Out of the hundreds of emails I have received thus far, the most commonly asked questions are about the pains and discomforts experienced after undergoing a Caesarean Section. Many women are unsure what pains are normal, what discomforts are common, and how long they should last. Recovering from a Caesarean is indeed painful, and it is very important to distinguish between a normal pain or discomfort and one that can signify something serious.
After a Caesarean women in general will experience similiar pain and discomfort. The onset of the pain begins as the uterus begins contracting down to its original size. The feeling is like a menstrual cramp, and can cause pain and discomfort. This sensation is normal however and usually eases off within 24-48 hours.
The real pain and discomfort begins when those first steps are taken. The pain feels like a burning sensation as well as sharp pains that extend from the incision into the lower abdominal area. Experiencing this pain can actually deter some women from getting out of bed and moving. However, it is essential that a woman begins moving as soon as possible to help with the recovery process.
The pain experienced when trying to walk will make many women walk hunched over. Standing up straight causes a feeling of burning and tearing in the incision area. All of these pains are normal. Fortunately the pain will ease up gradually, and walking straight won’t be as painful.
As recovery progresses, the sharp burning pains ease off and new discomforts may set in. Most of these new discomforts are located in and around the incision. The most important thing to remember is that if the pain surpasses the normal pains you experience, or if they are accompanied by fever, chills, heavy bleeding, or dizziness, you need to contact a physician.
Achiness: An aching sensation in the incision area is normal. Both nerves and muscles are cut during a Caesarean. During the healing process, those muscles surrounding the incision are can ache as they heal.
Numbness: Numbness in and around the incision area can be a startling sensation for many women. The area directly beneath, above and to the sides of the incision will be numb. Many women never regain any sensation in those areas. When you place your fingertips on those areas and rub, chances are you won’t feel it! This too is completely normal and a result from the cut nerves.
Itching: As the incision heals, itching will occur. However, even after the incision has healed, many women will still continue to experience itching in and around the incision. Unfortunately, because of the numbness, scratching those areas will provide little relief. Itching is in most cases normal. However, if it is accompanied by fever, chills, drainage, or dizziness, contact your physician as it may be a sign of a possible infection.
Cramping: As I mentioned earlier in this article, cramping begins immediately after the Caesarean as the uterus contracts back to its normal size. This cramping can actually occur during impending ovulation, whether or not you experienced it before the operation. Cramping, in most cases, is normal. If the pain is excessive, or cannot be eased off by Tylenol, a call to your physician may be in order.
Sharp Pains: The sharp pains begin immediately after a Caesarean and tend to continue for a lengthy amount of time. They can range from short, quick jabs of pain to sharp pains that extend through the whole incision. They can be brought on by many things including turning a certain way, rolling over in bed, walking, bending, lifting, or stooping. If the pain does not ease up or is accompanied by fever, chills, nausea, bleeding, dizziness or leakage, contact your physician.
The pains and discomforts listed above are the most common pains experienced after a Caesarean. If you ever have a doubt about a pain or discomfort, don’t hesitate to contact your physician. Pain and discomfort are normal parts of the recovery process, but sometimes it is our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong.