What to Expect With a C-Section Scar

Having a baby is exciting for anyone. New parents look forward to the first few days of bonding with their new baby once the birth is over. However, when the baby arrives via c-section, the early weeks at home get a touch more complicated.

C-section, or cesarean section, is a way of giving birth that involves delivering the baby through surgery. There are many reasons that an expectant parent might need to have a c-section, and it is a fairly standard procedure. Most people recover from a c-section without any trouble, but it is major surgery. You will need to take care of yourself differently than you would after a vaginal birth.

Learn more about c-section recovery and what you should know about a c-section scar. 

Caring for Your C-Section Scar

During a c-section, doctors make an incision in your abdomen and through the wall of the uterus so they can safely deliver your baby. After that, they will close the incisions using a combination of stitches, staples, and surgical glue. The scar will be very low on your belly, just above your pelvic bone. 

In the first few days after a c-section, your scar will be sore to the touch, and it may hurt to move around. It will look red and slightly swollen, and you’ll be able to see the stitch or glue they used to close the wound. Your doctor will give your instructions for taking care of your scar at home.

Pain relief. Your doctor will help you make a plan for managing the pain, including prescriptions for pain medicine. Take pain pills only as directed, especially if you are breastfeeding. Ask your doctor before taking any new medications that might affect your breastmilk.

Wound care. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to take care of your c-section scar. The most important thing will be to keep the area clean and dry. You can take showers and wash the scar gently, then pat it dry. Ask your doctor whether you need to keep it covered with bandages and for how long.

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Stay dry. Soaking your body in a bath, hot tub, or swimming pool is not recommended. It can increase the risk of complications with your incision and delay healing.

Dress comfortably. You may want to wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t rub on your c-section scar. You will have vaginal bleeding for several weeks after giving birth, so pick clothes that allow you to wear pads under them. Choose clothing that is comfortable and easy to put on and take off since bending over is difficult right after a c-section.

Activity After a C-Section

You should plan to rest a lot in the first few weeks after a c-section. Surgery takes a lot out of your body, and you need to rest so you can heal and take care of your new baby. However, it’s essential to get up and move each day so that you don’t risk getting blood clots. Your doctor will explain how much movement will be right for you.

Your doctor will probably suggest restrictions on some activities to promote healing.

  • Do not lift anything heavier than your baby
  • Do not drive for at least two weeks
  • Refrain from sex for at least six weeks
  • Do not do any exercise that makes you breathe heavy or strain your muscles

You can ask your doctor about resuming your regular activities when you go in for follow-up appointments to check how your c-section scar is healing. 

Complications After a C-Section

Most new parents recover from a c-section without significant complications. However, any surgery has risks of problems afterward, including infections or blood clots. You should pay close attention to how you feel right after your c-section birth. Get in touch with your doctor if you think there is a problem.

Some possible signs of complications include:

  • Severe pain
  • Fever
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Pain when you urinate or difficulty urinating
  • Your scar gets more red, painful, or swollen
  • You notice pus or a bad-smelling fluid coming from your scar
  • Coughing or trouble breathing
  • Swelling or pain in your leg

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As time passes, your scar will heal. The mark from the incision will fade from red to white or the same color as the surrounding skin. If you have dark skin, the scar may be darker than the skin around it. The swelling will go away, though the scar tissue may be slightly raised. There should not be lasting pain in the area, and you will be able to move normally in a few weeks. 

Typically, having a c-section in one pregnancy doesn’t affect future pregnancies. Still, you should tell your doctor about the c-section if you want more children in the future. Your doctor can help you get the right care and plan a safe delivery for your next baby

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 10, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Kansas City ObGyn: "Cesarean Sections."

Mt. Sinai: “Going home after a C-section.”

National Health Service UK: “Caesarean section.”

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