Cesarean Delivery

Care After

Refer to this sheet in the next few weeks. These instructions provide you with information on caring for yourself after your procedure. Your caregiver may also give you more specific instructions. Your treatment has been planned according to current medical practices, but problems sometimes occur. Call your caregiver if you have any problems or questions after your procedure.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Healing will take time. You will have discomfort, tenderness, swelling, and bruising at the surgery site for a couple of weeks. This is normal and will get better as time goes on.

Activity

  • Rest as much as possible the first 2 weeks.

  • When possible, have someone help you with your household activities and your baby for 2 to 3 weeks.

  • Limit your housework and social activity. Increase your activity gradually as your strength returns.

  • Do not climb stairs more than 2 to 3 times a day.

  • Do not lift anything heavier than your baby.

  • Follow your caregiver's instructions about driving a car.

  • Exercise only as directed by your caregiver.

Nutrition

  • You may return to your usual diet. Eat a well-balanced diet.

  • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.

  • Keep taking your prenatal or multivitamins.

  • Do not drink alcohol until your caregiver says it is okay.

Elimination

You should return to your usual bowel function. If you develop constipation, ask your caregiver about taking a mild laxative that will help you go to the bathroom. Bran foods and fluids help with constipation. Gradually add fruit, vegetables, and bran to your diet.

Hygiene

  • You may shower, wash your hair, and take tub baths unless your caregiver tells you otherwise.

  • Continue perineal care until your vaginal bleeding and discharge stops.

  • Do not douche or use tampons until your caregiver says it is okay.

Fever

If you feel feverish or have shaking chills, take your temperature. The fever may indicate infection. Infections can be treated with antibiotic medicine.

Pain Control and Medicine

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicine as directed by your caregiver. Do not take aspirin. It can cause bleeding.

  • Do not drive when taking pain medicine.

  • Talk to your caregiver about restarting or adjusting your normal medicines.

Incision Care

  • Clean your cut (incision) gently with soap and water, then pat dry.

  • If your caregiver says it is okay, leave the incision without a bandage (dressing) unless it is draining fluid or irritated.

  • If you have small adhesive strips across the incision and they do not fall off within 7 days, carefully peel them off.

  • Check the incision daily for increased redness, drainage, swelling, or separation of skin.

  • Hug a pillow when coughing or sneezing. This helps to relieve pain.

Vaginal Care

You may have a vaginal discharge or bleeding for up to 6 weeks. If the vaginal discharge becomes bright red, bad smelling, heavy in amount, has blood clots, or if you have burning or frequent urination, call your caregiver. If your bleeding slows down and then gets heavier, your body is telling you to slow down and relax more.

Sexual Intercourse

  • Check with your caregiver before resuming sexual activity. Often, after 4 to 6 weeks, if you feel good and are well rested, sexual activity may be resumed. Avoid positions that strain the incision site.

  • You can become pregnant before you have a period. If you decide to have sexual intercourse, use birth control if you do not want to become pregnant right away.

Health Practices

  • Keep all your postpartum appointments as recommended by your caregiver. Generally, your caregiver will want to see you in 2 to 3 weeks.

  • Continue with your yearly pelvic exams.

  • Continue monthly self-breast exams and yearly physical exams with a Pap test.

Breast Care

  • If you are not breastfeeding and your breasts become tender, hard, or leak milk, you may wear a tight-fitting bra and apply ice to your breasts.

  • If you are breastfeeding, wear a good support bra.

  • Call your caregiver if you have breast pain, flu-like symptoms, fever, or hardness and reddening of your breasts.

Postpartum Blues

You may have a period of low spirits or "blues" after your baby is born. Discuss your feelings with your partner, family, and friends. This may be caused by the changing hormone levels in your body. You may want to contact your caregiver if this is worrisome.

Miscellaneous

  • Limit wearing support panties or control-top hose.

  • If you breastfeed, you may not have a period for several months or longer. This is normal for the nursing mother. If you do not menstruate within 6 weeks after you stop breastfeeding, see your caregiver.

  • If you are not breastfeeding, you can expect to menstruate within 6 to 10 weeks after birth. If you have not started by the 11th week, check with your caregiver.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • There is swelling, redness, or increasing pain in the wound area.

  • You have pus coming from the wound.

  • You notice a bad smell from the wound or surgical dressing.

  • You have pain, redness, and swelling from the intravenous (IV) site.

  • Your wound breaks open (the edges are not staying together).

  • You feel dizzy or feel like fainting.

  • You develop pain or bleeding when you urinate.

  • You develop diarrhea.

  • You develop nausea and vomiting.

  • You develop abnormal vaginal discharge.

  • You develop a rash.

  • You have any type of abnormal reaction or develop an allergy to your medicine.

  • Your pain is not relieved by your medicine or becomes worse.

  • Your temperature is 101° F (38.3° C), or is 100.4° F (38° C) taken 2 times in a 4 hour period.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE:

  • You develop a temperature of 102° F (38.9° C) or higher.

  • You develop abdominal pain.

  • You develop chest pain.

  • You develop shortness of breath.

  • You faint.

  • You develop pain, swelling, or redness of your leg.

  • You develop heavy vaginal bleeding with or without blood clots.