Mom's Health: After a C-Section

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What to Expect After a C-section.

A C-section is a major abdominal surgery — with the bonus of a beautiful new baby to show for it. You’ll have many of the same feelings and physical changes as any new mom, and some that are unique to the C-section experience.

In the Hospital

Most moms who’ve had a C-section will stay in the hospital for about three days. Nurses will help you rest and recover, and encourage you to move around and go for short walks. You’ll have your baby with you, too, and it’s a good idea to get help with breastfeeding (if you need it) to find a position that doesn’t hurt your incision site. Just before you’re discharged, your doctor will remove the staples in your incision site and tell you how to care for it at home.

Your Incision Site

You’ll have strips of tape over your incision site. Leave them on for a week or until they fall off on their own. Keep the area clean — soap and water are all you need — and dry it off afterward. You can cover it with clean gauze if it’s weepy or rubs against your clothing. Your incision site might feel itchy as it heals.

The scar from your C-section will be about four to six inches long, and will gradually get lighter and thinner. It will be so low on your abdomen that it will probably be covered when you’re wearing underwear or a bikini bottom.


You’ll need at least six weeks of taking it easy to heal from your C-section. Early on, you shouldn’t drive a car or lift anything heavier than your baby. Light walking is a good idea — it gets your blood flowing, which speeds healing and helps prevent constipation and blood clots.

Physical Changes

Whether you gave birth vaginally or through a C-section, you’ll still have lochia, the vaginal discharge that starts out red and gradually lessens and lightens to pinkish and whitish over the next few weeks. You may also experience engorged breasts, constipation, the “baby blues,” fatigue, hair loss, and dry skin.

Emotional Changes

Having a C-section means different things to different moms. Some feel angry or disappointed that they didn’t have the vaginal birth they had hoped for, or they feel as if they’ve somehow failed. Others feel indifferent, or happy that they didn’t have to endure a vaginal delivery, or relieved that their baby was born safely despite a complicated pregnancy or labor.

If you’re struggling with negative feelings about your C-section, it can be helpful to talk with others in a supportive environment. You may even want to have your provider review the decision with you. Many moms — no matter how they give birth — find that their actual birth experience is different from how they’d imagined it would be.