Recovery from childbirth, even an uncomplicated birth, requires a lot of time and rest. Women who deliver a child by cesarean section (also called a C-section) require additional time to recover physically. The Mayo Clinic cautions that cesarean complications can include bleeding, blood clots, inflammation and wound infections. A new mother needs to move slowly and stay off her feet in the weeks following a cesarean. Most doctors will require women recovering from a cesarean to wait at least three or four weeks before traveling.
Recovering from a cesarean usually takes between four and six weeks. You will need to rest as much as you can and not lift anything heavier than your baby. Keep an eye on your incision as well. Complications such as infection and incision separation are most common in the first few days after the surgery. Drink a lot of water and keep your feet elevated to prevent swelling. Most doctors will prescribe acetaminophen for pain. Schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor, and discuss any travel plans you have at that time.
Travel by Car
A road trip three to four weeks after a cesarean delivery is safe if your incision is healing and you do not have any other health complications. Sit comfortably in the car and wear loose, clothing. Pack plenty of snacks and water, and try to sleep in the car if you are not driving. Stop every hour in order to stretch your legs and move around.
Travel by Air
Air travel can be stressful for everyone, and jet lag, missed connections, flight delays and baggage rules might add to your exhaustion and the emotional ups and downs after giving birth. Talk to your doctor before you travel by plane. If your cesarean incision is healing well and you are in good health, you should be able to travel safely by plane three or four weeks after your cesarean. Board early so you have a little extra time getting settled. Have a flight attendant stow your carry-on luggage overhead in the plane so you do not have to reach and stretch. Try to get an aisle seat so you can get up and walk around frequently.
Know the signs of infection in case you experience them while you are traveling. The Mayo Clinic recommends calling your health care provider if you notice fever, swelling, pain or redness at the incision site, painful urination, excessive bleeding or passing blood clots, leg pain or swelling and redness in your breasts. Ask for a referral to a doctor in the place you are visiting so you will have somewhere to go if complications do occur.
When you travel after a cesarean, take all the precautions you would at home. Rest, do not lift heavy objects or stretch unnecessarily and drink water. Travel with someone who can help and support you. Talk to your doctor about any reasons that you might need to wait longer than three to four weeks before you travel.