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How Do I Care for a C-Section Incision?

Getting plenty of rest and laying down is important after a c-section.
An ice pack, which can help with swelling around a c-section incision.
Article Details
  • Written By: Kaitlyn N. Watkins
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
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Bringing home a new baby can be physically challenging, especially for mothers who have undergone a Caesarean section at delivery. Besides dealing with a lack of sleep, fluctuating hormones, and other post-delivery issues, mothers need to pay special attention to and care for a C-section incision to prevent infection and possible tearing. By ensuring that the area is kept clean and is unencumbered by tight-fitting clothing, as well as frequently observing the area for changes, a new mother can be sure that her incision will heal properly.

Immediately after a C-section, the hospital staff will apply a sterile pad to the area, protecting it from contamination and soaking up any excess fluid. After a day or two, it will be time to take a shower. Extra care must be taken when washing the incision. Instead of scrubbing it, gently squeeze out a washcloth or loofah on the belly above the incision so the soap and water will trickle down over the incision. Be sure to use an unperfumed soap and pat the area dry lightly. Repeat this every time you shower until a healthcare professional authorizes you to bathe.

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Most underwear elastic bands tend to hit the body right where the C-section incision is located, so it is a good idea to wear oversized underwear or boxer shorts until the scar is healed. Loose-fitting pants are also important, because any pulling or tugging at the skin can cause the incision to pull open, as well as causing unnecessary discomfort. Use an ice pack on area every three hours for the first day or two to reduce swelling, but if swelling continues for several days, contact a medical professional to check for infection.

Other signs to look for include excessive redness, puffiness, bleeding, or discharge at the incision site. Also check for unusual warmth around the area or a fever, as these may be signs of infection. Check the incision site regularly for any unusual signs, since early treatment is the best way to prevent further complications.

Resting is an important aspect of caring for a C-section incision. There are actually two incisions — the one in the skin and an internal one in the uterus. Getting plenty of rest and lying down as much as possible will help heal both of these wounds. Avoid walking up and down stairs and do not lift heavy objects, as these may put strain on the sites.

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Discuss this Article

Mykol
Post 4

After 15 hours of labor, I ended up having a C-section when I had my son. Between the labor and C-section procedure I was pretty wiped out when it was all over.

You will have your C-section scar the rest of your life, but it is a small price to pay for a beautiful, healthy baby.

The only advantage to my scar is that they did a bikini cut incision so it is horizontal and is down pretty low on my abdomen.

I ended up having an emergency appendectomy a few years later, so now have more than one scar on my stomach.

Even though my incision is not real noticeable I get a lot of scar tissue when I have an incision like that, so mine sticks out more than some would.

It took quite a while for that incision to heal and was tender for a long time. If you know you are going to be having a C-section, take advantage of any extra help you can get because a cesarean recovery does take awhile.

myharley
Post 3

I had to have a C-section for both of my births, so don't have anything else to compare it to. It really is like having a major surgery though and you need to give yourself time to recover.

This was much easier with the first one than the second one because I didn't have any other kids to take care of. Thank goodness for my mom who came to help out for awhile.

I was in the hospital for a week after my first C-section and I was thankful for this time to recover and get my strength. Even though I was anxious to get home with my baby, it took me longer to get back on my feet than I thought it would.

Even after doing everything I was supposed to do, I got an infected C-section incision and this made my recovery time even longer.

I knew more what to expect the second time around, and it seemed to go a little bit smoother.

dfoster85
Post 2

@ElizaBennett - Those are really good tips! My C-section was unplanned (but not an emergency) and I wish I had planned better for the possibility.

They kept telling me that "a C-section is major surgery"; I guess it involves a bigger incision than something like an appendectomy.

A tip I got in the hospital was to hold a pillow or folded towel over my incision for the first few days whenever I tried to get up. This kept the stitches from pulling or the incision from bleeding and also reduced the pain.

I was really glad that I had already laid in some "granny panties" to wear after delivery. Everyone should; you'll be wearing giant pads for at least a week or two regardless of how the baby comes out. If you don't have them at the hospital, though, not to worry; those mesh panties they give you are pretty great! It was a few days before I could even get my granny panties on.

ElizaBennett
Post 1

Make sure to listen to your doctor's instructions about your C section recovery. Not all sections are the same!

If you had an emergency or "stat" C section (often under general anesthesia, unless you had already had an epidural), you may have a vertical incision. Even if your external incision is a low transverse or "bikini" cut, you could have a vertical uterine incision; your doctor will tell you if this is the case and the recovery may be a little longer.

My doctor said that I could go up and down the stairs once per day; that is, I could walk down in the morning and back up at night. But my surgery, which was planned (due to complete placenta previa), went very smoothly, and you might have to be more cautious if you had any complications.

My doctor told me to clean the area with hydrogen peroxide and then to put Neosporin on it, but yours might have a different recommendation.

If you are getting ready to have a baby, keep in mind the possibility that you will have a C-section. You might want to bring a loose-fitting dress to the hospital with you; a friend of mine had to go home in a nightgown and sweatpants because she couldn't wear her low-cut pants! You will not be able to drive for at least ten days and more likely two weeks, so make sure that someone will be available to care for you.

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