Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to a mother’s body. But the changes don’t end there. After pregnancy and birth, your body will need some time to recover. This is especially true if you have a C-section.
Recovery after a C-section is a process, just like any other surgical procedure, and there are certain rules you have to follow to ensure that the incision heals properly. One very important rule is to avoid bending over.
When you first heard this rule, you probably thought that following it would be pretty simple. After all, no one needs to bend over that often, and there are ways around it. However, bending over is required for a lot of tasks you may not have thought about, like getting laundry out of a basket or dishes out of the dishwasher.
You’re probably wondering how long it will take for the incision to heal. When will you be able to bend over again? Fortunately, as long as there aren’t any complications, you should be able to bend over within a few weeks.
What Is a C-Section?
C-section is short for a cesarean section. It’s a surgical procedure that allows doctors to physically remove a baby from the uterus. About a third of all babies born in the United States are delivered through a C-section.
During vaginal birth, the mother pushes the baby out into the world. It’s typically a longer process than a C-section. Vaginal delivery can also have a few complications.
There can be a number of reasons why you may need to have a C-section. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or have a baby in the breech position, you may need to have a birth by C-section.
Although you can choose whether or not you would prefer a vaginal birth or a C-section, there are some situations that may require a C-section or an emergency C-section.
A C-section might be required in the case of placenta previa. The placenta is a temporary organ that forms during a pregnancy that provides food and oxygen to the baby while taking away any waste. In the case of placenta previa, this organ blocks the cervix, where the baby needs to come through for a vaginal birth.
An emergency C-section might be necessary if labor is taking too long, your baby is too large, or your little one is in a position that makes it difficult for them to come out through vaginal birth.
If you choose to have or require a C-section, it’s important to make sure that you follow your doctor’s instructions so that the healing process can go smoothly.
Why Can’t I Bend Over After a C-Section?
When a doctor performs a C-section, they’ll make two incisions: one on your abdomen and the other on your uterus. This allows them to gain access to the baby and the placenta.
After the baby and the placenta are removed, the doctor ensures that the incision will close properly. The doctor will then close the incision with either stitches, staples, or glue. The incision may be small and located along the bikini line, a long, vertical incision, or an even longer incision located above the bikini line.
Although with the right care, the incision should be able to heal well, if you bend at the waist too soon, it could begin to reopen the wound. The first couple of days after your little one is born, you will probably notice some pain if you try to bend at the waist.
The biggest potential problem with bending over too soon is that it could strain your incisions and cause one or the other to separate.
How Can I Get to Items That Are Too Low to Reach?
Even though you can’t bend at the waist, there are ways that you can get what you need. The easiest way is to ask your partner to help you get something, but that’s not always possible.
If your partner isn’t available to help, you can bend your knees to crouch instead of turning from the waist. When you’re getting up, you could use a chair or another stable surface to help pull yourself up.
What Other Things Can Affect My Recovery?
When you’re recovering from a C-section or vaginal birth, it takes time for your body to recover. Pregnancy alone is hard enough. It’s important not to put a strain on yourself, which is why most doctors recommend that you avoid lifting anything heavier than your new baby.
It’s also a good idea to avoid soaking in water until the scar is healed, so baths and pools are off-limits. It’s also best that you avoid vigorous exercise since it can further strain your body and potentially reopen the incision.
When Can I Start Bending After a C-Section?
When you’re recovering from surgery, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations. People tend to heal at their own pace, so what works for one person may not necessarily work for another.
Generally, you can start bending at the waist between two to six weeks after your C-section. As long as everything is healing well and your doctor recommends it, you should be able to bend at the waist around two weeks after giving birth.
What Are the Other Stepping Stones to Recovery?
Before you can start bending at the waist, there are other things that you should be able to accomplish. Most of these steps will happen while you're still in the hospital, so don’t worry about having to accomplish all of these steps at home.
After a C-section, you’ll want to stay in bed for a couple of days since you’ll feel some pain from the scar. The first thing that you need to work on is getting back on your feet. The doctors and nurses will want to ensure that you’re steady on your feet before you and your little one can go home.
For the first week or so, you’ll need to take it easy to help you heal faster. Supportive underwear or something like an abdominal binder can help with muscle support while you are healing, as long as you make sure that the area around the incision is protected.
Always make sure you follow any instructions from your doctor. If you aren’t sure what you can wear, always ask your doctor. Don’t guess and risk reopening your incision.
As time goes on, you can gradually incorporate more activity into your day. Walking, for example, is a great way to exercise and can prevent blood clots. By six weeks after the C-section, you should be recovered. However, it’s always a good idea to pay attention to your body’s signals to ensure you aren’t moving too fast.
What Are Some Warning Signs I Should Look Out For?
Part of caring for a C-section scar is keeping it clean and keeping an eye out for any signs of infection or other issues. If you’re ready to bend from the waist, there are a few things that you need to keep an eye out for.
If you become dizzy, feel pain, or notice bleeding from the incision site, these are signs that you need to talk to your doctor. Any visible separation of the skin or drainage from the site also means you should contact your doctor.
Symptoms of an infection are:
- Redness around the incision
- Lymph nodes that are swollen
If you notice any of these symptoms or something else that is unusual or painful, it’s always best to call a doctor. Even if it turns out to be nothing, it’s better safe than sorry.
Stay Healthy And Happy
New mothers have two things they need to do: keep their babies healthy and keep themselves healthy. Both of you have been through a lot, whether you have a C-section or vaginal birth, so you and your little one need time to rest and recover.
Part of recovering from a C-section is avoiding certain activities, like bending at the waist, until the incision is healed. Bending can put a strain on the incision, which can lead to its reopening.
There are a lot of reasons that you may need a C-section. Maybe it’s the best choice for you, or maybe it was an emergency operation. Whatever the case, it’s important to take care of the incision and learn what you can and can’t do.
Fortunately, after a few weeks, you can bend at the waist all you want, as long as your C-section incision is healing well. Then, you’ll be able to pick your little one up from the floor after tummy time or get them out of their crib without help.
Pregnancy and parenthood can both be a lot of fun, but if it’s your first time, there are a lot of new things to remember. For more educational resources to help you with your pregnancy or your baby, please check out our blog
C-Section Scar Healing Stages and Care | WonderBaby.org
Placenta Previa - Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic
C-Section (Cesarean Section): Procedure, Risks & Recovery | Cleveland Clinic