Doctors perform C-sections, also known as Cesarean sections, when women cannot safely give birth vaginally. Doctors make a surgical incision in the abdomen and deliver the baby through the uterine and abdominal walls. According to Kids Health, approximately 30 percent of all babies born in the U.S. are delivered by Cesarean section. A C-section is major surgery and women must take special precautions afterwards, including adhering to the recommended weight lifting restrictions. Lifting heavy things too soon may cause increased pain and damage to surgical incisions or abdominal muscles.
Mothers and babies usually stay in the hospital for about three days after a Cesarean birth, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mothers often choose to have their infants stay in their hospital rooms with them around the clock and most mothers can safely lift their newborns, but nurses provide assistance with baby care as needed. Don’t try to pick up your baby if it causes significant pain, if you feel lightheaded or unsteady, or otherwise think it might not be safe to do so.
Obstetricians may recommend adherence to varying lifting restrictions about a Cesarean section, but most advise not lifting more than 10 to 15 pounds for at least a few weeks after the operation, according to Childbirth Solutions. Talk to your obstetrician about the specific guidelines you should follow. New moms may need some assistance with household chores such as laundry and grocery shopping so they avoid lifting heavy items. They may also need some assistance caring for other young children; for instance, they should not lift toddlers in and out of bed.
While newborns typically weigh less than 10 pounds and moms can safely lift their newborn babies after a C-section, breastfeeding babies in the typical “cradle hold” may put too much pressure on surgical incisions and cause discomfort. Instead, women can lie on their sides to breastfeed or they can use the “clutch hold,” also referred to as the “football hold,” when breastfeeding. See Resources for more information of breastfeeding positions.
Safe Lifting Techniques
In addition to adhering to any lifting restrictions given to you by your physician, it’s important to practice safe lifting techniques, even when lifting relatively light objects. The University of California offers a number of tips for safe lifting. Lift with your legs, not your back, because your leg muscles are stronger and you’ll be less likely to injure yourself. Turn by moving your feet rather than twisting your back. Hold heavy objects close to your body. If you need to rise to your feet from a sitting position with your baby, put your baby down beside you, stand up, then pick up your baby. That puts less strain on your abdominal muscles than rising to your feet with a baby in your arms.