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Recovering From a Cesarean Section: Timeline and Tips

Chin chin is a Christian stay-at-home mom with five children. She's been a Sunday School teacher for about 30 years now.

Image by Nelson Kwok (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Image by Nelson Kwok (CC BY-SA 2.0)

If I only knew that a cesarean recovery was that difficult, I would have done everything I could to avoid having a c-section delivery.

You see, I am a mom of five children. I had already gotten away with normal vaginal deliveries for my first four children. Unfortunately, the last one had to undergo a cesarean delivery.

I believe I could have had a normal delivery for the 5th time, but why did it happen?

God must have allowed me to go through this so that I could learn from this painful experience and be able to share with other pregnant moms what it is like to have a cesarean recovery and what can be done to help ease the recovery.

Avoid It or Live Through It

Let me just say this first before I describe the recovery process I went through: If you can avoid cesarean delivery, AVOID IT!

After having gone through both normal and cesarean childbirth, I can say that it is much better to have a normal delivery. Here are my reasons why:

  • Cesarean delivery is a major abdominal surgery; therefore, recovery is a much longer (minimum 6-8 weeks) and more painful process than if you had a normal delivery.
  • There are complications like excessive bleeding, reaction to anesthesia and medications, possible injury to the baby especially if the operation was done prior to 39 weeks.
  • Cesarean delivery is a lot more expensive since you have to pay extra for the operating room, the anesthesiologist, and the extended stay (usually 3-4 days after delivery) at the hospital.

It is said that 1 out of 4 childbirths now are done via cesarean section. I don't have anything against it. If it is necessary as pointed out in the video above, by all means, do it.

However, you've got to live through the pain as I have. It is easier said than done. The doctors and those who've gone through it, including my mom who had 3 cesarean sections, make it seem so easy to recover.

I've even read some testimony by moms in forums that their recovery is not that bad. But when you're in that predicament, it is quite different. Of course, it is a still case-by-case basis.

Cesarean Recovery

Recovering from a C-section delivery is really a challenge. I needed to rest as much as I could and muster all the strength I could to recover faster.

The First 24 Hours

After the surgery, these are the typical things I had that are to be expected:

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  • I had gas pains in the abdominal area. In fact, this was more painful for me at this time compared to the incision. Rubbing Aceite Manzanilla (a mixture of Chamomile oil and Citronella oil) on the affected area helps soothe the gas pains. Some say peppermint oil will also work. Otherwise, you can ask the doctor to give you something for the gas pain.
  • I also felt numbness in the abdominal area. It really was weird and awkward, but this was quite normal.
  • The nurse removed the catheter within 12 hours after delivery, so I was forced to go to the toilet early on. It is really difficult getting up and lying down at first, but it will get better.
  • Movements like shuffling your legs and circling the ankles and slow, short frequent walks are encouraged. This helps move the gas through and prevent stiffness around the incision area thereby recovering faster.
  • Just like with vaginal birth, there was bleeding (similar to menstruation).
  • I was given a soft diet (soup and juice) until my gastrointestinal system was working normally.

The Next 2-4 Days in the Hospital

  • Now, the effect of the anesthesia had worn off; therefore, it was helpful not to wait for the onset of pain before taking some pain medications.
  • I was able to get up from the bed, walk farther, sit, and lie down more easily now, but the abdominal area and the incision were not without pain. Coughing, sneezing, and laughing caused pain to this area. Holding a pillow against it lessened or controlled the pain.
  • I got to hold and carry my baby at this time. They say the heaviest that a mom should lift after the cesarean is her newborn. I got to breastfeed my baby only on the 3rd day because it was only then that I had breast milk. For moms who have breastmilk after giving birth, they can breastfeed their baby right away.
  • I started to have itchiness on my back. This was a terrible reaction to the anesthesia. This actually grew worse and spread to all of my body and extremities for more than two weeks. I itched so much that sometimes I cried. I tried all sorts of things from calamine to lemon water to fenugreek tea to antihistamine but it did not help much. Some don't experience this though. Good for them.
  • The OB examined the suture and cleaned and covered it with a waterproof dressing. I actually got to take a bath on the 3rd day. They said it was all right.
  • When I was able to pass gas, they adjusted my diet to a regular one.

Going Home

  • On the 4th day, I was discharged from the hospital with some medications and instructions until the next follow-up appointment with the doctor.
  • At home, it was good that my husband and four children helped with the chores, while I concentrated on caring for the new baby. I had to forego most of the chores for 2-4 weeks, especially those that required bending, stretching, or stooping. Doing heavy work might cause heavy bleeding or the suture to re-open.
  • I found wearing abdominal support or a cesarean belt helpful in keeping the wound from being moved and aching. When I want to do something and tried to do it and felt no pain, I went ahead with the activity. A good rule of thumb is to listen to your body.
  • It took a while before I could do any exercise routine. I waited at least eight weeks after the cesarean and did only very light exercise.
  • The healing of my incision and overall recovery went well except for the itching. However, if you experience any bleeding or oozing from your incision (sign of infection) or your suture re-opens, contact your doctor immediately.

Lessons Learned

  1. If you can avoid having a cesarean delivery, avoid it.
  2. If you have to go through a cesarean delivery, be prepared to have a lot of patience and endurance.
  3. Rest. If possible, sleep when the baby is sleeping so that when they are awake you have all the energy you need to take care of them. Despite the pain you are still feeling, ENJOY YOUR NEW BABY.
  4. Take care of your body and listen. We moms like to do a lot of things around the house especially when we have other children to take care of. But we have to take things slowly during the cesarean recovery period, or we might find ourselves going back to the doctor for complications. When doing an activity and you feel pain, STOP.
  5. Don't hesitate to seek help and support from family and friends. If they can help do some of the chores for you or take care of the other children, take their offered help to allow more time for your self to rest and heal.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Chin chin (author) from Philippines on July 20, 2012:

Hi Jasmith. If you can deliver the baby the normal way, that is the best. Post-delivery recovery is very fast. Even after 4 hours, I remember I can stand and walk on my own. Ask your doctor about what to expect when you are about to deliver and don't panic. Regarding CS, your doctor would only recommend it if the situation warrants it - either because of your health and safety or the baby's. I know it's scary. I was too but I prayed and trusted God that everything will be okay. It also helps to know your husband or a family is there for you. I will include you in my prayers for a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery. God bless you.

Jasmith on July 20, 2012:

Hi chin chin I am pregnant and this my first time am really scared cox I never had something like this before in my life pls give me some advice should I go through cs or normal birth pls I need ur help thanks !!!!!!

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on August 07, 2011:

Salvacion, thanks for sharing your experience with having C-section. Though many go through the pains of CS, it doesn't have to hinder us from enjoying our kids. It's good that gotten over the postpartum depression stage.

Anjee, why are you scared? Pain will always be part of giving birth whether by normal delivery or C-section. I suggest talking to your partner and/or doctor who can help you address the fear that you are feeling. Also, pray.

anjee on August 06, 2011:

im going to have my third c section and im scareed to death

salvacion from naga city on March 12, 2010:

gosh i had my two kids through Caesarean delivery and thankfully i have my family to help me through it all esp on the first one when i dont have any idea what was going on and why i didn't have my child through normal birth. On the first time, it was bad. There was a lot of pain and I had to endure a bad and almost thirty minute chill and a very high fever. But on my second time, it was better, i even got to go shopping with my hubby after one week-though it was still painful and i had to rest every now and then while shopping hehehe..I cried though when i had to do it again for the second time because it felt like i can never experience being a real mom until im able to give birth to a baby in a normal way. Thankfully i got over this depression and just concentrated on how cute my kids are, and how wonderful they are, and how they need me as they grow older..Each day is a wonder with my kids and giving birth to them in any way doesn't matter at all. What matters is that they're okey and i'm having fun with them everyday!..

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on November 12, 2009:

It is good for you that you had all 5 children birthed naturally. Though there is much pain during labor, the recovery is much faster. Overall, the pain in caesarean birth is much more compared to natural birth compared to caesarean birth. Thanks for your comments.

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on November 12, 2009:

Chin Chin, I had all five of my now grown children through natural childbirth. But one of my daughter in laws had a C section delivery. This information has been most informative! You have given an excellent contrast between the two birth procedures. Thank you for sharing. Time goes by so fast so Enjoy your baby. Im sure you are a wonderful mother! Blessings!

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 19, 2009:

Lady Guinevere, I'll take all the time now to enjoy them.

Westernangel, it's good for you that you had natural childbirth, so much better and faster recovery for moms. Thanks for the welcome.

westernangel from Canada on October 17, 2009:

Hi chin chin, Good and informative hub. I fortunately had natural childbirth for all of my children, but I have been through some major surgeries and it is not fun. WElcome to HubPages

Debra Allen from West By God on October 17, 2009:

I still have mine. I sit in it every now and again. Have fun with all your babies. They are so much fun---er--until the hit 13 that is! LOL

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 17, 2009:

Lorelie6, thanks for reading this hub. It does bring back memories, but time heals all pain, right?

Itakins, moms need to be tougher after the cs especially if there are other tots to take care of. Thanks for visiting this hub.

Lady Guinevere, I did have a rocking chair, too, in my 1st and 2nd pregnancies, but it broke. Never got to buy one again. It helps lull baby to sleep, mom, too.

Debra Allen from West By God on October 16, 2009:

Yes, I used my rocking chair quit often while breastfeeding. Yes I used a pillow to lay her on too.

itakins from Irl on October 16, 2009:

Especially tough when you have to look after other tots!memories too!Great hub.

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on October 16, 2009:

Boy, did this bring back memories. I gave birth to my son 21 years ago by C-Section and am to this day convinced the gas pain was worse than the contractions.

Thanks for sharing this story!

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 15, 2009:

Definitely. Though after a c-section, you have to find a comfortable position. It's best to try sitting up with a pillow on the lap where the baby lies down to breastfeed so as not to hurt the cs wound. But I like best to breastfeed in a position where both of us are lying sideways, very relaxing and when she falls asleep, I don't have to move her and she could sleep on undisturbed.

Thanks Lady Guinevere for taking time to leave your comments.

Debra Allen from West By God on October 15, 2009:

Yes, I breastfed in bed too. It was much comfortable.

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 15, 2009:

Hmmm. I think we were blessed that the company where my husband worked considered his 5-day absence from work as paid sick leave - as accompanying a sick patient or dependent, only 1 day was considered paternity leave. That would be great if it had been 6 weeks.

As for me, I have lots of bonding with my baby because I get her to sleep with me in bed. It's most recommendable as when I have to breastfeed her, I don't have to get out of bed. That's how it went with all of my 5 children.

Debra Allen from West By God on October 15, 2009:

I really think that companies should consider having a paternity leave for those of us in the world who have to undergo this type of surgery. It is considered MAJOR surgery and needs to be treated that way and yes for the entire 6 weeks. This would give the mother some recovery time and help the family "bond" together as a whole. Well this is a eutopia concept because the first thing they tell mothers is to get the baby to sleep in it's own bed in it's own room. The first year of a child's life is the stepping stone to the rest of it's life as in how it responds to the world around him/her.

Sorry, got a little bit off-topic.

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 15, 2009:

We should all be thankful for our moms who bore all the pains of childbirth, whether normal or c section. Thank you for dropping by jacobkuttyta.

Jacob from Delhi, India on October 15, 2009:

Thanks for the informative hub. Mom told me that she went through a C section.

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 15, 2009:

The bikini cut incision healed I think in 2 weeks after cs. The doctor removed the suture, cleaned it then told me I can wash it with soap and dry it.

However, the fast healing is only on the outside but the inside healing takes much longer and the pain stays for at least 6-8 weeks. In fact until now, I can still feel a tingling sensation when I run my fingers across my lower abdomen.

The doctor prescribed some painkiller and antibiotics for 5 days after going home. It was actually not enough because I could still feel considerable pain but I had to just tolerate it. I believe it is safe to take even if I'm breastfeeding.

It was really difficult having to take care of 5 children after the c-section. It was good that my husband took a 5-day vacation after I got out of the hospital so I could have ample recovery and he could help take care of the children.

Debra Allen from West By God on October 14, 2009:

Yeah! I remember that we lived in my hsuband's basement and had to go up and down stairs, against the Dr's wishes, to go to the bathroom and the kitchen. THAT was painful! What I think it is better and a faster heal with the Bibkin cut because it goes in line with the muscles while the horizontal cut goes against the muscle and take longer to heal.

It is hard to take care of a child while in that much pain. They didn't give me pain killers because I was breastfeeding. Did they give you any?

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 14, 2009:

Lady Guinevere, thank you for sharing your experience. There are just some cases of pregnancy that ends in c-section like yours. You are right, I had the bikini cut. I am just not sure if there's any difference in the pain between the 2 types of incision. Still, it is painful, right? After all, it's been 32 years and you can still remember the pain.

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 14, 2009:

Yes prasetio30, after the caesarean surgery, is pain and not just for days as in normal delivery but for at least 6 weeks, and I'm also talking from experience not just research.

Thank you for reading this hub.

Debra Allen from West By God on October 14, 2009:

I had a c-section with my fist child and then again with my second. They were both horrendous experiences indeed as you say. Though there are two different ways to have a c-section. I beleive the one you are talking about is the bikini cut. I had the ones that cut from just under the belly button to the top of my pubic mound/bone. I still remember the pain of it all and my oldest is 32 years old. There was no avoiding the c-section with my first as she had her foot in the birth canal and therefore had to be taken with the longer cut.

Good Hub!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on October 14, 2009:

you have great research about this case. As we know it looks pain and hurt after Caesarean surgery.

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 13, 2009:

Thank you syam for reading my hub.

syam17 from Indonesia on October 13, 2009:

nice hubs sister :)

Chin chin (author) from Philippines on October 12, 2009:

Hi. Keira7. A baby in the arms of a mom sure feels all the pain. Thanks for reading this hub.

keira7 on October 11, 2009:

Hello Chin chin, I had a caesarean as well, and what help me, its exactly what you said. "Despite the pain....ENJOY YOUR NEW BABY". I was so happy when my son was born, that I forgot about the pain. Thank you for this nice hub. Take care and God Bless you.

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