Across the world, many women experience C-section deliveries on the regular which, for the uninitiated, may seem daunting. In India, Cesarean section rates increased from 8.5 per cent in 2005 to 17.2 per cent in 2016, and much higher rates have been observed in the urban areas. Though a common surgery, it is still a major surgery, says Dr Deepthi Ashwin, senior obstetrician and gynecologist, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru.
What to expect?
If you are planning to undergo a C-section delivery, or have been advised as such, Dr Ashwin shares some important points.
* The safety of the Cesarean section has improved dramatically over the past 50 years.
* The procedure usually lasts an hour. During the first 24 hours, the challenges that a mother faces — in addition to recovering from a major surgery — are adjusting to parenthood, breastfeeding and the ‘well meant’ advice from the extended family, which can overwhelm them.
* Majority of the Cesarean sections are done under regional anesthesia, where the patients are awake during surgery but cannot feel the pain.
* Patients will need assistance to use the washroom and usually have an indwelling catheter to help them urinate.
* Liquids are given during the initial hours after surgery and slowly stepped to solids the next day. There are no dietary restrictions on a lactating mother. It is important to consume an adequate amount of fluids (2 to 3 litres).
* Antibiotics are usually given preoperatively and are continued postoperatively if required.
* Some degree of discomfort and pain is to be expected for the next few days, for which your doctor can prescribe medications.
* It is important to ambulate early to reduce the incidence of thromboembolism.
* Vaginal bleeding can last upto 6 weeks. It is usually more in the initial few days and gradually settles over time.
* Usually, patients may need to stay in the hospital for 2 to 4 days after surgery.
Tips for faster recovery
1. Rest: Rest whenever your baby sleeps. The initial few days can be tough keeping up with a 2-hour feeding schedule. New parents can easily get overwhelmed by the number of changes that they need to adapt to.
2. Breastfeeding: It is important to sit in a comfortable position before feeding. Never bend while feeding for a year or more, as it can lead to chronic backache. Use a regular or a feeding pillow if need be. Talk to the lactation consultant in the hospital so they can prepare you for the challenges that you may have to overcome.
3. Nutrition: Good nutrition is just as important in the months after you deliver as it is while pregnant. A diet rich in proteins is important. Consumption of green leafy vegetables may also improve milk production. It is important to make sure you consume 2 to 3 litres of water. This will boost breast milk supply and also prevent constipation.
4. Exercise: Patients who have undergone a C-section, can start walking after 2 weeks. Avoid lifting weights for the first 3 months. Walking can reduce the risk of blood clots and also reduce constipation. It will also improve your mental health.
5. Health: Take pain medications as needed and those prescribed by your doctor. If you need to cough or sneeze, hold your stitches and do so. It can take upto 8 weeks for complete healing.
6. Infections: If you have symptoms like fever — with or without chills — burning sensation when you pee, hard congested breasts, intense pain in your stitches area, please see your doctor who can identify the source of infection and treat you accordingly.
7. Mental health: Giving birth is an emotional experience. Some women may find it difficult to make the transition to parenthood, and it can trigger negative feelings in them. Please talk to your doctor or a close family member who can help you.
8. Contraception: Discuss with your doctor regarding contraception. You will have a bit of protection due to lactational amenorrhoea. Couples can have sex after 6 weeks or after your doctor gives you the green signal.
9. Long-term issues: It is very important to do bladder training exercises after you deliver, else it could lead to problems of urinary incontinence later in life.