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After having a baby by C-section, it’s normal to experience pain, soreness, and even bleeding. After all, you’ve just had major abdominal surgery and your body needs time to recover. It also means you’ll need to be more aware of what you can and can’t do as your body heals. Here are tips for how to care for your C-section incision and what activities will encourage healing.
The biggest change (other than having a new baby) is changing your physical activity until you’ve healed. These guidelines for what to expect afterward will help your body heal as quickly as possible.
Take time to sit and bond with your baby.
Rest when you’re tired.
Walk every day. Walking helps prevent blood clots and constipation.
Hold a pillow over your incision when you need to cough or laugh.
Reach out to a lactation consultant if you have trouble breastfeeding.
Lift anything heavier than your baby.
Use tampons or douche until you have your doctor’s permission.
Take baths until your incision is healed and your postpartum bleeding has stopped.
Participate in rigorous activity or do core muscle exercises until your doctor clears you for activity.
Have sex until your doctor says you can.
Be afraid to ask for help. That might mean asking friends and family to watch the baby while you nap, or having them do laundry.
Take the stairs repeatedly.
Soak in public pools or hot tubs.
After delivering your baby by C-section, your doctor will tell you how to care for your incision. This care should include:
- Keeping the area dry and clean.
- Use warm, soapy water to wash your incision daily (usually when you shower). Pat the area dry after cleaning.
- If your doctor used tape strips on your incision, let them fall off on their own. This usually takes about a week.
- Use cleansing products that can make your wound heal slowly.
How do you know if your symptoms after a C-section are normal? Call your doctor if you experience:
- Depression, sadness, hopelessness, or you are having troubling thoughts.
- Signs of an infection including pain, pus, swelling, redness, swollen lymph nodes, or a fever.
- A fever of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Discharge from the vagina that smells bad.
- Severe pain in your belly.
- Bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks through more than one pad every 2 hours (or less).
- Vaginal bleeding that gets worse or is still bright red more than 4 days after you’ve had your baby.
- Signs of a blood clot, including pain in your thigh, groin, back of knee, or calf.
- Your incision comes open.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Vaginal clotting larger than a golf ball.
- Trouble passing urine or stool.
Taking care of yourself after having a C-section is just as important as taking care of your newborn. Allow yourself to take it easy. Rest whenever possible, and call your doctor if you have concerns about your health.