c-section recovery stories/tips?

Hi everyone,

So I had an emergency c-section on Saturday and I think I am doing okay with my recovery but I feel like I have questions regarding what's normal...so I turn to WB! I would love it if people could share their recovery stories and maybe even some tips for how to get through the first few weeks (to make things more comfortable).

A couple of things in particular I am wondering about (but feel free to post about other things)...my back has been quite sore since and I am not sure it's getting better. It's my middle to upper back that hurts and it's been this way since I was in the hospital. I am also wondering about my weird looking belly. I have this gross looking belly that sort of hangs over the incision. Normal, or am I a weirdo? Also, I wasn't expecting to go back to my pre-pregnancy shape (which wasn't exactly skinny) right away but I also wasn't expecting to still look about 20 weeks pregnant. How long does this last? And, what about swelling? I had a lot during pregnancy...it got worse afterwards (partially due to the crazy amount of fluids they had in my IV, I suspect). How long will it take for this to go away??

Thanks in advance for any tips you may have...and for sharing your stories. I'd love to know if what I am experiencing is normal and also what might be coming my way!

 11 Aug 2011 6:46 PM
 24 Oct 2008
I also had an emergency c-section.

The belly hanging over the incision is definitely normal. I can't remember when it actually went away but it does. The swelling was horrible too, all the pictures of me from the first week I look huge and swollen. I think the swelling started going down in the second week. I still don't have my pre-pregnancy body yet, but getting there.

I didn't have any back pain, but my first thought goes to could it be near your epidural or spinal location and related to that?

What I can say is definitely take it easy to start off with, you had major surgery. I tried to do too much too soon, and definitely felt it! Congratulations!

 11 Aug 2011 6:47 PM
 9 Sep 2009
 Calgary, AB
I had an unexpected c-section as well a couple weeks ago.

Sore back: yes, definitely. I found this persisted until about the time my staples came out. It was compounded by the fact that it was hard for me to stand completely upright, and that I wasn't walking too much. Also, my posture while nursing is horrendous. I do find it's better now though. I found the best way was to lean back over some pillows on the couch to give a good counter stretch without stretching my abs too much.

Belly: mine is still pretty icky. I have definitely dropped down in size (I think I looked pregnant up until about 8 or 9 days after surgery?) but I have a lot of flabbiness and stretchmarks. There is an obvious "ridge" still, but it is much less dramatic than I thought it would be at first. I gained a lot of weight (about 50 lbs) during my pregnancy, and I have come down about 30 lbs in 2 weeks. It's slowly getting back to something resembling "normal".

Swelling: This was probably the worst thing for me. My feet were massive during pregnancy and actually got even worse (didn't think it was possible) after the surgery. It lasted until about a couple of days ago, and now my feet are back to normal and shoes fit again.

I am 2 weeks past surgery and am feeling pretty good. My endurance is still rather small, but I don't really take any pain meds and can walk pretty far distances as long as I am not carrying anything but my purse. DH wears the baby when we go out for now. My incision was soooo swollen and about a week after surgery it started to leak a TON of fluid (looked like watered down blood). I was freaked out, but it turns out it was just collected fluid from the surgery that needed to drain. That lasted about 5 days or so, and now my incision is no longer so swollen, and it is healing really well (knock on wood). I find it a bit painful above the incision on the inside, which is where I assume my internal stitches are. It's right in the indented area, so it's a bit annoying to find pants that don't aggravate it, so I am usually in yoga pants or maternity pants still. frown

Hang in there! It does get better. smile

 11 Aug 2011 8:39 PM
 11 Mar 2009
 the Centre of the Universe
back pain: yep, as well as around the sides. it's likely your muscles overcompensating for your abs. you probably don't have the best posture now, right?

gross looking belly: ah yes, the dreaded overhang. I've still got mine. no idea when it goes away. I guess when the extra fat is gone and the skin shrinks back?

20 weeks pregnant: your abs have just been sliced right through, you can't expect to have a flat tummy yet! once you've got the all clear to work out, you can start doing ab work, and it will go away.

fluids: I was so swollen I had to walk out of the hospital with no shoes on, and the clothes I wore in were too small frown it took over a week after we got home to go away. drink plenty of fluids, and watch your salt intake.

my advice: get some control top undies or nylons. they'll give you support and make you feel better about your tummy as it heals smile

ETA: what's coming...a weird burny tingly sensation on your skin below the incision. feels almost raw. it's your nerves regenerating. don't worry.

 11 Aug 2011 10:55 PM
 2 Sep 2005
 Edmonton, Alberta
Congratulations on the birth of your baby! smile

My BEST advice is to do as little as possible for the first 2-3 weeks. Do not clean your house, cook, go up and down stairs a lot. But do walk a tiny bit so you don't get a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis. I recovered VERY well from my c-section, and my recovery is directly linked to having people around me doing everything. It sucked. I made the mistake at 12 days post-partum in carrying a load of laundry up 2 flights of stairs. I was in awful pain that night. Lesson learned. Don't do anything for the first few weeks! Only carry your baby-that's it. Keep on top of your pain meds too!

For my next c-section, I plan on wearing a belly support/abdominal binder afterward. I used a pillow held against my belly every time I laughed or cried. It just helped to have support. I have already purchased one for next time. Get your doctor's ok before wearing one, though.

I had an emergency c-section a month before my due date. I was pumped full of fluids via IV as well, and it took a long time for the swelling to go away. However, I had pre-eclampsia, and that's why I had to deliver early. The pre-eclampsia caused the majority of my swelling post-partum, and by the 6-week mark, I had lost 30 lbs. of water retention. I could finally wear shoes again and get my rings on. My swelling situation wasn't normal, though!

I hate to mention this, but the belly over-hang (or apron, as c-section moms call it) doesn't always go away. I am now 5-months post-partum, and my gross belly hang is still there. I have tried everything. I now wear Reitmans comfort fit jeans (no zipper or buttons) and 'tuck' my flabby belly inside. Ewww. I have lost all my pregnancy weight, and I look the same I did before pregnancy...except that my stomach is hanging down. I've just accepted it.

Ok, I'll tell you my story about back pain after a c-section, but I don't want you to freak out. I'm just getting this out there in case someone else is reading this and going through the same thing. The pain you are experiencing in your back is exactly what I have. However, my pain set in about 3 months post-partum (not right away like yours). Mine is caused by the spinal block I had. It's so bad that I constantly visit the massage therapist and chiropractor for relief. I also can't sleep more than 3 hours at night without the back pain becoming soooo unbearable that I have to get up and walk it off. It's the most awful thing I've had to deal with. Nevermind the belly or the scar or anything else-the back pain is the worst for me. HOWEVER, I am sure this is rare and that your pain will go away soon!

As for pre-pregnancy shape, my uterus took about 9 weeks to go down! They say it should return to normal size by week 6, but even my doctor commented at my 6-week check-up that it still had not gone down. This can happen after a c-section. I was told that it can take up to 12 weeks for some women!

I felt pretty good by the 3-week mark! I felt like myself, but I still couldn't do much. By the 5-week mark, I still couldn't lift the carseat with my son in it. But my week 6, everything was great! I could lift the carseat, drive, and have sex wink However, I will warn you, many women say that sex after a c-section is very painful the first few times. I was unfortunately one of those woman, but it does get better!

Good luck!

 11 Aug 2011 10:55 PM
 22 Jun 2006
I had an emerg c/s as well. They say those ones are so quick it's harder to recuperate when compared to a 'regular' c/s.

I still have the overhang, and can't seem to lose the last 22 lbs. I lost 20 within the first month, but had a lot of stress/poor diet as well at the time. None of my undies fit properly - they all dig in at the incision site.

I had issues with my incision healing - I had oozing and gross stuff up to about 7w pp. It started 10d pp.

Be prepared for a lot of itching.

DS is 4mo tomorrow, and I still get some twitchy pains now and then.

 11 Aug 2011 11:59 PM
 30 Dec 2009
Another emergency c-section victim here wink

I had crazy swelling. I had to get Size 13 socks! *shutter* But it went away before DS was 2 weeks old (I don't remember exactly, I just know it was gone when we left the hospital)

My belly situation- just like dreamer said. It's kinda gross, I am learning to live with it. It does shrink from that 20 week pregnancy look though smile

As for my incision, I actually went looking for it today. It's is so light you have to look for it. I stood in the mirror and I couldn't see it.

My biggest piece of advice: Don't push it AT ALL. I follow the doctor's direction to a T and I had zero recovery issues. I didn't even go for a post-op visit to the surgeon because I was doing so well. (I went to my GP instead b/c he had shorter wait time)In the first 8 weeks I never: lifted the car seat, carried laundry, pushed or pulled anything.

 12 Aug 2011 12:40 AM
 27 Apr 2006
Raving Lunatic
The back pain is usually due to the lack of stomach muscles. As a result, your back is over compensating. I found that I needed to see a chiropractor, and I needed to do 6 weeks of pilates (after 8 weeks) to rehab my core. Last time was an emergency c-section. This time, my back pain is back earlier and I'm already seeing my chiro. It sucks, but it does go away eventually. Use hot/cold packs (whichever works for you, hot is all that works for me), take you drugs and relax.

Swelling- 10-14 days to go down. Yes it gets worse, but as long as you stay off your feet except for occasionally walking (to avoid clots etc.) it will go away pretty quickly.

Belly overhang- It can go away, but I think for most people it doesn't. I found mine took a year to go away and I had to get below my pre-pregnancy weight plus I worked out A LOT.

"Pregnant belly" - depending on your weight loss, you will stop looking pregnant some time after 6 weeks. For me last time, it took about 3 months. I still had 15 lbs to lose, but I didn't look pregnant any more, just fat.

 12 Aug 2011 3:08 AM
 20 Jul 2005
WB Chatterbox
I had c-section as well. And most of what other posters says apply to me as well.
I had crazy swelling (also due to pre-eclampsia) and also swelling a lot because of the IV fluid. The swelling from IV fluid (on the arms) mostly went away in the first few days. The swelling on my feet didn't go completely until first month.

Hanging belly: yes I still have that after 3 months. But I had big tummy before, so now it just likes hanging there. It totally covered up my incision...I don't think I can ever lose it...As of 3rd month, I don't look like pregnant any more but my pants are still tight. I'm not yet going back to my pre-pregnant pants size.

Weight: I gained 40 lb and 20 lb goes away in the first 2 weeks. I haven't started work out yet I'll do that after 4 or 5 months. I want to wait for uterus to heal/strink more before I start my cardio exercise.

Healing: First 2 days were the worst. By first week it's already much better and I took less of my pain med. By 2nd week I get rid of all pain med and it doesn't hurt at all. I feel a bit itchy afterwards, though. I was told that at both ends of the incision the knot irritates the skin a bit (I had the dissolvable thread). And of course, I don't do heavy lifting...I think it's not good for my healing...

 14 Aug 2011 11:17 AM
 14 May 2007
I know its been a few days since I posted (sleep deprivation tends to keep me from WB) but I wanted to come back and thank everyone for their responses. It helps to know that what I am experiencing is normal.

Stephay My midwife thought the same thing about the back pain so she checked the location of the epidural/spinal and its lower than the pain. The good news is, the back pain seems to be getting a bit better so I guess I just have to be patient. My mom also brought over one of those chair massagers and it seems to help a fair bit so Ive been using that every day.

Raisin I gained close to 50 pounds too (I know a lot of this was water weight since I had so much swelling towards the end). I have been weighing myself every day since Ive been home and Ive now lost 30 pounds which is awesome. My swelling is much better, except in my feet. I look forward to wearing socks and normal shoes too! My belly is getting much smaller now but I also have lots of flab and stretch marks boo!

A&A Its funny that you mention a tummy tuck...I think I can now see why people would get one too. When I was in surgery, one of the doctors asked me if a c-section was the only surgery I was having...I thought it was a weird question but then I wondered if they ask that because some people do get tummy tucks at the same time??

Siorhona I wore flip flops to the hospital and was able to wear them home too. I could barely fit into the maternity pants I brought w/ me though since my legs were so swollen. As I said above, thankfully, its much better now. I am so glad you posted about the burning tingly sensation since I started feeling that a few days ago, to the right of the incision. I assume its the same thing that you described.

Raynn It makes me sad to know that the overhang might not go away. At the same time, I think its good to know in advance that this is a possibility.

Dreamer Thanks for the tip regarding the pillow that helps. I havent really done anything around the house since Ive been home (DH has been taking care of all of that) but we have been going for walks when I feel up to it. Yikes, to your back pain...that sounds awful! I think mine is slowly getting better, thankfully.

Rizzo I bought granny panties in preparation for a vaginal birth in a bigger size than what I normally wear and those dug into my tummy so much that it made things uncomfortable. I ended up getting even bigger ones the day I came home from the hospital and they felt much better. I hope I can gradually get back into my regular ones once I am healed. Not looking forward to the itching but good to know in advance that it will happen.

Aquax Not pushing myself sounds like good advice! I think I need to be reminded of this as Im starting to feel better and, therefore, feel like I should be able to do some of the things I did pre-baby.

Teacher Thanks for sharing your experiences! I didnt do a ton of exercising during pregnancy so I imagine I will still have several pounds to lose even once I no longer look pregnant.

Fibbi Hmmm...sounds like I might have to do some shopping if I want to stop wearing maternity clothes (since I am positive I wont fit into my pre-pregnancy stuff either).

I have a new question for everyone did any of you experience nausea/vomiting afterwards? I find that my appetite isnt nearly what it used to be and I sometimes feel sick during the day (I suspect part of this may be because I am overtired). However, Ive also thrown up twice late at night (last night and the night before). Just wondering if this could be related to the c-section at all?!

 14 Aug 2011 2:31 PM
 13 Sep 2006
I didn't realize you had to have a csection too!

I am a little over 3 weeks past surgery:
Back pain - omg it was so intense I'd nearly cry! It's been better and actually completely gone for over a week at least now, maybe closer to 2?

Swelling - it was not bad and then at 4dpb (days past birth) it was horrible! It's been completely gone since a little over a week past having him.

Stomach - mine has gotten way way better. At first I looked 7 months pregnant (compared to the 20 months I looked before...I was huuuge!) and at Bout 2 weeks after I barely looked pregnant at all (maybe 12w?) and I'd say now I don't look pregnant at all in clothes. My stomach had a hard part on top, which apparently is my stomach muscles that may or may not go back down, it's from how huge I got and isn't related to the section. I still have a small overhang, but I think I always will from the extra skin (I have SO many stretch marks)

Weight - I had lost only 10 lbs once I got home which was disappointing since Jack was nearly 10lbs! But the weight fell off over the next week and I am
now down almost 40 lbs, which is almost 20 lbs less than when I got pregnant. It seems to still be going down, I assume from breastfeeding. I had insulin resistant GD and was heavier to start, I think this is why I lost weight while pregnant.

Hope I covered everything! Let me know if I missed anything!

 14 Aug 2011 4:16 PM
 14 May 2007
Yep, I did...for a couple of reasons - one was because I developed a fever during labour which they feared was an infection in my uterus (and it was) and the other was because of the baby's non-reassuring heart rate.

It's funny that you mention that you only lost 10 pounds when you got home. S was 9.5 pounds and I only lost 9 pounds when I first got home too...I was so disappointed at first but that has quickly gone away as I've now lost 21 more pounds since then (obviously fluid).

Thanks for sharing your story as well...it helps to hear other people's experiences.

 14 Aug 2011 4:17 PM
 12 Sep 2007
 Winnipeg, Manitoba
WB Postaholic
I had an unplanned c-section not emergency. But circumstances led to it being under general anesthesia. So recovery did take a while. I spent the first 6 days recovering in hospital so I really can't imagine what it would have been like at home.

I too have lost all pregnancy weight but have the overhang at 6 months PP. Not terrible but not great.

Swelling- Had a bit. But it disappeared by the time I left the hospital.

Back pain- None despite the fact I had 2 epidural attempts and 2 topups.

My best advice like some PP's would be don't push yourself too hard. You are recovering from major surgery.

 14 Aug 2011 5:36 PM
 15 Oct 2009
Ahhhhhhhhh the over hang belly. I honestly wish they would tell people about this before they left the hospital!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every single one of my girlfriends have had this happen to them (regardless of size) when they had c/s.

It will go away!

My over hang was gone by my six week check up but my belly was still really giggly. I blame that though on the enormous amount of weight I gained while pregnant. I am currently 10 pounds heavier than I was pre-pregnancy (so I am not a wee tiny person) and I have no over hang of skin by the scar whats so ever. Lol, my abs could look better but I am lazy. I know it is shocking and depressing to look at now but try not to worry. You just had a double whammy of being pregnant and having major surgery, it will take a while for your poor body to reset but it will get there.

 14 Aug 2011 7:39 PM
 15 Oct 2004
Before my c-section, my friend told me the first 7-10 days of recovery were the worst and she was right - I started to feel like I turned a corner after that.

You've gotten a lot of good tips here! I would add USE YOUR ARMS to get in and out of bed and chairs, and to go from lying down to sitting. I strained my abs at around 4 weeks and it felt like such a set-back. It was a while before I could get up while holding dd in both arms - so take the help that is offered to you.

I also really took it easy on things like driving and stairs for the first three weeks, which I think helped, but I did start getting out for (short, slow) walks (not holding the baby) after 9 days, which made me feel a bit more sane!

 15 Aug 2011 3:40 AM
 1 Dec 2004
My back hurt really bad after my c-section. It got better within 5 days but I did have to take some pain meds to get through the pain as it really hurt when I tried to bf.

The belly thing is normal and does go away once you start moving around.

 15 Aug 2011 9:29 AM
 15 Oct 2007
 Ottawa ON
WB Devotee
I didn't read all the previous posts as some were quite long, so I apologize if there is duplication...

I had lots of pain in my back, but it was from all the air/gas that was still trapped in my system. The pain kept me up at night and made me incredibly uncomfortable for almost a week.

My best piece of advice is not necessarily to push yourself, but don't just sit/lay there dormant for weeks. I went for walks around the neighbourhood every day. I was very slow, and sometimes I didn't go all that far, but it really helps to get the additional air out of your body which lessens the back/shoulder pains.

I did a lot which I shouldn't have, but I have a hard time sitting still. I personally think that being active (in reasonable doses!) definitely helped with my recovery. I felt great by week 2!

I lost all my preggo weight in a month, and unfortunately this may have contributed to me developing gall stones (surgeon said this is usually brought on with rapid weight gain and loss), and eventually surgery to remove my gall bladder.

I still have a ponch that hangs over my incision, but I'm also not thin either...I felt really gross about the huge flab at the beginning, but you get over it eventually.

The main thing that bothered me was the numb feeling around the incision, as it last for a long time. I only really started getting feeling back in that area 2 months ago (8 months pp)..

Good luck! It sucks now, but I promise you will feel better!

 16 Aug 2011 12:15 AM
 6 Jan 2010
My sister had a c section 6 days ago. She has been doing fine, I don't even think she used any pain meds after leaving the hospital.
Today she lifted the baby though and she thought she felt a pop. Then she noticed a little pus. Is this normal??!

 16 Aug 2011 12:25 PM
 25 Nov 2005
 Thornhill, Ontario
WB Devotee
Clean the wound gently, and let it dry. Get her to lie down and someone can take a blow dryer and help her gently dry the area. Just get her to lie there for a bit.

Clean and dry = good.

If she was instructed to put on polysporin and gauze, do that after she gives it a chance to 'breathe'

 16 Aug 2011 9:13 PM
 13 Sep 2006
I don't think I ever had any fluids come out, unless they did at the hospital and I didn't notice?

This reminds me I forgot to comment on pain, mine was really not too bad. I often skipped or delayed my pain meds at the hospital and completely stopped taking them once we left. Of course I still had some pain, but it wasn't anything too bad.

 17 Aug 2011 9:34 AM
 22 Jun 2006
Mine had some oozing; I'd have her go to her OB's and have it cleaned out, she might have a subcutaneous infection like me. I eventually needed antibiotics but eventually cleared.

 31 Oct 2012 11:59 PM
 30 Apr 2012
New Member

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