“I was completely unprepared for what my son’s recovery would look like after he was born via a C-section.”

To be fair, I had kind of ignored this part of my birthing class — I didn’t want a cesarean delivery, so I didn’t listen all that well during that part of the class. And when my doctor determined that I needed a cesarean delivery right away the morning I delivered my son, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for questions.

I learned what recovery looked like by actually living it.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. About 31.8 percent of all babies born in the United States are cesarean deliveries, which means that your chances of delivering this way are pretty high.

It is a good idea to learn about cesarean deliveries, whether you are the first or third baby, and we are here to answer all your questions.

Language matters

The article draws extensively on interviews with professionals that focus on women in their personal practice and use gendered language in their discussion. We want to draw attention to the fact that people of a variety of genders and genders can have babies.

If you have any concerns about the pain that trans and gender non conforming people experience after a delivery, you should bring them to your medical team.

This is a difficult question to answer.

First, not everyone experiences pain in the same way. And second, says Liesel Teen, a labor and delivery nurse and founder of Mommy Labor Nurse, “It’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges.”

“She says that vaginal birth is more painful if you don’t have an analgesia. You will not have to go through labor and push out a baby during a C-section.”

Recovery from a C-section is more painful.

It is a major abdominal surgery and recovery is more difficult than from a vaginal birth.

That said, some vaginal births are more traumatic and complicated, which can make recovery longer and more painful, too. As a result, it’s difficult to generalize, and both options will likely come with pain.

C-section should not hurt your baby. The risk to baby is usually less than the risk to the parent.

Complications can arise.

One risk that is being aware of is the possibility of being cut by the knife as the doctor is providing the space to remove the baby.

“Teen says that your baby might be at greater risk for respiratory problems if delivered by C-section. The benefit of a C-section is that it helps to move and push amniotic fluid off of the baby’s lungs, which is a benefit when you are giving birth vaginally.”

Some babies develop breathing concerns or a wet cough after birth, which requires monitoring.

There are other possible risks to your little one.

  • missing out on beneficial bacteria in the vaginal canal
  • Skin-to-skin contact might take longer to bond with a parent.
  • slower time learning to breastfeed or chestfeed

Are there other risks I should know about?

Cesarean deliveries are generally safe. It comes with risks.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), these risks include:

  • excessive blood loss.
  • The bowels and bladder are damaged.
  • It is an infectious disease
  • There are blood clot in the legs.
  • adverse reactions to anesthesia

ACOG does not recommend elective cesareans delivery because of the higher death rate.

If you are having a planned or non-emergency delivery, you will receive a spine block. You will get an injection of anesthesia into your spine to numb you from the nipple line.

Blindt says that the injection does not hurt, but that it might cause a sensation of burning, stinging, and then it should go away.

“Cesarean delivery is not painful. You won’t be able to feel your legs or nipples because of the spine block. You won’t feel the surgeon’s incision. Think of it as a forced relaxation before you bring the baby home.”

Pain should not be present as the doctor makes room for your baby to exit, says Blindt.

When the doctor pushes over the top of your uterus to deliver your baby, you may feel a bit short of breath. This can be uncomfortable but should last a few seconds.

If you feel pain, be sure to tell your anesthesiologist.

Sometimes there is a spot in your body that is harder to numb. If this happens, your doctor can modify the medication you are receiving to make sure you are numb.

Yes, in general. It will take a while to heal from major abdominal surgery.

The first few days after a C-section are usually the most pain-free, as you heal over the course of a few weeks.

Your doctor will usually prescribe oral narcotics and anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, to help control this pain.

Teen says that anything that puts stress on your abdominal muscles will cause pain. If you need to cough, sneeze, or laugh, make sure to apply light pressure to your incision. You can use a pillow or towel to help relieve the pain.

You can avoid rubbing on your incision site with loose clothes, soft pants that sit higher on your waist, and maternity clothes.

Usually, the first week is the most painful and difficult.

Teen says that you are dealing with a lot of pain with a newborn. You will start feeling more like yourself with every passing week.

You likely won’t need any pain medication after those first few weeks. And by 6 to 8 weeks, most people feel much better.

The support system at home plays a major role in easing the pain after a C-section delivery. I recommend resting and listening to your body.

She says that allowing your body time and space to heal will help reduce future problems.

Sometimes your surgeon will use dissolvable sutures or stitches that will not need to be removed.

The removal of stitches following a C-section is painless. If the suture has healed into the skin, some women feel a pinching sensation.

“Excluding the case of a cesarean delivery, staplers are used in recovery. A doctor will need to remove them. You will be given local anesthesia when they do this, so you won’t feel anything.”

You should not feel any pain at the incision site after the removal.

People feel pain when they pee after delivery. This can happen for a number of reasons.

Doctors make an incision in the abdomen to remove a baby during a C-section. This can cause irritation to the bladder immediately after delivery, or later due to the formation of adhesions as you heal.

A healthcare professional had placed a catheter in the urethra to drain urine during the surgery, which could cause some pain for a couple of days. The teen says that the catheter can irritate the urethra.

It is important to monitor your pain in the days following cesarean delivery. And let your doctors know if you see discharge. In rare cases, pain could also be a sign of It is an infectious disease.

This is one of the most common side-effects of delivery.

The anesthesia used during a C-section can cause your bowels to slow down, which can cause air to get trapped in the stomach and intestines. The trapped air can cause some gas pains.

Some mothers report pain in their stomach, but the gas pain can also be felt in the chest and shoulders. It can take up to a week for the bowels to return to normal function, and once they do the gas pain usually goes away.

You can try one of several over-the-counter pain medications, like Tylenol or ibuprofen, to help.

If you can walk, moving will help support the movement of gas in your body. It is important to keep your bowels moving during C-section so that you can prevent constipation.

“No, the delivery itself doesn’t cause more painful periods. The first period after the surgery might be more painful.”

Some people see changes in their bodies after delivery.

Blindt says that you might notice a heavier flow, clot, or increased abdominal pain. Hormone fluctuations, healing, and overall health are factors.

If you experience more painful periods, let your doctor know because in rare cases — between 0.03 and 0.4 percent — some birthing parents develop endometriosis following cesarean delivery.

You might have some pain in your back where the epidural or spinal block was placed on your spine, but this should go away within a few days.

It should be quickly dissipated and feel like a bruised or tender spot, says Blindt.

If you feel more chronic back pain, it is not the surgery that is causing it.

The most common cause of back pain after a C-section is due to the wear and tear the body takes while carrying a baby for 9 months, says Teen. Changes in the musculoskeletal system can cause back pain.

If your back pain lasts longer than 12 weeks, it might be worth talking to a doctor or physical therapist.

Some people do feel pain or numbness (or both) at their C-section scar for months or even years after the surgery.

The most common cause of numbness is due to the disrupted nerve endings at the incision site, while the most common cause of incision pain is due to scar tissue build up.

It is worth bringing it up with your doctor if it is causing you concern or regular pain.

It’s difficult to say for certain because each delivery is unique. Plus, you may experience more or fewer complications the second time around.

Some people report less pain after two or more deliveries.

Teen believes that the primary reason for this is that they know what to expect and are better prepared for recovery.

Teen says that it is normal to be nervous about the delivery itself, and the pain that you might feel after the procedure. A C-section is a major abdominal surgery, but the unknown of what the pain will entail can be quite nerve-wracking.

It is helpful to talk about your feelings with someone you trust, whether that is your partner, a friend or family member, a healthcare professional or a therapist. People who join a support group benefit.

“Blindt says that many of the fears can be transformed through understanding, and that you don’t need to suffer in silence.”

If you would like to talk about your fears with a mental health professional or a support group, here are a few resources that can help connect you with the mental health support you need.

Make sure you pack everything you need to go to the hospital. The vaginal bleeding that will follow your delivery will require some post- delivery care products.

It is normal to feel nervous the night before your delivery, so you might want to do some self-care activities.

“Teen says that you should have a nice dinner with your significant other or someone that will support you during your baby’s birth. It might take you several days to get back to a normal diet after your C-section, so having one last dinner with your favorite foods is always a good idea.”

You might want to take a warm bath.

Blindt says that most doctors will ask you not to use perfume or lotion. Nail polish might need to be removed.

Try to get some sleep.

Teen says to get into bed a little earlier than usual, because it will be hard to sleep with the anticipation and excitement of your new baby. Playing music or meditating before bed can help you drift off to sleep.

Cesarean delivery is a major abdominal surgery, so it is normal to be nervous or anxious about the pain and recovery.

Blindt says that you are capable of safely delivering and recovering from a C-section delivery.

There is support to help you recover if you need it.