According to USA Today, cesarean sections account for 34 percent of American births. Although C-sections are common, they still constitute major abdominal surgery with substantial recovery time. For new moms eager to bond and care for their babies, neither spending weeks resting nor suffering from pain and infection are options. With proper care, you can speed up your C-section healing time. Consult your doctor before taking any medications, particularly if you are breastfeeding, and before trying home remedies.
Get Help Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding helps your uterus contract down to its normal size, which can speed up the process of healing from C-sections, according to pediatrician William Sears in "The Pregnancy Book." Many women struggle to breastfeed after a C-section because they are medicated for several hours after their baby's birth and babies born via C-section are often given bottles. Talk to a lactation consultant in the hospital and contact your local La Leche League branch if you need further help. Breastfeeding is substantially easier than making bottles, so can make bonding with your baby -- even if you're on bed rest -- easier in the first few weeks.
As soon as your doctor gives you permission, start moving around. You should avoid heavy exercise, bending and squatting, but slow walks around the hospital or in your neighborhood can increase blood circulation and speed up the healing process, according to "The Essential C-Section Guide." Six weeks after your C-section, if you are feeling pain at the scar location or struggling with basic mobility issues, ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist.
No matter how much you want to, you will be unable to do all the things you normally do immediately after a C-section. Too much lifting or stress can tear your incision and result in infection. Line up help before you return home from the hospital. If you don't have a partner, ask your parents, friends or a babysitter to trade out newborn care shifts and bring you food. If you have additional help, you'll be less likely to overexert yourself and will recover more quickly.
Keeping your C-section incision dry and clean speeds up recovery and lowers your chances of developing an infection, according to "Strategies for the C-Section Mom." Use a blow drier on a low, cool setting to keep your scar dry. If your doctor prescribes antibiotic ointment, apply it in the precise manner recommended by your doctor.
Get Proper Nutrition
Eating balanced meals, even if you don't have much of an appetite, will decrease healing time. Fiber is especially important after a C-section. Women who have had this surgery typically go 24 hours or more without eating and then are on a liquid diet. This can lead to severe constipation, which is especially painful after a C-section. Take a fiber supplement or eat fiber-fortified cereals while you recover.
- Strategies for the C-Section Mom; Mary Beth Knight et al.
- The Essential C-Section Guide; Maureen Connolly et al.
- The Pregnancy Book; William Sears, M.D., et al.
- USA Today: C-Section Rate in U.S. Climbs to All-Time High