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How Might I Feel After a Caesarean Section?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 22 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Caesarean Section Caesarean Labour

For the majority of women, having a baby via a caesarean section comes as unexpected development during labour, due to problems with the baby or complications with natural delivery. If this happens to you, how might you feel after a caesarean section?

A caesarean section is a form of surgery that’s used to deliver babies. Incisions are made in your uterus and abdomen and the baby is delivered by surgeons. Sometimes women choose to have caesareans – this is known as an elective caesarean – due to pre-existing medical conditions or known factors that could affect delivery of their baby. But in the majority of instances, caesarians are undertaken in emergency situations when you’ve already gone into labour.

There are various reasons why an emergency caesarean section may be required, including:

  • Placenta praevia, where the placenta is lying low and blocking the exit for the baby.
  • If the baby becomes distressed during birth.
  • If you have pre-eclampsia.
  • If you’re having twins or triplets, and one is in an awkward position.
  • If you become too exhausted in labour, for example if it goes on for ages.
  • If the size or shape of your pelvis is making birth difficult.
  • If your baby’s head is found to be too big to fit through your pelvis.

When the caesarean takes place, you’ll have either a local or general anaesthetic. You won’t see what’s going on – a screen is put up – and an incision is made just above your pubic hairline to help your baby out.

Recovering After a Caesarean

A caesarean section is essentially an operation so, like anyone who’s had surgery, you will feel tired and uncomfortable for a while afterwards. It also can take longer overall to recover from a caesarean, compared to a natural vaginal delivery.

Immediately afterwards, you’ll be given antibiotics, to help reduce the risk of an infection. You may well have had a catheter inserted to help you urinate, but this will be removed after a day or so. It’s normal to have a drip at first, which will be ensuring you get enough fluids to keep you properly hydrated and there may be a small drainage tube inserted near your wound to help collect blood.

Many caesarean stitches are now dissolvable, so you won’t need to worry about having them removed. The wound area can be painful immediately afterwards, so you may need painkillers to help relieve the pain.

Women who’ve had caesareans normally have to stay in hospital for three to four days, although if your recovery is going well, then you may be able to go home sooner. You’ll be encouraged to gently do small amounts of exercise – getting out of bed and walking is the start of it – and may feel uncomfortable at first. However, it’s important to move around, to help reduce the risk of a blood clot forming, so do persevere.

One of the main downsides of a caesarean section is it means you can’t lift anything heavy and have to be very careful with stretching for six week or more – and this includes any other children you may have. You won’t be able to do household chores and will need help looking after other children, plus you won’t be able to drive for up to six weeks either.

Emotional Feelings After a Caesarean Section

It’s normal to feel a bit emotional after giving birth and especially after having an unexpected caesarean section. You may well have been unprepared for this scenario and had high hopes of giving birth naturally, so it’s normal to feel a bit upset, shaken and down about not having the birth you wanted.

If you’re feeling really low and down, then do speak to someone about the thoughts going through your head – your midwife of health visitor is a good first port of call – as help is available.

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