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C-Section Post Partum Care

Almost 1 in every 3 births requires c-section post partum care. Most of these women have little or no understanding of exactly what recovery will look like.

The best thing to remember is that you have just undergone major abdominal surgery.

This article is designed to inform you of the c-section post partum care you will receive at the hospital and before you are released to go home with your hard-earned baby-prize.

Post Operation Care for Cesareans

The post op care you receive at the hospital is generally prolonged (about 3-5 days). Immediately following surgery, you will remain in the operating area for several hours for observation.

During this time, you won't be able to eat or drink (only ice chips if you're lucky). All liquids (including medication) will be given intravenously through an IV. A catheter will drain your urine. All these fluids (both in and out) will be carefully measured and recorded.

After several hours of observation, you'll be checked for vaginal and incision bleeding, changes in blood pressure or temperature, and adequate hydration. If you pass all these tests, you will finally be transferred to the postpartum unit.

Despite your exhaustion, part of your c-section post partum care will require the nurses to wake you up every few hours to bring in your newborn for feeding and take your temperature.

c section post partum care 1
Clear fluids like tea will be
your first source of nourishment.
{Photo by Mandolina}
The presence of a fever will provide them with the earliest indication of an infection, and allow them to get you on antibiotics as soon as possible.

After the transfer to your recovery room, your diet will change from nothing at all to clear fluids only (apple juice, tea, and Jell-o). At the end of a 24-hour period, your catheter will be removed.

The final approval for regular food will be given once your digestive system shows signs of working (by passing gas).

If the doctor used staples to close the incision, they will be removed before you go home. Sometimes Steri-Strips (adhesive strips like super Band-Aids) will be put on after the staples are removed. They may stay on for 10 days before removal. If they peel off on their own, don't feel you have to replace them.

Your nurse will encourage you to get up and walk around a little every few hours. Getting out of the bed will be painful, but walking (even a little) is a vital step on the path to full recovery.

What Can You Do About Pain After Giving Birth?

An obvious part of c-section post partum care is pain management. You will definitely be in some pain after giving birth. Fortunately, modern science provides us with relief.

After 12-24 hours, your epidural will be removed and you'll be free to move slowly around. You will be allowed one shot of pain medication every three or four hours or be set up on a PCA system. In this system, you push a button when you are feeling pain and the machine automatically administers the correct dosage of pain medication. There is no bothering a nurse, and no chances of overdosing - technology at its finest.

Coughing, sneezing, or laughing can be painful. When you feel the onset of any of these, bend your knees and support the incision with a blanket, pillow, or your hands.

As part of your c-section post partum care, your nurse will educate you on these positions and various abdominal strengthening exercises. Do not be shy about seeking pain management medication while recovering. It will help you get comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the easier you will find healing and bonding with your baby to be.

If you are breastfeeding, try to take the medication a half-hour before feeding, so the nursing will be comfortable and relaxed. A little of this medication may make its way to your baby, but other than a little sleepiness, the effects are minimal.

By the time your c-section post partum care is finished and you are released to go home, you will most likely be taking two Tylenol every four hours for effective pain management. Once you are in charge of your own pain medication, avoid requesting drugs with codeine, since they can cause constipation and are habit-forming.


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Proper c-section post partum care at the hospital is essentially important in getting you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Use this information to provide a general idea of what to expect in those few days between surgery and going home. The knowledge will hopefully make the upcoming surgery less stressful.


All the photos on this page can be found at www.flickr.com and were used
according to licensing requirements.

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