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What to expect in terms of recovery after cesarean

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 

I am really grateful this forum is up and running!  I've been waiting anxiously since I will be having a cesarean in the next few days.  I'm wondering if those of you who have had a cesarean can share your experiences with recovery?  My first was a vaginal delivery and this time I'll also have my three year old to take care of and a hubby who travels half the time for work so I'm really nervous.

 

I'm wondering.... How much time did your partner take off of work after your cesarean or how long did you have help from someone else?  Was it enough time?  Did you have older children to care for as well?

 

How long did it take before you were able to do dishes, laundry, cook dinner, vacuum, bend over, etc?

 

How long did it take until you felt totally back to normal and could resume all activities?

 

How long were you in pain for and how long did you need to take painkillers for? 

 

TIA :) 

post #2 of 50

I had my Cesarean in February of this year.

 

I took painkillers, percoset, for 7 or 8 days. I took tylenol for a few days after I ended the percoset.

 

I know some women don't even take the percoset, but I am a pain wimp. Also, I had my c section after 44 hours of failed induction, which I understand is much harder to recover from than a planned c section. So i am just telling you that so you know where I am coming from.

 

I felt totally back to normal and able to resume all activities at 8 weeks. I considered myself totally healed. The only effects present at that time was a little numbness around the scar (which is still slightly present but still fading) and the scar was kind of tight, so if I say, twisted my body quickly I would feel a pulling sensation there. That is totally gone now.

 

The first few days were hard. I was glad to be in a hospital bed that raised with a button, so I could use the bed to help me sit up for breastfeeding. After I got home, sitting up was hard. It was helpful to have a heavy nightstand next to my bed that I could grab and use to pull myself up, rather than trying to sit up normally. Or having DH hold his arm out for me to pull up on.

 

They will tell you not to pic up anything heavier than your infant for 6 to 8 weeks, I cannot remember which, but I remember that it was close to the recommended time for me that I really felt OK to lift things.

 

I didn't have any other kids so I cannot comment on caring for a toddler, but I do think that if you can secure any extra help, I would recommend it.

 

 

post #3 of 50

My un-planned cesarean was 14 months ago and I honestly can't recall specifics you are looking for. I will tell you what I can remember.

 

I gave birth late at night on Wednesday and wasn't released from the hospital until Sunday afternoon. Two reasons, my c-section and DS had jaundice.

 

I only took the "strong pain-killer" the first night, cause that's what they gave me (I don't recall what it was). I didn't like it, it made me too sleepy. After that I only took Tylenol. I took the Tylenol constantly while in the hospital, once I got home I only took as-needed. I think I took it for a few weeks, one week for sure.

 

DH did take time off work, he was home the first 2 weeks with me (so awesome). I was home 8 weeks. We did something that I amaze myself I made it through fairly easily, but I would not recommend it to anyone. My DH works 24-hour shift and our first day home he went to work, because it was a holiday and wanted the extra money. My first 24-hours home, I was home alone. We lived in a 2nd story condo (stairs!) and had two dogs that needed to be walked 4-5 times a day. Some how I managed to do it with the baby.

 

I think I was able to do "easy"chores, ie wash dishes after a few weeks. Doing laundry, and cooking dinner - I did after a few weeks, but with caution. I didn't lift the basket of clothes, I would push it with my foot. And I would only do one load a day, not back-to-back loads. Vacuuming and lifting - I waited for the doctor's okay after 6 weeks.

 

DH has 2 older kids form a previous marriage, but they are only with us when he is home. So I didn't deal with taking care of other kids while I was recovering. I did have to care for and lift two 10-lbs dogs. Mostly cause of the dogs, I wish I had more help, but we didn't have family close by and I didn't feel I should ask friends to come help. If friends did come by, I always asked them to help me walk the dogs.

 

My advice would be not be afraid to ask for a helping hand if you need it. Most friends or family probably won't mind helping out with simple chores while you are recovering. I had one mommy friend bring us dinner and it was one of the best things some one did for us.

 

My scar feels numb, but it's healing nicely. I get a twing of pain internally from time to time.

 

Good luck! Hope all goes well for you.

 


Edited by MsDolphin - 11/18/11 at 1:19pm
post #4 of 50

I also had a long, exhausting, depleting labor prior to my c-section, and I can say that was definitely a factor in the length of my recovery. OP, if you can go into your c-section with lots of rest, I think that will make your recovery much easier!

 

Women have different experiences with pain meds and how long they want to take them. All I would say is, in my experience being in pain just slows things down. I tried to wean myself off the percoset several times and ended up in horrible pain and having to start taking it again. Looking back, I was probably on the really heavy meds for less than 2 weeks (it's all a blur now). But I was impatient to be off the meds and "back to normal" and ironically that impatience actually slowed my recovery.

 

If you can line up help and assume that you'll need a ton of support for the first 6 weeks, that is ideal. Realistically, you will probably feel much better much sooner than that. But keep taking it easy!

 

My partner did not have a lot of leave time & used most of it up while we were in the hospital (we weren't expecting to be at the hospital for almost 2 days before baby even arrived!). But she works from home so I was really alone during my maternity leave. I am so grateful that I wasn't...I really needed both physical & emotional support.

 

Good luck & let us know how it goes for you!

post #5 of 50

Ok, with my 2nd section, I had a scheduled repeat with a 4.5yo at home, so this should be fairly analogous for you. I am nearly 8 weeks out now, and from all the stories I've heard, my recovery was good, but not exceptional (I know people who drove faster, were off painkillers faster etc).

 

Logistics: My mom came and stayed for a week, then my DH took another week off. I would strongly recommend 2 weeks of coverage especially if your older one needs to be driven anywhere. I know people who have driven before 2 weeks. You might get lucky. I wouldn't want to count on it. If you drive a manual transmission, I would extend this even further as using a clutch places strain on the incision. (When I had my first in the UK, they told you 6 weeks no driving!)

 

Pain: I had Duramorph in my spinal (at my pre-op, they mentioned PCA, but the anesthesiologist preferred Duramorph). On top of that I had IV Toradol for a day or so. After that, Percs. I had my C on a Monday. I was just about done with the Percs by Friday. I needed to take one or two over the weekend because I pushed myself too far, and I took Advil through Monday. I highly recommend using an NSAID along with the Percocet. NSAIDs are more effective at treating muscular pain, ie, your uterus contracting down to size. You're allowed a max of 2 Percs every 4 hours. I found that one did not kill pain, but I tried to stretch it to 6 hours between doses, which I mostly did.

 

Function level: I had some mild postoperative complications (blood loss, low BP, low urine output) which delayed me getting out of bed. I was hobbling to the toilet on Tuesday. Wednesday, I was more comfortable: I had a shower, I put real pajamas on, I could get out of bed fairly easily to get things. Wednesday night/Thursday I felt good as long as I kept taking Percocet and Advil. I was sitting in the recliner in my hospital room, not the bed, and was able to read or use my iPad as well as watch mindless TV. (My DS went for phototherapy.) Thursday afternoon I got out of the hospital. I would have been fine had my mother and I not had a giant blowup, which sent me into a hormonal fit where I walked around the block for an hour. Don't do this.

 

After that I was fine as long as I didn't lift anything heavy. There were some cleaning tasks I could not do: I made DH bring laundry up and down the stairs for a few weeks, I couldn't scrub floors on my hands and knees, he had to lift heavy pots and change the bed. But I was definitely cooking, vacuuming, dusting, no problem. I baked a cake the day after I got home. 2 weeks out, my DH went back to work and I was driving my DD to preschool. Lifting the baby in his car seat was tough for another week or so, and long shopping trips were painful. I quit bleeding by 3.5 weeks out and felt fine by 4 or so. At 6 weeks, I got my PP checkup and was cleared.


Edited by AlexisT - 11/18/11 at 2:31pm
post #6 of 50

I had 5 vaginal deliveries then a c/s. mine was unplanned.

 

The first week I did very little. We moved 400 miles on day 7 postpartum and that was hard. I got tired easily. The second week I wasn't up and around much. Week 3 I was cooking. I also drove at 3.5 weeks because my baby had an emergent medical issue and needed to go to the doc, and nobody could help me. I also had my 4 and 20 month old children in addition to the baby and just making it from the parking lot to the hospital was physically hard.

 

Lifting my toddler, carrying the baby in a seat, etc was difficult for me. I was still in pain at 6 weeks. It took me about 8+ weeks to feel normal. I was still taking ibuprofen at that point. 

 

Im planning a repeat with this pregnancy and hope it goes more easily for sure.

post #7 of 50
A couple of quick things. First, ask for stitches and not staples for your incision. I'm so glad that I happened to read a study about it days before my surprise emergency section. Apparently it makes a big difference.
I didn't need any painkillers other than one dose of morpine for the car ride home but the anesthesia they give you actually works for longer than the actual surgery and I was "laddering" ibuprofen and acetaminophen. I had the section at 11 p.m. and was up showering at 9 a.m.
I felt totally back to normal at about six weeks but numbness around the incision lingered for months.
On the plus side, I didn't find that pain from the incision had an impact on breastfeeding. The biggest challenge was making sure my toddler didn't jump on me!
post #8 of 50

I've had 5 c-sections, three scheduled, "planned", and two emergent.  My recoveries have varied, but a few things have been typical of all of them.

 

First of all, I couldn't do much of anything for the first 4-5 days. I could walk slowly, get myself a drink or snack, feed the baby (I could change diapers, but standing that long in one place was close to the very edge of my abilities), but that was about it. So, any help you can get during that time is really important, imo...be it manpower, some meals in the freezer, or whatever. After my first, I went home, my ex went back to work (he was unemployed, we were flat broke, and he'd managed to get a couple of days of work, so he really couldn't take it off), and it was just me and ds1 for hours. At one point, I got stuck on the couch, and couldn't stand up when ds1 started crying to be fed (I'd put him down in the bassinet for a nap while I drank some water). I did eventually manage to stand up, but I've never forgotten how scary it was (ds1 is 19 in March!). For my next one, I was living with my mom and stepdad, and dh wasn't working yet. With my third, I was at my mom's until he was 10 days old, then we moved. That was a bit rocky, but ds1 was 12, and able to take dd1 to the playground and such to give me a break. Other than ds1, my biggest help that summer was actually the harness I used for dd1...I couldn't wear ds2 yet, so I'd put him in the stroller, put the harness on dd1, and go for a short walk. My fourth was kind of different (my son was stillborn, so I had no baby to look after, and dh was given two weeks off with pay to look after his family, including me, which got me over the first hump, physically). When dd2 came along, ds1 was 16, and he helped me out a lot, as her birthday was just before his summer break from high school.

 

I'm rambling, and not focusing on your questions. Sorry!

 

Basically, I'd say the first two weeks are the most crucial time, in terms of recovery. Don't push yourself to do more than you can (laundry, dishes, cooking, etc.). Cut yourself slack if you need to order in, or you/your partner end up fixing some processed meals or more sandwiches than you're really comfortable with, yk? It's really, really hard to be recovering from surgery while lookign after a newborn, let alone other kids. Keep to the absolutely necessary stuff. And, by all means, encourage people to help. Get a few meals in the freezer (whether you make them yourself or not).

 

The next four weeks (from 2 weeks to 6 weeks) are the danger period. You're quite likely to feel as though you're basically back to normal...but you aren't. I've hurt myself at least once in that period after every c-section, because I feel as though I'm more or less back to normal, but I'm still physically recovering. It's also really, really, really easy to misjudge my stamina, so i'll go to pick up a couple things at the grocery store, and then end up doing a biggish shopping trip, and be completely and utterly exhausted by the time I'm done. Try hard not to push too hard in that time, as it's very easy to get impatient, and you really will bounce back better if you don't overdo it.

 

I don't know if it's universal or not (but it was true for me, and, as far as I can recall, for every woman I've talked to about it who has had both), but I found that getting stitches instead of staples for the outer closure also made a significant difference in my recovery. I had both less pain, and more mobility, with the stitches than I ever had with staples. I really would have been much happier if I'd discovered that one sooner.

 

Everybody has a different experience with pain meds, I think. I prefer to use as few meds as possible, especially after the first day or two, because I'm far more likely to hurt myself if my pain is "managed". I tend to only take them to help me sleep for the first few days, and the first time I get out of bed and/or use the bathroom.

 

I also highly recommend drinking a lot of water after the surgery, and eating fruit - juicy fruit, by preference - as soon as you can. IME, it helps immensely with constipation, and being constipated with an abdominal incision is...not fun.

post #9 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Megan73 View Post

A couple of quick things. First, ask for stitches and not staples for your incision. I'm so glad that I happened to read a study about it days before my surprise emergency section. Apparently it makes a big difference.
 



orngbiggrin.gif

 

We cross-posted. I've had both, and if I'd only had staples, I wouldn't have had any idea how much difference it makes. It was huge! I mean...every person who had seen me in the days following my c-sections commented on how much more easily I was moving (this despite more extensive surgery - scar excision and a tubal, as well as the c-section) after the one with the stitches. I also ended up with an infected incision twice with staples (one of them was definitely caused by having staples, as a staple twisted, tore out and that part of the incision didn't heal promptly, then got infected). I only have the one experience with stitches to compare with, but I had no issues with the incision closure at all. And, I don't care either way, because I hate my scar, no matter what...but the scar after the stitches was less pronounced than any of my previous four.

post #10 of 50
How long did it take before you were able to do dishes, laundry, cook dinner, vacuum, bend over, etc?

I could do dishes at around two weeks. At three weeks we went out of town for a couple days with baby, and I did some walking around. (I had cabin fever.) I didn't bend or lift more than the baby until after six weeks, because I had a lot of pain on my right side. (The side the surgeon was on.) I was able to do some laundry at around 6 weeks, but it was hard because our washer was deep and narrow. I'd have to bend a lot just to get the clothes out.

How long did it take until you felt totally back to normal and could resume all activities? Probably closer to six-seven weeks. I did a nice mile or so walk with DD in her stroller at around six weeks, and ended up bleeding badly. I was clotting pretty badly and couldn't get up from the toilet for awhile. My doctor said that it was probably just a heavy first period, but I'm not sure what happened.


How long were you in pain for and how long did you need to take painkillers for? I was given Norco, and took it most of the time for the first two weeks. The next week I took it as needed. It was about three weeks total.

We lived in an apartment at the time, and I had to climb a steep set of stairs to get up and down. It was slow going, but I managed. My husband took off the first six weeks, and that was pretty helpful. He did a lot of the chores and took the dog out for walks. I won't have that option this time if I do end up with an RCS. It definitely helps to have someone that can do chores, help with pets, etc. Make sure it is someone you can tolerate, and that understands that baby really needs to be with mom and nursing if it isn't your spouse/partner.
post #11 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameragirl View Post

How long did it take before you were able to do dishes, laundry, cook dinner, vacuum, bend over, etc?
I could do dishes at around two weeks. At three weeks we went out of town for a couple days with baby, and I did some walking around. (I had cabin fever.) I didn't bend or lift more than the baby until after six weeks, because I had a lot of pain on my right side. (The side the surgeon was on.) I was able to do some laundry at around 6 weeks, but it was hard because our washer was deep and narrow. I'd have to bend a lot just to get the clothes out.
Oh, yeah - I forgot about that. I can't remember how long it took me to be able to do a full load of laundry. I could start one (by putting in a few items at a time) very early. I could definitely unload the dryer by six weeks out. But, I can't remember how long it took to be able to reach into the washer. I have to bend way over - if there's something on the far side of the cylinder, one of my feet leaves the floor - and I just couldn't put that much pressure on my abdomen.


 

Oh, OP - something else I want to mention. If your hospital is anything like mine, you're going to be pushed hard to use the football hold. If that doesn't work for you, don't give up. There are quite a few women it doens't work well for, and we still manage to get breastfeeding working out just fine! For some reason, a lot of nurses seem to think that the only possible way to breastfeed after a c-section is the football hold. So, if that doesn't work, it can be easy to feel as if it's just not going to happen at all.

 

post #12 of 50

I haven't had a C-section but I did just want to note really quickly that Percocet, as well as some other prescription painkillers, has Tylenol (acetaminophen) in it, and I saw posts upthread about mixing ibuprofen and acetaminophen, or Percocet and ibuprofen, both of which would be okay, but you have to be careful mixing some painkillers and Tylenol so as not to get too much Tylenol (adult max is 4000 mg/day). Check with your doctor or pharmacist if in doubt.

post #13 of 50

In Australia it is standard practice to offer regular (every 6 hours) NSAIDs and paracetamol starting as soon as the woman is able to eat and drink. The first dose is usually given PR in Theatre. Women who have this regime tend to have much better pain control and need significantly fewer narcotics. It varies from person to person but 5-7 days is pretty common for the regular 6 hourly doses. After that most women seem to be able to start reducing the frequency and/or stop the NSAID.

 

Another thing I found really useful was a bolster. It's something else we use really commonly for all types of abdominal surgery. Get a bath towel (a fairly thin one is best). FOld it in half longways. Then fold it into thirds or quarters (depending how long the towel is) in the other direction. You should have a square-ish shape. Using two long strips of masking tape, secure the towel without squashing it out of shape. Whenever you move, hold the bolster firmly against your incision with one (or both) hands. I used one for the first few days whenever I got out of bed, or stood up fro ma chair, even for walking for the first day or so. When I was in bed I just left it sitting on my tummy and it protected it a bit from little feet as well.

post #14 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post



orngbiggrin.gif

We cross-posted. I've had both, and if I'd only had staples, I wouldn't have had any idea how much difference it makes. It was huge! I mean...every person who had seen me in the days following my c-sections commented on how much more easily I was moving (this despite more extensive surgery - scar excision and a tubal, as well as the c-section) after the one with the stitches. I also ended up with an infected incision twice with staples (one of them was definitely caused by having staples, as a staple twisted, tore out and that part of the incision didn't heal promptly, then got infected). I only have the one experience with stitches to compare with, but I had no issues with the incision closure at all. And, I don't care either way, because I hate my scar, no matter what...but the scar after the stitches was less pronounced than any of my previous four.

I think your experience is born out by a recent study. Women with staples are FOUR TIMES more likely to have wound separation and the only benefit is the staples save the surgeon a measly eight minutes. eyesroll.gif
I asked the OB for sutures when I was on the operating table and she had no problem doing it but she'd never read the study (!!!) and was clearly humoring me. Can you believe it! This is a high-risk OB who sections women every day of the week. Unreal.

OP, here's the study: http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378%2810%2900895-1/abstract
If I were you I'd print it out and show it to your doctor - it could make a real difference to how quickly you're up and about.
post #15 of 50

I had external stitches with my first and internal with my 2nd. I asked my OB the 2nd time and told her I wanted stitches, and she said she only does staples in an emergency if the patient needs to be closed ASAP. She prefers stitches.

 

The internal stitches were amazing. The external ones healed ok in the end, but I had a separation.

 

I found that the issue with breastfeeding was not pressure on the incision, but limited mobility and issues with positioning. If you have a choice of hospitals, find out if the nurses all have up to date training on helping with nursing. They did at my 2nd and it was a big help--I was able to get baby latched every time. (They did suggest football hold, but that was after I struggled with cross cradle--I think they would have suggested it anyway.)

 

Oh, speaking of nurses... with a C, good nurses make a huge difference. Again, if you have a choice of hospital (might be too late for the OP but for anyone reading this later), ask about that. You'll be in the hospital longer and make more use of the nurses and LCs, so a CS mom's needs are a little different from someone who had an uncomplicated vaginal birth. I always sigh when I read hospital reviews where people rave about how nice the rooms were.

post #16 of 50

Has anyone had glue in their incision? I had glue and it was great! No stitches, no staples.

 

I think the hardest thing for me with my first c-section was how fast it was. I'm hoping they can slow things down this time.

post #17 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

The next four weeks (from 2 weeks to 6 weeks) are the danger period. You're quite likely to feel as though you're basically back to normal...but you aren't. I've hurt myself at least once in that period after every c-section, because I feel as though I'm more or less back to normal, but I'm still physically recovering. It's also really, really, really easy to misjudge my stamina, so i'll go to pick up a couple things at the grocery store, and then end up doing a biggish shopping trip, and be completely and utterly exhausted by the time I'm done. Try hard not to push too hard in that time, as it's very easy to get impatient, and you really will bounce back better if you don't overdo it.

 

So true! I had to slow myself down and just let things go (I'm a little OCD and the "messy" house made me crazy).

post #18 of 50

 

My DH was home with me for 3 weeks after my c/s. MIL stayed with us for a week and my parents who live locally also came by to help. If you have friends or family near by that are willing to help, let them. I only have one child so I'm not sure what it's like to try to take care of older children as well as a newborn, but I'm sure I would definitely need help.

 

I was prescribed Norco and took it pretty much on schedule for the first week and a half after returning home and then as needed after that. I slowly started doing little tasks around the house, but I think it wasn't until after my follow-up appt with my OB that I started settling back into my regular routine.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

The next four weeks (from 2 weeks to 6 weeks) are the danger period. You're quite likely to feel as though you're basically back to normal...but you aren't. I've hurt myself at least once in that period after every c-section, because I feel as though I'm more or less back to normal, but I'm still physically recovering. It's also really, really, really easy to misjudge my stamina, so i'll go to pick up a couple things at the grocery store, and then end up doing a biggish shopping trip, and be completely and utterly exhausted by the time I'm done. Try hard not to push too hard in that time, as it's very easy to get impatient, and you really will bounce back better if you don't overdo it.

 

 

This is totally me too. As soon as I started feeling a little better, I tried to do too much and ended up paying for it.

 

post #19 of 50

My section was almost 6 years ago, so some of the details are a bit fuzzy, but I wanted to try and add my 2 cents to the discussion, for what they are worth. :-)

 

 

 

 

I'm wondering.... How much time did your partner take off of work after your cesarean or how long did you have help from someone else?  Was it enough time?  Did you have older children to care for as well?

 

My xdh went back to work the day after we brought my daughter home; he was self-employed, we were broke at the time, not working was not an option. My mom worked full-time as well and couldn't take much time off, but she did take a few days off the first week to help me out. I was totally on my own, with after-work help from my mom, when I was five days to a week out. I had two older children; my daughter was almost 10 and in school full-time, my son was 5 and in preschool three hours a day. The 10 year-old was a HUGE help with the the 5 year-old, and having the 5 year-old him in preschool those few hours a day was a God-send. 

h

How long did it take before you were able to do dishes, laundry, cook dinner, vacuum, bend over, etc?

 

It took me a couple of days before I could stand up straight, a few more days before I could move normally. Getting to a sitting position from lying down was tough for a good couple of weeks, from what I remember, but once I was up, I was golden. I don't remember a lot of actual pain after the first few days, just crushing exhaustion if I tried to do too much. My mom went to Target when baby was just a couple of days out of the hospital, and I insisted on going with; by the time we were 10 minutes into the trip, I was ready to climb into the buggy and let my mom push me around the store, I felt like I'd been hit by a Mack truck, and it was like that until I was about six weeks postpartum. I could do things, by no means was I totally incapacitated,I just had to build in frequent rest periods. I hurt more after my VBAC, because I had stitches out the wazoo, but I had my energy back SOOOO much quicker than I did after my C-section.

 

How long did it take until you felt totally back to normal and could resume all activities?

 

About 8 weeks. 

 

How long were you in pain for and how long did you need to take painkillers for? 

 

Only in actual pain for 3-4 days, don't remember taking any real painkillers after I got out of the hospital, just Ibuprofen or Tylenol for a week or so. 

post #20 of 50

Had planned c/s on Thursday, home on Sunday.

Stopped all painkillers by day 5.

DH home for a week, then at work for a week, then home for another week- my mum helped a bit.

Cooking by day 10, cleaning by day 12, driving by 3 weeks.

BUT I didn't leave the house until my daughter was 16  days old.

 

If you can, order your weekly grocery shopping online and have it delivered. In our area they have to deliver to your kitchen, which meant no lugging bags or boxes up stairs.

 

I had spent 2 days before I went into hospital filling the freezer with homemade food to reheat- highly recommend doing that.

 

Teach DH to use the washing machine if he doesn't know already, and prompt him to put it on when the hamper is full!

 

The postnatal support here is so good- I had midwives calling daily for the first week ( and they took out my staples in my living room), then alternate days for the next two weeks, then the Health Visitor called a few times, I saw my OB week 4 and my GP week 6. That really helped.

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