Childbirth is always going to be taxing on your body, especially if you experience an emergency caesarean delivery. But what does the recovery period look like if you’re forced to go through an emergency C-section?
There are a number of reasons why you might have to undergo an emergency C-section delivery when you’re expecting. It may be due to a prolonged or delayed labour, the baby’s position, your personal health condition, a womb tear, or even to reduce the chances of cases of medical negligence at birth.
No matter what the reason for an emergency C-section is, the fact remains that it is a significant procedure that can take a heavy toll on anyone’s body, no matter how fit and healthy they may otherwise be. That raises the question – how difficult is it to recover from such a procedure?
In this post, we’ll be detailing what the emergency C-section procedure involves, what effects it can have on someone’s body and what the general recovery period looks like. If you want to know what to expect, take a look…
What Does an Emergency C-Section Procedure Involve?
The biggest difference between a standard C-section and an emergency C-section is how someone prepares for each procedure. As you might expect, an emergency C-section is performed very quickly, which means there’s less time for preparation.
Standard C-sections are performed with local or regional anesthesia but, for an emergency C-section, the timing and details of your situation will affect your options for anesthesia. Your doctor and anesthesiologist may decide that there is time to administer a spinal injection, you may have an epidural in place. Or, you may be given general anesthesia to make sure you’re pain free during surgery – but you won’t be awake.
In non-emergency C-sections, a horizontal cut is typically performed. This incision will also likely be made if you’re already at term. However, during certain emergency C-sections, where your baby’s health requires immediate attention, the surgeon may see fit to use a vertical incision on your uterus to get to the baby faster.
This type of incision might be necessary due to adhesions from any previous surgeries you might have undergone, or fibroids that may be in the way of the uterus.
What are the Risks of an Emergency C-section?
As with any type of C-section, emergency C-sections do present a number of potential health risks. However, due to the sudden nature of the procedure, said risks are often exacerbated.
The risks to a mother who undergoes an emergency C-section include:
- Opening stitches
- Injuries to internal organs or blood vessels near the uterus
- Blood loss
- Blood clots
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Being unable to deliver vaginally in the future
It also needs to be noted that the effects of an emergency C-section may prevent a mother from having skin-to-skin contact with their baby immediately after birth. The effects of medications administered may also make breastfeeding challenging.
What Does Recovery from an Emergency C-Section Look Like?
Following any caesarean section, you’ll be kept in hospital for at least a few days to help you recover and so doctors can monitor your condition. Of course, you may be able to return home sooner than this if both you and our baby are doing well.
While in hospital, your immediate recovery will generally involve basic steps like:
- Being given painkillers to reduce pain and discomfort
- Gradually being allowed contact with your baby
- Being encouraged to gently move about as soon as possible
- Eating and drinking to improve your energy levels and help your body to start repairing itself
- Being provided with a catheter for your bladder for at least 12 hours
- Being given dressings for your wounds
Once you’re home, you’ll be given some directions on how to look after yourself and your caesarean wound.
In general, you’ll be advised on how to clean and dry your wound every day, what clothes to wear and the signs that could point towards an infection. If you’ve been given non-dissolvable stitches or staples, these will usually be taken out by your midwife after five to seven days.
It’s common to experience some discomfort after the first few days, and bleeding can last for several weeks. Vaginal bleeding may also occur following a C-section. Light bleeding can be handled with bandages or sanitary pads, but it’s important to seek medical advice for heavy bleeding.
As you continue to recover from home, you won’t physically be able to perform certain activities for a period of time, such as rigorous exercise, driving, or having sex. But, you’ll be able to begin these activities once you feel comfortable doing so. Usually, it will take at least six weeks before you can continue these activities, but it may take longer depending on your circumstances.
How Can You Speed Up Your Recovery Following an Emergency C-Section?
There are a number of simple ways you can speed up your natural recovery if you’ve gone through an emergency C-section:
Rest as Much as Possible
It’s admittedly easier said than done, but it’s absolutely vital that you rest as much as possible after having an emergency C-section. Only when you’re resting can you be sure that your body is properly healing itself, and it will reduce the risk of you causing any additional health issues.
It’s always important to maintain a balanced diet, with plenty of nutrients, but after going through something as traumatic as an emergency C-section, it’s even more important. That’s especially true if you’re breastfeeding, as you’ll be your baby’s primary source of nutrition.
Know When to Call the Doctor
You’re never going to feel 100 percent after an emergency C-section, but there is a line. Get to know what is and isn’t normal and understand when you should call a doctor to help you. This may be because you’re continually bleeding, you’re running a fever or you suspect an infection – whatever it is, make sure you speak to an expert!
Have You Recently Experienced an Emergency C-Section?
In this post, we’ve discussed what you can expect the recovery from an emergency C-section to look like, as well as what you may be able to do to ensure that you make a speedy and full recovery.
Have you previously been through an emergency C-section? How did you find the recovery? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below so we can keep the discussion going!
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.