7 Things Nobody Tells You About C-Sections

  • A cesarean birth experience is no time for surprises.
    Chances are you know someone who's had a cesarean section (C-section). You may have heard stories about what the experience was like. Your doctor may also give you an idea of what happens during a C-section—just in case it becomes necessary. Still, some key points often get left out. To avoid last-minute surprises, here are some important details you should know about C-sections.

  • woman in delivery room
    1. There will be tugging.
    During a C-section you will get medicine that blocks pain from your chest down. The doctor will give you this through an epidural or spinal block. You won't feel pain. But you will feel pressure. You also will feel tugging or pushing as the doctor delivers your baby.

  • Young African American woman drinking glass of water in house
    2. You may become constipated.
    You might have painful constipation and bloating after a C-section. That's because the pain medicine you take for a C-section can slow your digestion. To ease this, increase your fiber intake before delivery and while you are taking pain drugs after delivery. Try to drink 10 large glasses of water every day to ease constipation. Take gentle walks after a C-section to help reduce gas or bloating. If these steps don't help, ask your doctor whether you should take a stool softener.

  • Woman sleeping
    3. Plan for a longer recovery.
    A C-section is major surgery. Most women who have a C-section need more time to recover than women who deliver vaginally. They may be in more pain and stay in the hospital longer too. Once you are home, you may still need to avoid stairs and lifting. You also should not drive until your doctor says it’s safe. You’ll still be able to care for your baby. Just take it slow at first and ask your friends and family for help around the house. You’ll feel like yourself again before long.

  • Compression boots and socks
    4. You may need compression boots.
    Having a C-section nearly doubles your risk of developing blood clots. Clots usually develop in the lower leg veins. This causes pain and swelling. If a blood clots break free they can travel to the heart and lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing. To reduce the risk of blood clots, many hospitals use compression boots. The official name: sequential compression devices. You wear these boots before and during a C-section to improve blood flow and prevent blood clots from forming. You keep them on until you can walk after delivery or start to take blood-thinning drugs.

  • Sanitary Napkins
    5. You will still bleed.
    If you have a C-section, you will have vaginal bleeding after birth. That's because your uterus begins to shrink back to its normal size once your baby is born. This process causes bleeding to occur. The blood flow may be heavier during certain activities or when you change positions. Bleeding can last up to six weeks after delivery.

  • Mother breastfeeding baby a few months old
    6. Breastfeeding may be difficult.
    You can start breastfeeding as soon as you feel up to it. A C-section won’t affect your ability to produce breast milk. Still, it could make breastfeeding more challenging and delay bonding with your baby. The incision may make it hard to find a comfortable position to breastfeed. Ask for extra towels or pillows to help you position your baby. Also, some women are disappointed about not having a vaginal birth. Feeling sad and disappointed can hold back the flow of breast milk. If you have trouble with your emotions, don’t hesitate to ask your Ob/Gyn for help.

  • Doctor with couple in office
    7. Future pregnancies may be affected.
    Having a C-section delivery may mean you'll need a C-section for future deliveries. Having a C-section also increases your risk of some kinds of problems with future pregnancies. Women who deliver this way are more likely to have a pregnancy that occurs outside the uterus (an ectopic pregnancy). They are also more likely to experience problems with the placenta. It may grow too deeply into the uterus, block the cervix, or come apart from the uterus too soon. The scar in the muscular wall of the uterus from a prior C-section could also rupture or open during a future delivery.

  • Woman Drinking Coffee
    Take care of yourself to speed your recovery.
    Knowing what to expect from a C-section can make it easier to go through the process of having one. Although there will be obstacles, the most important thing to do is to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself includes sleeping as much as you can, eating right, drinking lots of water, and minimizing pain from surgery with your pain medicine. The better you care for yourself, the sooner you’ll be up to take a stroll down the street with your baby.

7 Things Nobody Tells You About Cesarean Birth | Recovery After C-Section
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  8. Is It Possible To Breastfeed After Cesarean Birth? La Leche League International. Oct 14 2007. http://www.llli.org/faq/cesarean.html
  9. Breastfeeding After Cesarean Delivery. American Academy of Pediatrics. May 11 2013. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Breastfeeding-After-Cesa...
  10. Cesarean Birth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. May 2011. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For_Patients/faq006.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140520T2321512053
  11. Placenta Accreta. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Jul 2012. http://www.acog.org/Resources_And_Publications/Committee_Opinions/Committee_on_Obstetric_Practice/Pl...
  12. Fertility Performance and Obstetric Outcomes Among Women With Previous Cesarean Scar Pregnancy. JUM September 1, 2011. http://www.jultrasoundmed.org/content/30/9/1179.full
  13. Cesarean section and placental disorders in subsequent pregnancies - a meta-analysis. J Perinat Med. Feb 24, 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566357

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 May 27
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.