C-section recovery: What to expect

Pregnancy and delivery cause major changes in your body. From abdominal pain to mood changes, here's what to expect during C-section recovery. By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're planning a Cesarean delivery or you want to be prepared in case you need to have a C-section, you might have questions about the recovery process. How much discomfort will you experience? How long will it take for your incision to heal? What breast-feeding positions might work best for you? Understand how to take care of yourself and your baby during C-section recovery.

Treat your C-section incision with care

It takes about four to six weeks for a C-section incision to heal. During the C-section recovery process, discomfort and fatigue are common. To promote healing:

  • Take it easy. Rest when possible. Try to keep everything that you and your baby might need within reach. For the first couple of weeks, avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby.
  • Support your abdomen. Use good posture when you stand and walk. Hold your abdomen near the incision during sudden movements, such as coughing, sneezing or laughing.
  • Take medication as needed. Your health care provider might recommend ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or other medications to relieve pain. Most pain relief medications are safe for breast-feeding women.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking lots of fluids can help replace those lost during delivery and breast-feeding, as well as help prevent constipation. Remember to empty your bladder frequently to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.

Look for signs of infection

Check your C-section incision for signs of infection. Contact your health care provider if:

  • The incision is red, swollen or leaking discharge
  • You have a fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C)
  • You experience increasing pain around your incision
Apr. 25, 2012 See more In-depth