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Cesarean Section - What to Expect After C-Section

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Diet

  • You can eat the foods that are in your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fiber supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Incision care

  • If you have strips of tape on the incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Other cleaning products, such as hydrogen peroxide, can make the wound heal more slowly. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

For information about how a cesarean affects future deliveries, see the topic Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).

When to call a doctor

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • You have severe pain in your belly.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks one or more pads each hour for 2 or more hours.
  • Your vaginal bleeding seems to be getting heavier or is still bright red 4 days after delivery.
  • You pass blood clots larger than the size of a golf ball.
  • You have vaginal discharge that smells bad.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • Your belly feels tender, or full and hard.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin.
    • A fever.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have trouble passing urine or stool, especially if you have pain or swelling in your lower belly.
  • You feel sad, tearful, or hopeless for more than a few days, or you have troubling or dangerous thoughts.

Some women feel shoulder pain for days after a cesarean section. This is referred pain, caused by trauma to the abdominal muscles during the delivery. It goes away on its own during recovery.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 23, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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