C section recovery can be scary. In fact many women say they’re flat out scared of c section recovery. Why?
Because as human beings we fear the unknown. And unless you have had a c section before you probably have no clue what to expect.
But you know it’s going to hurt and you want to know how bad it’s going to hurt and for how long.
I’m no stranger to c section recovery- the good, the bad, and the ugly. (read more about my c section experiences by clicking here). In my experience the first 48 hours post cesarean delivery are often the most intense and painful.
This post will provide you with a deep dive into the first 48 hours of your c section recovery. Including:
- what to expect following surgery
- when your pain will likely peak
- and tips on handling it all
You’ll learn everything you need to know to make the first 48 hours of your c section recovery as smooth as possible.
I am not a doctor or a medical professional. I am a mom who has recovered successfully twice from a cesarean delivery. This advice is based solely on my personal experience after a c section and should not replace advice given to you by your doctor or care provider.
Finishing the Cesarean Delivery:
Once the baby is delivered you will remain in the operating room to finish surgery. Believe it or not, getting the baby out is the short part! The longer part of surgery is putting you all back together.
If you and the baby are doing well you will might be able to hold baby on your chest while the surgeons close (which takes around 45 minutes to an hour assuming everything goes okay).
If you think about it, the only thing that makes major abdominal surgery better is holding your snuggly newborn!
Be sure to ask your doctor and the hospital what their policy is about letting mom hold the baby immediately after delivery.
Times are changing and more and more hospitals are recognizing the value of a gentle c section. Which means they want moms to be able to hold baby as soon as possible.
Immediately following the cesarean delivery
Once your c section is finished the nurses will take you to a recovery room to be monitored. Doctors and nurses will check to make sure both you and baby are healthy and well.
At this point you will still be under the effects of the epidural/spinal block and likely won’t feel any pain (or at least not too much pain). Hopefully during this time you’ll be able to hold baby and maybe even help baby latch for the first time!
The first hour after birth is called the golden hour. It’s highly beneficial for both mom and baby to have skin-to-skin contact during this time. Be sure to ask your doctor what the hospital policy is on skin-to-skin with baby following your surgery.
Even if you can’t hold baby during the remainder of your procedure, you might be able to do skin-to-skin once you’re in the recovery room.
GETTING SETTLED FOR YOUR HOSPITAL STAY
From the recovery room you will move to your hospital room where you’ll stay for the next couple of days during your c section recovery.
As you’re getting settled your legs will start to tingle as the effect of the epidural begins to fade.. When you have enough feeling that you can stand and walk, the nurse will ideally be able to remove your catheter.
In the first 48 hours of your c section recovery the nurses and doctors will be checking for these crucial things:
The medical staff will want you to get up and walk ASAP!
There is a list a mile long of all the benefits of walking for c section moms. I even wrote an entire article about why walking sooner rather than later is important for a better recovery. (You can read that article by clicking here).
After my first c section I was terrified of the pain I might feel while walking so I avoided it as much as possible.
And I have a very difficult recovery.
But after my second c section I was up and walking about 5 or 6 hours after surgery and it made a HUGE difference.
When you do get up and start walking I highly recommend having some abdominal support. Your entire abdomen will be very tender, you might even find it difficult to stand up straight.
A postpartum support belt or c section underwear will provide much needed support so that you aren’t completely miserable while you’re walking.
Many women have said their hospital provided them a support belt. I prefer the c section and postpartum support products from UpSpring.
The c section recovery underwear made a BIG difference for me during my second c section recovery. It was the difference between dreading walking/being on my feet and feeling like 10 minutes on my feet was manageable.
And the Shrinxx postpartum wrap is perfect to throw on, take a lap around the hospital, and remove it as you crawl back into bed.
If you’re hoping to bounce back “quickly” (I use that term loosely) than walking is the best possible way to launch your c section recovery into hyper speed. Partner that with excellent abdominal support and you’ll be on your way to healing in no time.
Just remember to take it slow and don’t overdo it!
The incredible nursing staff will help you get up on your feet and might even walk with you the first couple of times.
The nurses will measure your urine output.
Yes, that’s right, they’re going to measure how much you pee. Honestly, I’m not a medical professional so I don’t know why this is important. But it is, and they will measure your initial urine output.
Which means you’ll have to pee in a weird little bowl they set in the toilet. Then let the nurses know once you’ve gone to the bathroom so they can check.
**note: This is only if you’ve already had your catheter removed. If you still have your catheter in they can check your urine output that way**
The nurses will monitor you for blood clots.
In the first 48 hours of c section recovery you will be given hospital grade leg-squeezy things to wear. (That is the official medical name for them, by the way….(j/k it’s not).
I don’t know what they’re really called, but they’re basically like blood pressure cuffs for your calves. It’s all the rage in hospital fashion this year.
The leg cuffs will periodically squeeze your legs to make sure your blood is pumping to your legs as your epidural wears off.
The cuffs will also help prevent blood clots, which can be a potential complication after major surgery.
The sooner you start walking and get the blood flowing on your own, the sooner you can ditch the fancy leg cuffs.
Pain Management in early c section recovery
For many women, the first 48 hours after c section recovery are the most difficult for pain management.
The epidural is wearing off, and you’re likely experiencing the most pain that you will experience in your recovery.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to be vocal with your caretakers about your pain. If you feel that you need more pain management speak up!
The nurses and doctors want to help you so that you can recover, but they can only help you if you advocate for yourself.
I cannot stress this enough: YOU MUST STAY IN FRONT OF YOUR PAIN!!!
What I mean by that is be sure your pain is under control. This is not the time to be a hero. Do not try to go longer between pain medication doses than absolutely necessary.
You are recovering from major abdominal surgery AND caring for a newborn.
Your body needs rest, and you’re already not getting a lot of that because of the baby. Which means the rest you do get needs to be good.
Your body needs rest in order to heal and provide plenty of milk for your baby. You’ll already be battling sleep deprivation as a new mom, be sure the rest you’re getting is high quality and as pain-free as possible.
Stay in front of your pain management in the first 48 hours of your c section recovery and it will pay off in dividends.
THERE’S NO NEED TO FEAR YOUR C SECTION RECOVERY
It’s completely understandable that you might be feeling scared of your c section recovery. That’s a common feeling for new moms. And rightfully so, a c section is major surgery and not an easy recovery.
But now that you know what to expect from the first 48 hours of your c section recovery – you’re ready to meet your baby for the first time!