incision as it heals.

Release of lochia

Lochia is discharged after birth and it starts off with red and small clumps, then changes into brown, pink, and creamy white colour discharge. Women who had a C-section will typically have less lochia than those with vaginal births. That’s because doctors clean out the uterus after a C-section to ensure the placenta and membranes have been completely removed. This is not the case in vaginal birth as clearing-out happens naturally, so they will pass out more tissue and blood.

The bleeding should taper off day-by-day but if it suddenly becomes heavier with clots or foul-smell, it might be a symptom of infection. Do not attempt abdominal massage to encourage the lochia released as it can cause wound breakdown and infection to the surgical site.

Tips for speedy recovery after a C-section

1. Rest well

Mothers who went through a C-section requires more time to be observed by doctors to ensure full recovery before being discharged. Therefore, expect to stay in the hospital for three to four days after your delivery (or longer if there are complications), and give your body up to six weeks to fully heal itself.

In hospital, your baby’s needs will be taken care by nurses and you can have all your time to rest. At home, it is best to have family members or a caretaker to deal with nappy changes and house chores so that you can have better rests.  

You are encouraged to walk around to prevent complications like blood clots and constipation but take a rest if you feel pain and could not take it. Take it slow but continue doing it. Keep your needs close to you and avoid climbing up and down the stairs. Don’t lift anything heavy or strain your body. Ask for help from your spouse or a friend or family members. Whenever you feel like sneezing or coughing, hold your abdomen to protect the incision site.

It could take up to eight weeks for you to get back into your normal routine. Do consult your doctor if you want to exercise, go back to work, or drive. Do also ask your doctor if it is okay for you to have sex or use tampons.

Besides your physical health, your emotional and mental health is equally important. ‘Baby blues’ or postpartum depression is a big issue, therefore do not neglect yourself. Share your concerns with a friend, your partner, your doctor, or a counselor.

2. Use painkillers

After the C-section, the effect of the anesthetic will gradually disappear, and the wounds on the incision site will become more uncomfortable. After 5-6 hours postpartum, the wound will start to be very painful. You can ask your doctor for painkillers and it is fine to take painkillers if you can’t bear the pain. Physical pain can affect your emotions. Plus the exhaustion of taking care of your newborn, it will take a toll on you. Prescription medication are safe for you and your baby and if you are in doubt, please ask your doctor. In addition to painkillers, you can use a heating pad to relieve any discomfort at the incision site.

3. Keep the wound clean

You can shower after 24 hour post -surgery as doing so helps reduce the risk of infection. Avoid scrubbing on your incision site instead, let the soapy water run over it. Let it dry by gently patting over the area, apply antiseptic cream and cover with bandages. Do as per recommended by your doctor. It is best to avoid taking a bath (submerge inside water).  

4. Urinate as soon as possible after surgery

You can get out of bed after pulling the urinary catheter. This is to prevent urinary tract infection (UTI). In addition, motivate yourself to exercise and not to stay in bed all the time. Drink more water to rehydrate your body and flush out the toxins.

5. C-section diet

Your gastrointestinal function will slowly recover about 24 hours after the operation. You may take liquid food such as egg soup or rice soup. Farting indicates that your  gastrointestinal motility has returned, and you can eat semi-liquid foods such as porridge, noodle soup, and others before switching to a normal diet. You should also take a lot of vegetables and fruits as foods rich in fibre can help avoid constipation.

Having constipation would make it worse for your ongoing scar healing process.

6. Pamper yourself and get a massage

You can get a leg, feet, head and back massage after a C-section but wait at least 7 weeks before you get an abdominal massage. A postnatal massage helps increase the blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, which soothes sore muscle and give relaxation.

Warning alert

If any of the following symptoms occur, seek your doctor immediately:

  • Red, hard, tender or feeling warm around your incision
  • Incision breakdown and/or bleeding of incision
  • Moderate or large amount of oozing from the wound
  • Foul smelling discharge from the wound
  • Fever

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