I’m no stranger to c section recovery- the good, the bad, and the ugly. In my experience the first 48 hours post cesarean delivery are often the most intense and painful.
I shared in my c section recovery timeline that after both of my c sections my pain level peaked within the first 48 hours. Today I want to take a deep dive into the first 48 hours during your c section recovery.
I’m going to share with you exactly what you can expect and give you my secret tips for getting through the first 48 hours of your c section recovery.
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. During my first c section I was surprised by this- although it makes sense. They cut you open now they have to put you back together!
If you and the baby are doing well you will probably be able to hold baby on your chest while the surgeons close (which takes around 45 minutes in my experience).
And I have to say- the only thing that makes major abdominal surgery better is holding your snuggly newborn!
I did not get to hold baby until I was out of surgery during my first c section. But during my second c section I was given a tube top kind of shirt and as soon as baby was out they tucked him into my tube top on my chest. 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 right away just like if she would have if baby had been born vaginally.
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. Hopefully during this time you’ll be able to hold baby and maybe even help him latch for the first time!
From there 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 remove your cathedar.
In those early hours there will be a few crucial things that the nurses are watching for:
The nurses will want you to get up and walk ASAP!
I could probably write an entire article about this but walking sooner rather than later is important for a better recovery.
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.
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.
The nurses will monitor you for blood clots.
In the first 48 hours of c section recovery you will be given beautiful, hospital grade leg-squeezy things (I don’t know what they’re really called). These will periodically squeeze your legs to make sure blood if pumping as your epidural wears off.
The sooner you start walking on your own the sooner you can ditch the leg-squeezy things. My advice:
Pain Management in early c section recovery
In my experience, as I talk about in my c section recovery timeline, 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.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I went almost six hours between pain medication doses.
I had been receiving pain medication regularly every four hours. Then my nurses switched and the new nurse only wanted to issue meds if I asked first. But she didn’t tell me I had to ask. So I waited for her to bring the meds on schedule.
And when she didn’t I assumed there was some medical reason for that and I didn’t ask for meds.
Fast forward to me in intense pain, crying and yelling at my husband because I needed help and I was in pain.
He called in the nurse who immediately gave my pain medication but by then it was too late. I was no longer in front of my pain.
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.
Stay in front of your pain management in the first 48 hours of your c section recovery and it will pay off in dividends.
After my second cesarean childbirth I was almost completely weaned off of my pain medication by the time I left the hospital (about 72 hours post-surgery).
How did I do this?
I started walking as soon as I could, and I kept walking as much as I could stand. And I stayed in front of my pain management.
Doing those two things during the first 48 hour of my c section recovery completely improved my postpartum outcome!
Ok, there you have it! The nitty gritty of 48 hours post c section recovery! I hope this helps you and I pray your c section recovery be short!