If you've recently had a caesarean birth or you're planning on giving birth via C-section soon, you're probably wondering what to expect.
1 in 3 Australian mums bring their baby into the world through a caesarean birth and although it's incredibly common, it is still a major procedure . With that in mind, there are a few things you should avoid following major surgery, like a C-section, that can affect your recovery process.
While modern medicine has come leaps and bounds, it's important to remember that this is a major moment for your body (and you might need to wait to start driving and complete normal daily tasks).
One question that gets asked a lot is whether driving after a C-section is safe to do. So, we're answering all the common questions and concerns surrounding driving after C-sections and when is the right time to get behind the wheel.
How long is the C-section recovery period?
Recovery after a C-section looks different for everyone, but the recovery period typically takes around 6 weeks.
Following a caesarean birth, women typically remain in the hospital for anywhere between 2-5 days, however, this can vary depending on if there are hiccups in the recovery process.
But keep in mind that each person is different, and it can take some patients a bit longer than others to recover after surgery. Plus recovery isn't always a linear path, meaning you might notice you need longer periods of rest than you first expected.
What can you expect while recovering from a C-section?
Everyone's recovery period looks a little different, but recovering from a caesarean section typically takes longer to recover from than a vaginal birth.
That's because this method of delivery is more invasive and involves a surgical intervention to bring your baby into the world. Giving birth is a major milestone, and throwing recovery from surgery into the mix can mean you'll need to wait a little longer before you gain the ability to feel totally like yourself again.
Here's what you can expect in your initial recovery period, from 2-6 weeks after your caesarean section.
The first 24 hours
If you've had general anaesthetic for your caesarean birth, you can expect to stay in the recovery room until you've woken up, generally for 30-60 minutes .
Midwives and nurses will look after you in the recovery room until there's a medical clearance that you're ready to head to the postnatal ward. During this time, your midwives will check your wound, blood pressure and how much vaginal bleeding there is .
The most important thing you can do during this time is to rest, enjoy the first few hours with your new child and get as much sleep as you can.
Most women stay in the hospital for 2-4 days following a caesarean birth and midwives and nurses will check to see if you're eating and drinking enough . The initial days following this operation come with the highest risk of complications, so it's important to put your safety first and follow your medical terms guidance.
Hospital staff also help you move around, assist you with pain medication and bonding with your baby including breastfeeding. Moving around is essential in the first few days following C-sections to avoid developing a chest infection and blood clots.
2-5 weeks post-C-section
Your first postpartum visit typically occurs in the second week after birth and this is when your incision site will be examined. Your doctor or healthcare professional will check to make sure there's no major swelling or signs of infection.
Although by this point, you should be feeling better, it is common to experience 'baby blues' which is caused by fluctuations in mood as a result of the changes in your hormones . If you are experiencing a dip in your mood, be sure to talk about this with your doctor.
It's also important to watch out for the following physical symptoms and call your doctor if you experience any of them .
- Infection at the incision site
- Heavy bleeding
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling or pain in your legs
- Chest pain
- Excessive pain
- Abnormal discharge
The 6-week mark
6 weeks marks the typical end of the initial recovery period where you have your last postpartum visit to the doctor. It's also important to note that it's completely OK if you haven't fully recovered by this point — everyone's recovery journey looks different and there is no rush.
At this point, your incision should be close to healed and your pain should decrease. If your doctor gives you medical clearance, you should be able to resume your normal routine, which can include exercise.
During the first couple of weeks of postnatal recovery, it's important to take it easy and focus on physical and mental well-being. To give you an extra pair of hands, Kin's C-Section Recovery Kit has all the essentials needed to help you heal from your C-section delivery.
The kit comes packed with postpartum briefs that sit above and out of the way of your incision site for maximum comfort when you heal, and a belly band to target compression around your incision site and abdominal muscles.
Following a C-section, it's likely scarring will appear as the wound heals. The kit also comes with Kin's Nourishing Cream, which helps to reduce the appearance of scars and firm up postpartum skin. While you wait for your body to naturally heal itself, this kit is here to give your body the extra TLC it deserves.
Why is it difficult to drive after a C-section?
After your C-section, you'll probably want to feel normal again and that includes driving. But, doctors typically recommend that you don't resume driving until your incision wound has completely healed.
This is because if you brake suddenly in the car, it could cause discomfort and sharp pains. Plus, following your C-section, it's likely that you're taking pain medication to manage your pain and symptoms which can impair your judgement on the road.
Basically, there is a higher risk of things going wrong if you start driving too soon after your delivery.
How long after a C-section can you drive?
So, what timeline should you be following when it comes to driving after a C-section?
It's recommended that you don't start driving until your wound has healed which typically takes 6 weeks to make sure you can drive safely . It's best to discuss driving after your C-section with your ob-gyn or doctor so they can make sure you're ready to get back in the car.
The best precautionary measures for driving after a C-section
Most new mums are told to avoid driving until it's safe to do so. Before you get in the car and hit the road, you should probably check a few things to make sure you feel ready behind the wheel.
If you're taking any pain medication it's a good idea to avoid driving as medications can increase driving risks as your judgement is impaired.
If you do decide to drive after a C-section (when your doctor gives you the green light!), here are some precautionary measures you can take to drive safely:
- Make sure you're pain-free and your incision site is healed.
- Don't take sedating medications (such as painkillers) before driving.
- Make sure you're comfortable when driving after a C-section.
- To maximise comfort wear soft and breathable undies and clothing to avoid causing pain to the incision site such as Kin's Mesh Panties.
- Drive at slower speeds and shorter distances, and slowly build up your routes over a number of days and weeks.
What else should you avoid doing after a C-section?
After a C-section, it's important to lean on friends or a family member and ask for help as there are some things you should avoid doing so you don't cause strain and discomfort to your body.
Here are some things to avoid doing after a C-section:
- Don't lift anything heavier than your baby.
- Don't take baths until the bleeding has stopped and you're incision wound has healed.
- Avoid strenuous and intense exercise.
- Avoid public pools and beaches until your wound has healed.
- Avoid having sex until your doctors have given you the green light.
- Avoid tampons.
- Don't repeatedly walk up the stairs.
The recovery period following a caesarean birth looks different for everyone. But, there are a few safety precautions everyone can take following this procedure, especially when it comes to driving.
It's always best to talk to your doctor so they can assess whether or not you're ready to get back on the roads.
Photo credit: Getty Images