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Why cant I drive after Csection?

How to recover from a c-section at home

You will probably need some help in the early days at home after your caesarean section (c-section). But you can start your usual activities when you feel ready. Your midwife or health visitor will check you’re recovering well.

How long does it take to recover after a c-section?

It usually takes about 6 weeks to recover from your c-section but this will depend on your individual situation. If you had any problems during or after your c-section, or if you’re looking after other children at home, you may feel you need more time to recover.

Speak to your GP if you are still having pain or you don’t feel you have recovered after 6 weeks.

“I was busy at home looking after my older children. I felt tired and uncomfortable for nearly three months.”

Gentle exercise, such as walking, will help you recover from your c-section. But avoid anything more active until you have no pain and you feel ready. For example, avoid driving, carrying anything heavy, having sex or doing heavy housework, such as vacuuming, until you feel able to. You will need help with carrying your baby in their car seat and with lifting their pram. Check with your insurance company when you will be covered for driving after a c-section.

Medical checks

Your midwife and health visitor will visit you at home for the first few weeks to check how you and your baby are getting on. After that, you can see your health visitor at a local clinic if you’d like your baby to be weighed or if you want to talk about any problems you’re having. You will need to make an appointment with your GP for your post-natal check 6–8 weeks after your c-section. This is to check how you are recovering.

Looking after your c-section wound

Your midwife will visit you at home to check your wound and remove your dressing, if you still have one. They will also remove the stitches or staples after 5–7 days, unless you have dissolvable stitches. This does not hurt but it may feel uncomfortable.

Once your dressing is off, clean and dry your wound carefully every day. You may find it more comfortable to wear cotton high-waisted pants and loose clothes.

Tell your midwife or GP straight away if you have any signs of infection, such as:

  • you have a high temperature
  • you feel generally unwell — for example, an upset stomach
  • your wound becomes red, swollen, painful or has a discharge.

“I got an infection in my wound a week after surgery and I felt a bit of a failure because of it. I had been bathing and keeping it clean as well as I could, but it’s in an awkward place and with the extra baby weight, it’s hard to see the wound.”

Pain relief

Your wound will feel sore and bruised for a few weeks. You will need to take pain relief for at least 7–10 days after your c-section.

Your midwife or doctor will tell you what pain relief you can take. Small amounts of any medicine you take may pass into your breastmilk but they’re unlikely to harm your baby if you take them as instructed. Do not take codeine or co-codamol (which contains codeine) if you’re breastfeeding, as they may harm your baby.

Always check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist before taking any medicines. Your midwife may give you painkillers, such as paracetamol, to take at home.

It’s important to take your pain relief regularly and on time, even if you don’t have pain at the moment. If you are still having pain with the painkillers, speak to your midwife, pharmacist or GP.

Getting in and out of bed

Getting in and out of bed can be difficult or uncomfortable while you’re recovering from your c-section. To make it easier to get out of bed, you could try:

  • rolling on to your side
  • dropping both legs over the side of the bed
  • pushing yourself up sideways into a sitting position.

Try to stand up as straight as you can. You can do the opposite to get back into bed.

“I was not prepared for how difficult I would find getting out of bed after my second c-section. The first few days are the worst so if you can sleep sitting up, it’s probably worth trying!”

C-section scar recovery

Your wound will take about 6 weeks to heal. You will have a scar but this will fade over time. Your scar will be 10–20cm long and is usually just below your bikini line. It will be red at first but will fade over time. On darker skin, it may fade to a brown or white line. You may lose feeling in the area of your wound, which may come back over time.

“I had no feeling around my wound for nearly 5 months. I just had a strange feeling of pins and needles when I touched the area.”

Your midwife may advise you to massage your scar after it has fully healed. This can break up the scar tissue and stop any itching. There isn’t much evidence to show how well this works, but some people find it helpful. To massage your scar:

  • lie on your back
  • using a non-perfumed cream or lotion, make 20–30 small circular motions with your fingertips over your scar
  • repeat 2–3 times a day.

Preventing blood clots

Keeping as active as possible and drinking plenty of fluids will help to lower your risk of a blood clot.
Your midwife may have given you a blood-thinning medicine. While you’re in hospital, they will show you how to inject yourself daily.

Tell your GP, midwife or health visitor straight away if you have signs of a blood clot, such as:

  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • swollen or painful lower legs.

Sex after a c-section

You may not feel ready to have sex again until you have fully recovered from your c-section. This may take about 6 weeks. How long you wait will depend on how you feel physically and emotionally.

Your GP will talk to you about your contraception options at your 6-week check. But you can speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP at any time about contraception.

Driving after a c-section

You can start driving again once your GP has told you that it’s safe for you to do so. This may be about 6 weeks after your c-section.

You should be insured to drive once your GP has said you can. Have a look at your insurance company’s website to check their policy on driving after a c-section.

If you have ongoing complications from your c-section that affect your driving, you may need to tell the DVLA and your insurance company.

When to seek help after a c-section

If you have any of the following symptoms contact your GP or call 111 straight away:

  • difficulty or pain passing urine or leaking urine when you don’t mean to
  • your pain relief is not keeping your pain under control or your pain is getting worse
  • sore or tender abdomen (tummy area)
  • red, swollen or painful wound
  • discharge from your wound or you’re worried your wound is not healing properly
  • a high temperature
  • vaginal bleeding that is still heavy after a week or gets heavier – get help straight away if you also feel faint or dizzy, or your heartbeat is fast or ‘pounding’
  • unpleasant smelling vaginal blood or discharge
  • cough, chest pain or shortness of breath
  • a persistent or severe headache
  • pain, redness or swelling in the lower leg (calf muscle)
  • breast redness and swelling for more than 24 hours and is getting worse
  • problems with your baby’s breathing – call 999 if you’re worried about your baby’s breathing.

Always call 999 if you or your baby needs emergency medical help.

Your next pregnancy

When you’re ready, you may start thinking about having another baby. Read more about your health in pregnancy and options for giving birth if you’ve had a previous c-section.

Recovery — Caesarean section

The average stay in hospital after a caesarean is around 4 days.

You may be able to go home sooner than this if both you and your baby are well.

While in hospital:

  • you’ll be given painkillers to reduce any discomfort
  • you’ll have regular close contact with your baby and can start breastfeeding
  • you’ll be encouraged to get out of bed and move around as soon as possible
  • you can eat and drink as soon as you feel hungry or thirsty
  • a thin, flexible tube called a catheter will remain in your bladder for at least 12 hours
  • your wound will be covered with a dressing for at least 24 hours

When you’re well enough to go home, you’ll need to arrange for someone to give you a lift as you will not be able to drive for a few weeks.

Looking after your wound

Your midwife should also advise you on how to look after your wound.

You’ll usually be advised to:

  • gently clean and dry the wound every day
  • wear loose, comfortable clothes and cotton underwear
  • take a painkiller if the wound is sore – for most women, it’s better to take paracetamol or ibuprofen (but not aspirin) while you’re breastfeeding
  • watch out for signs of infection

Non-dissolvable stitches or staples will usually be taken out by your midwife after 5 to 7 days.

Your scar

A caesarean section scar

The wound in your tummy will eventually form a scar.

This will usually be a horizontal scar about 10 to 20cm long, just below your bikini line.

In rare cases, you may have a vertical scar just below your bellybutton.

The scar will probably be red and obvious at first, but should fade with time and will often be hidden by your pubic hair.

On darker skin, the scar tissue may fade to leave a brown or white mark.

Controlling pain and bleeding

Most women experience some discomfort for the first few days after a caesarean, and for some women the pain can last several weeks.

You should make sure you have regular painkillers to take at home for as long as you need them, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Aspirin and the stronger painkiller codeine present in co-codamol is not usually recommended if you’re breastfeeding.

Your doctor will be able to advise you on the most suitable painkiller for you to take.

You may also have some vaginal bleeding.

Use sanitary pads rather than tampons to reduce the risk of spreading infection into the vagina, and get medical advice if the bleeding is heavy.

Returning to your normal activities

Try to stay mobile and do gentle activities, such as going for a daily walk, while you’re recovering to reduce the risk of blood clots. Be careful not to overexert yourself.

You should be able to hold and carry your baby once you get home.

But you may not be able to do some activities straight away, such as:

  • driving
  • exercising
  • carrying anything heavier than your baby
  • having sex

Only start to do these things again when you feel able to do so and do not find them uncomfortable. This may not be for 6 weeks or so.

Ask your midwife for advice if you’re unsure when it’s safe to start returning to your normal activities.

You can also ask a GP at your 6-week postnatal check.

When to get medical advice

Contact your midwife or a GP straight away if you have any of the following symptoms after a caesarean:

  • severe pain
  • leaking urine
  • pain when peeing
  • heavy vaginal bleeding
  • your wound becomes more red, painful and swollen
  • a discharge of pus or foul-smelling fluid from your wound
  • a cough or shortness of breath
  • swelling or pain in your lower leg

These symptoms may be the sign of an infection or blood clot, which should be treated as soon as possible.

Page last reviewed: 04 January 2023
Next review due: 04 January 2026

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