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Cesarean Birth After Care – Postpartum Period

The baby's been born, so now the whole family can sit back and relax a bit--right?  Wrong!  You need to understand something known as the "postpartum period."  This refers to the early days and weeks following a new baby's birth.  During this time, the new mom often feels both overwhelmed and drained.  This is especially true for a mother who has undergone a cesarean:  Her body especially needs some time to regain strength.  Let's take a look at how a mom--and her family--should treat this period of Cesarean after-care.

This after-care begins before you leave the hospital.  Before you go home, the medical staff will try to motivate you to go to the bathroom by yourself within 24 days of the surgery.  This gets you adjusted to moving around again, even with your incision.  During these first few times on your feet, don't move too fast, or you may suffer from bouts of dizziness and breathlessness.

Be prepared for the fact that urinating for the first time without the catheter will likely cause some pain.  You might ask a nurse for suggestions to make this easier.

Some other things that will happen before you leave the hospital:  Any staples used will probably be removed; your uterus will also begin shrinking to the size it was before you were pregnant.  You'll start experiencing heavy bleeding ("lochia"), which could continue for 4 to 6 weeks.  Make sure you have lots of absorbent menstrual pads to tend to his.  The hospital will probably provide you with some before you leave.

Once you're home, keep activity to a minimum until instructed to move around more by your doctor.  This means you should not lift anything that weighs more than your baby. Also, avoid strenuous housework.  Over the course of a couple weeks, the lochia bleeding might actually change when you move around or change positions.  Use this as a sign to decrease your activity. Then, with time, the color will change to a light pink, and finally to a light color.  Be sure to monitor yourself for pain or fever; if you experience either, contact your doctor, since this could be an indicator of infection.

Use this period to bond with your new child on a daily basis.  Some moms after a cesarean delivery have some difficulty with breastfeeding. If you do, call a lactation counselor for help. Above all, be willing to ask for help.  A new baby adds new responsibilities to the household, just at the time when you're least able to handle it physically.  So have family and friends help out until you've fully recovered. Having established what you should do during this period, here are some things you should avoid during this period of cesarean aftercare:

  • Use of douches or tampons;
  • sex with your partner (unless your doctor okays it);
  • baths;
  • hot tubs and public pools;
  • heavy lifting (nothing that weighs more than your baby);
  • exercise (unless your doctor approves it).

Finally, have your doctor's phone number handy at all times.  You should call him / her immediately if you get a fever more than a hundred degrees, if you get a severe headache that won't relent, if you feel sudden pain in the abdomen, if there is a bad smell from the vagina, if you see a pus discharge from the incision area, if you experience a swollen, painful area on either leg, if there is blood in the urine, if you get hives or a rash, if there is an extreme amount of bleeding that saturates a maxi pad in an hour or less, or if there are painful areas on the breasts along with flu-like symptoms.

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