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Health After Pregnancy

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Last Reviewed: April 2017

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Bringing Baby Home

Recovering from Childbirth

Normal changes after childbirth | Recovering from a caesarean section | Checkup after birth |

Recovering from a caesarean section

Key Points

  • Full recovery can take 4-6 weeks.
  • Ask family and friends for help as you recover.
  • Walking and eating healthy will help your body heal.
  • Use safe pain medications: tell your health care provider that you're breastfeeding.

A caesarean section (or "C-section") is the delivery of a baby through a surgical cut (incision) in the mother's abdomen and uterus.

Except for vaginal discomfort, a woman who's had a caesarean section not only experiences the normal physical and emotional changes following childbirth, but also the effects of major abdominal surgery at the same time.

Fully recovering from a caesarean section usually takes 4-6 weeks. Feeling tired is common. You'll need to take good care of yourself and your baby, so asking family and friends to help with care for older children and household chores is important.

Resting & walking

Get lots of rest

Plan to get lots of rest when you bring your baby home.

Organize diapers, wipes, extra clothes and other baby items in one place to avoid unnecessary trips up and down the stairs. When you first come home from the hospital, don't lift anything heavier than your baby.

Start walking - when you feel ready

Although resting is important, you'll need to get up and walk.

Walking helps your body heal and prevents complications like blood clots. Walking should become easier with each passing day.

Listen to your body to decide when - and how far - to walk. Stop and rest if you start feeling tired or a lot of pain and discomfort while walking.

Pain relief

It's normal to feel pain in and around your incision. You might also feel numbness and itching as your incision heals.

Your pain following a caesarean section should lessen every day. You might also reduce your discomfort by:

  • Supporting your abdomen near your incision when moving suddenly or coughing or laughing.
  • Using extra pillows for extra support while breastfeeding.

Safe pain medications while breastfeeding

Speak to your health care provider about over-the-counter pain medications you can take to relieve the pain from your surgery.

Some pain medications can pass through breast milk to your baby, so when seeking pain relief, be sure to tell your health care provider that you're breastfeeding. Your health care provider will tell you which pain medications are both effective and safe for your baby.

Eating healthy

Follow the Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide to help your body heal and support breastfeeding.

Eating healthy - such as choosing high-fibre foods and drinking lots of fluids - can help prevent constipation caused by being less active and taking certain pain medications.

Talk to your health care provider if you're experiencing constipation.

Feelings of disappointment

Some women feel disappointed after having a caesarean section, especially if it was unplanned. You might feel like you've failed if your birth plan didn't happen as you'd hoped and you couldn't give birth vaginally.

Talk to your health care provider if these feelings of disappointment last longer than 2 weeks.

When to contact your health care provider

A caesarean section is a major surgery, so it carries more risk than a vaginal birth.

Contact your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms after you get home:

  • Fever.
  • Signs of infection around your incision (swelling, redness, warmth, or pus).
  • Pain around your incision or in your abdomen that comes on suddenly or gets worse.
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding.
  • Leg pains.
  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain.

Related links:

Speak with a Peel Public Health Nurse
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216

Bringing baby home | Staying healthy | Dealing with the unexpected
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Revised: Wednesday June 28 2017


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