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Cesarean section

What to expect after a cesarean section

For a woman who delivers her baby via a cesarean section (C-section), recovery will be different than if she had a vaginal delivery, says Beth Smathers, RN, a mother/baby nurse at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. A woman may need to undergo a C-section if her health or the health of her baby is at risk.

C-section recovery

Because a C-section is a major surgery, the recovery process is longer than recovery from a traditional vaginal delivery. Most women need about four to six weeks to recover. This recovery period requires:

  • Limited physical activity
  • Not driving for the first few weeks
  • Not lifting anything heavier than the baby
  • Special care of the incision site

Post-surgery medication side effect: Constipation

There may also be side effects from the medications taken after a C-section. Pain medication, for example, may cause constipation. To lessen the symptoms of constipation:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat more fiber
  • Take a stool softener

“To help with all the side effects from a C-section, it’s very important – as soon as you’re able – to get up and walk,” she says.

Moving will help with soreness and bowel function.

Post-surgery medication side effect: Gas buildup

Because it may be hard to move after a C-section, many women experience gas buildup.  

“Gas discomfort is almost as uncomfortable as the incision itself,” says Smathers.

Try her tips to ease gas-related pain:

  • Walk around as much as you safely can
  • Consume warm liquids at every meal

What to expect at the hospital

“When you come to the hospital to have a delivery, if you should have to have a C-section delivery, our staff is well-trained and well-prepared to help you have the safest delivery possible,” says Smathers.

For more information on childbirth at Piedmont, visit Piedmont Women’s Services

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.


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