Tips for healing after a cesarean delivery

After a Cesarean Birth

After a cesarean, the care you receive in the hospital will be a bit different. If you have questions, talk to your doctor or to the nurses. You may also find that you have feelings you did not expect. If you had been planning a vaginal birth, you may feel sad. Talk about how you feel with your partner, your doctor, your nurse, or someone you trust. Your feelings are normal.

Here are some tips for healing after a cesarean

Physical care

After this kind of birth, the incision (cut) will be painful, and it will hurt when you move. If you need pain medicine, your doctor will order it for you.

For the first 24 hours after the birth, you may have a needle in your arm and a tube that provides fluids. This is called an intravenous drip (or IV). It helps you get enough fluids. You may also have a tube in your bladder to let you pass urine (pee). The hospital will offer you food and drink. It’s good to eat if you feel hungry.

To make it easy to have a bowel movement after the operation, drink plenty of liquids (6 to 8 glasses a day) and walk as much as you can. Your doctor may suggest medicines such as a stool softener or mild laxative. When you have a bowel movement, support the place where you were cut with your hands while you bear down gently.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises are the first step to feeling better. Start them soon after the operation and continue for the next several days. This will keep your lungs clear and make your healing easy and faster.

When you do breathing exercises, support the place where you were cut with your hands or a pillow.

Here’s what you can do once an hour:

Take 2 or 3 slow, deep breaths. Feel your chest expand.

Huff. Huffing is like saying “ha” quickly. Open your mouth and relax your jaw. Tighten your abdomen and force the air from your lungs.

Caring for your incision (cut)

For 2 to 6 days, the cut or incision will be covered with a bandage. When you are in the hospital, your nurse will change the bandage and clean the cut. If it is healing well, most doctors suggest that you take a shower as soon as the bandage is gone. Ask your nurse if it is okay to shower.

Some stitches dissolve on their own. Others must be taken out by the doctor or nurse a few days after the operation. Some doctors use metal clips or staples to close the incision. These need to be taken out a few days after the operation.

The incision will be sore at first. As it heals, it may feel numb, itchy, tight, or tender. This is a normal part of healing.

Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to take care of your incision after you leave the hospital. In most cases, it will not need any special care after you go home.

When you are feeding your baby, place a pillow between your baby and the incision. You will both be more comfortable.


After a cesarean birth, your body must heal from both childbirth and an operation. Give yourself time to get your strength back.

Rest is an important part of feeling better. Try to rest when your baby sleeps. Accept help when people offer it. Limit visitors. Put a sign on the door of your house or apartment: “Mother and Baby Sleeping.”
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