Caring for your caesarean section stitches: Post-treatment recovery
If you have opted for a caesarean section to deliver your baby, here are some useful tips on the recovery and healing process
When you opt for a caesarean section, whether it is for personal reasons or due to a medical emergency, it is still considered a major surgery as you will be going under the knife to have your abdomen surgically cut open in order to deliver your baby from your uterus.
So special care is required post-surgery to ensure your healing process is on the right track and that you will be able to make a full recovery from your c-section procedure.
Caring for your wounds
Your newborn is probably your number one priority right now, but it is important that you remember to take care of yourself too.
Caesarean section wounds need special care and attention to make sure that it heals properly and there is no risk of infection.
So what should you do during your recovery period?
If you have a dressing (or bandage), you will have to change it everyday, or as soon as it gets soiled or wet.
You should always keep your c-section incision clean by washing it with warm water and mild soap daily.
Do not scrub the incision area, but instead lather up a washcloth or sponge with mild soap then squeeze it over the area and give it a rinse with warm water.
After bath time, always gently pat the incision area dry with a clean towel completely before getting dressed.
Avoid using any cosmetic oils, creams and lotions on the stitches or around the area as they may contain ingredients which can irritate the incision — get a specific scar gel instead to help treat the area.
Singapore’s hot and humid weather will probably make you sweat, so it’s a good idea to occasionally keep the incision uncovered and wear loose clothing so as to help the area to breathe.
There is no reason why you can’t almost immediately start breast-feeding your little one after undergoing a caesarean section, but to minimise any pain or discomfort, you should try different positions that work well for you and bub, such as:
- Football/ clutch/ rugby hold
- Side-lying hold
- Australian/ koala hold
- Laid-back hold
You can also place a small pillow on your abdomen before cradling your baby, so as to provide some extra cushioning over the area.
Your caesarean section procedure was an internal as well as external incision which you need to protect from tearing open during the healing process.
Remember to always support your incision when laughing, coughing, sneezing and when getting in and out of bed or standing up from a sitting position.
You can use a comfortable abdominal binder that can support your incision, compresses the abdominal tissues to minimise pain, reduce swelling and even help you get your pre-baby body back!
Swelling after your surgery should be gone after a day or two, but if there is some swelling around your caesarean section stitches, you can try applying an ice bag on the covered incision.
Applying a heating pad or a warm compress to your covered incision will also stimulate blood circulation which promotes healing.
Opt for loose fitting clothes, such as a flowy dress, sweat pants or an overzised t-shirt, because tight clothing can rub on the sensitive area which can cause irritation.
Once your incision starts to heal, you can start wearing your regular clothes again but it’s still recommended to have abdominal support and scar protection until you make a full recovery.
Is there anything you should look out for while healing from a caesarean section? Keep reading to find out.
Signs of infection
Your caesarean section incision will be slightly puffy and lighter or pinker than the rest of your skin at first and the pain should decrease after two or three days, but may still feel a bit tender for up to three weeks or possibly longer.
But there are some important signs for you to look out for which may indicate an infection and will require medical attention, including:
- Feeling of warmth, redness, swelling, or any oozing from the incision
- The pain is actually getting worse or you suddenly feel pain
- You have a fever
- There is foul smelling or abnormal vaginal discharge
- You feel pain or have a burning sensation when urinating
- The constant urge to pee frequently but not a lot comes out when you do
- Your urine is dark or bloody
- Any pain in one area of your leg, or one leg is more swollen than the other (which could be signs of a blood clot)
What to avoid
During your recovery process, there are a few things you should avoid doing in order to promote the healing process, such as:
- Sexual intercourse
- Using tampons or vaginal douches
- Swimming, soaking in a hot tub or bathtub or Jacuzzi (as bacteria can get in to your incision)
- Lifting or carrying anything that’s heavier than your baby
- Taking the stairs
- Vigorous exercise
Take it easy
Different women will heal at different rates and although it can be frustrating to be so limited by all the do’s and don’ts during recovery, you should also remember to take care of yourself.
It is normal to feel any discomfort and fatigued, so you should just take it easy and get as much rest as possible.
Ask your doctor for some medication to help relieve pain which is safe for breast-feeding mums.
Don’t feel shy to ask your partner or family for help with the baby or around the house because you definitely deserve some TLC too!