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Discharge Instructions for Cesarean Section (C-Section)

You had a cesarean section, or C-section. During the C-section, your baby was delivered through an incision in your stomach and uterus. Full recovery after a C-section can take time. It’s important to take care of yourself — for your own sake and because your new baby needs you. Here are some guidelines to follow at home.

Incision care

Here's how to take care of your incision:

  • Shower as needed. Pat your incision dry.

  • Watch your incision for signs of infection, like more redness or drainage.

  • Hold a pillow against the incision when you laugh or cough and when you get up from a lying or sitting position.

  • Remember, it can take as long as 6 weeks for your incision to heal.


Here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t try to take care of anyone other than your baby and yourself.

  • Remember, the more active you are, the more likely you are to have an increase in your bleeding.

  • Get lots of rest. Take naps in the afternoon.

  • Increase your activities bit by bit.

  • Plan your activities so that you don’t have to go up or down stairs more than needed.

  • Do postsurgical deep breathing and coughing exercises. Ask your healthcare provider for instructions.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby until your healthcare provider tells you it’s OK.

  • Don’t drive until your healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Don’t have sexual intercourse until after you’ve had a checkup with your healthcare provider and you have decided on a birth control method.

  • Allow others to do things for you. Don't hesitate to ask for help.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Redness, pain, or drainage at your incision site

  • Bleeding that requires a new sanitary pad every hour

  • Severe pain in the abdomen

  • Pain or urgency with urination

  • Foul odor from vaginal discharge

  • Trouble urinating or emptying your bladder

  • No bowel movement within 1 week after the birth of your baby

  • Swollen, red, painful area in the leg

  • Appearance of rash or hives

  • Sore, red, painful area on the breasts that may come with flu-like symptoms

  • Feelings of anxiety, panic, and/or depression

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2018
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