C-Section Recovery and Warning Signs

6 Reasons to Call Your Doctor After a C-Section Birth

Operating room nurse showing newborn to mother
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After giving birth to your baby by cesarean section (c-section), there are a couple of warning signs that you need to be watching for that may indicate a problem. If you see any of the following, be sure to contact your doctor or midwife:

You have a fever after a c-section.

While it can be normal to run a temperature slightly higher than average, most doctors and midwives want you to call if you have a fever after a c-section of 101 degrees F or if you have a low-grade fever that lasts more than 24 hours.

This may be a sign of an infection. This could be an infection of your uterus or in your breasts, either way, you will want to be seen and treated right away to prevent the infection from spreading and from making your incredibly ill.

Your incision is draining.

Sometimes your incision will drain blood or pus. You should always have this looked at, while some discharge may be normal after surgery, let your practitioners decide what that is for you. While you are in the hospital, be sure to ask the nurses who care for you about what you should see and when. This can help you have better guidance when you go home.

Pain that gets worse or never goes away.

Pain is a part of the recovery from surgery, but your pain will be treated. If you have pain in your incision or anywhere that never quite goes away or doesn't get better as time goes on, be sure to see your doctor. If the pain is increasing, despite pain medications, call immediately.

If you are still in the hospital, be sure to talk to the nurse on call, they can help you stay on top of your pain.

Difficulty breathing.

You may be a bit sore and find it hard, at first, to take deep breaths, but should this remain a problem or become worse, it's important to call. You are at a greater risk for some breathing difficulties after a surgical birth.

Your nurse or doctor may have you do special breathing exercises to help you after birth.

Bleeding issues.

Bleeding from the vagina is normal after a c-section. This is coming from where the placenta was attached to your uterus, all moms have to let that site heal. However, there such a thing as too much bleeding. If you soak a pad every hour for two hours, if you have no bleeding or if your bleeding never begins to diminish, you need to be seen. Sometimes this is from a piece of the placenta remaining inside your uterus. Your doctor or midwife can help you figure out what's going on.

Something that concerns you.

This list is not the end all, be all list - it's just a small set of reminders. If you have any other symptoms that concern you, call your practitioner. That is what they are there for and are willing to help you. Do not wait until your next appointment - call right away.

Sources:

Cesarean Delivery, Patient Education Pamphlet. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). May 2015.

Mackeen A, Packard RE, Ota E, Speer L. Antibiotic regimens for postpartum endometritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001067. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001067.pub3

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