Cesarean Birth: What to Expect

Recovery
After surgery, your stay in the recovery room may last from 15 minutes to two hours. You may be able to breastfeed, and the new father can hold and talk to his baby.

In about six to eight hours, you'll probably be able to get up and walk around. Ask for help. Try to stand up straight; an upright posture promotes healing.

After about 24 hours, your IV tube will be removed and your diet gradually changed to normal. Your catheter will be removed in a quick, relatively painless procedure.

As your intestines begin to function again, you may have gas pains. To ease your discomfort, eat light foods that are easy to digest (toast, yogurt, soup). Get out of bed and walk around. Movement helps stimulate your digestive system.

Following your cesarean, it's normal to have a vaginal discharge. For the first three or four days the discharge is bright red; it gradually turns yellow-white in color.

Most likely, you will go home after four days in the hospital. First, your clamps, sutures or staples will be removed. If you feel uncomfortable, put your breathing and relaxation techniques to work.

Once home, you may feel very fatigued. You'll probably need household help. It's important for you to work through any feelings you may have about your birth experience and for you and your family to enjoy your wonderful baby.

Ann Carol Wyman, RN, LCCE, FACCE, teaches cesarean childbirth classes at Fairfax Hospital and Fair Oaks Hospital in northern Virginia. She is also the Maternal/Child Health Coordinator of Prince William Hospital in Manassas, VA.

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