Pregnancy After C Section

How do your family planning and pregnancy spacing decision get affected when you have had a caesarean section? It may have been a planned C-section or perhaps it was an emergency due to childbirth complications. The toll on your body varies greatly between a natural childbirth and a C-section surgery. Women experiencing an uncomplicated vaginal delivery are usually "back to normal" soon after the childbirth whilst women with a C-section have to recover from the surgery in addition to dealing with the bodily changes after childbirth.

How Long Should I Wait Before Getting Pregnant After a C-Section?

The general rule is to wait between eighteen to twenty-four months before trying to conceive again. The internal organs that have been operated on need time to heal completely. Women who have had C-sections generally experience double the blood loss compared to a vaginal childbirth. Your body will have to replenish any lost nutrients in the recovery period.

However, if you find yourself pregnant again before eighteen months, do not panic because many women have found themselves in that situation and delivered successfully. Get advice from your doctor.

What Are the Risks and Complications of Pregnancy After C Section?

There are some pregnancy complications that may arise if you’ve previously had a C-section, including:

1. Subsequent Ectopic Pregnancy

The embryo does not implant into the uterus but remains in the fallopian tubes. This pregnancy will not develop further and the condition could be dangerous. Studies have shown that the rate of ectopic pregnancy is 28%-76% in women with previous C-sections.

2. Placental Abruption

Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus prematurely. It can cause heavy bleeding and poses a serious threat to the baby.

3. Placenta Accrete

The condition occurs when the placenta attaches and grows very deeply into the wall of the uterus. This is a serious complication of pregnancy after C section and can cause severe bleeding during childbirth.

4. Uterine Rupture During Labor

It occurs in 1%-2% of women with one low transverse scar from a previous C-section. When the scar from the previous C-section splits, surgical intervention is required. The scar can also be stretched thin to create an asymptomatic rupture which usually heals on its own. Women who have a vertical scar are at a higher risk of rupture. It is recommended that these women have caesarean births.

5. Hysterectomies

Studies have shown that there is a higher risk of hysterectomies in women who have had four C-sections compared to a woman with two C-sections.

Can I Have Vaginal Birth After C Section?

The answer is yes. This is medically referred to as a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean).  Statistically, more than 70% of VBACs are successful. Your doctor will be the best person to consult when making this decision. He/she will help you weigh the risks and complications with the benefits. There are some criteria to having a successful VABC:

  • Both you and your baby are in good health condition.
  • You’ve had a previous vaginal delivery.
  • Your C-section incision was a low transverse incision. This is commonly known as a bikini cut. It is the most common type of incision because it bleeds less than other types and also forms a stronger scar on the uterus.
  • Your labor is not induced but starts on its own near your due date.

Tips for Care After C Section

You need to take great care of yourself after the surgery, especially if you're considering pregnancy after C section. Here are some precautions and tips for you.

1. Move Around

Start moving around gradually after the urine catheter has been removed. This will speed up your recovery. Your normal bodily functions will get back to normal and it will prevent any post-operative complications due to inactivity. Moving around after surgery will also prevent constipation, post-operative pneumonia and blood clots in the legs. By your six-week doctor’s check-up, you should be able to engage in more intense activity.

2. Take Painkillers

Take your pain medication prescribed for you. Pain after a C-section is normal and you can control it by taking the oral painkillers.

3. Get Support and Help

Get help from your partner or the nurses to lift your baby. Bending over a bassinet may prove to be a challenge in the early days after a C-section. It will be more comfortable to use pillows for extra support while breastfeeding. Avoid lifting anything heavier than your new-born. Ask a lactation consultant or nurse for the best breastfeeding positions that are comfortable for your surgical wound.

4. Cope with Bleeding

You will experience vaginal bleeding even though you did not deliver vaginally. It is normal to bleed as your uterus shrinks back to size and expels all the tissue from the pregnancy. Change your sanitary products regularly and avoid tampons.

5. Relieve Constipation

Avoid constipation by eating fiber-rich foods, drinking a lot of fluids and moving around. Surgery in the abdominal area always results in constipation and a build-up of gas.

6. Take Care of the Surgical Wound

Healing of the surgical wound is important for pregnancy after C section. Keep the wound clean and dry and it should be healed after a week. Take note of the appearance of the healing scar. If the skin surrounding it becomes red, hard and painful; secrets pus or fluid; or you develop a fever, you should call your doctor immediately. The incision could be infected and needs medication.

7. Avoid Sex

Avoid sex until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. Usually after six weeks, your recovery will be sufficient to resume sexual intercourse.

8. Get Enough Rest

Rest and eating healthy foods will speed up your body’s recovery. Keeping yourself healthy is important for your baby so that you are able to give your baby the best. Contact your healthcare practitioner if you suspect that you are suffering from postpartum depression. 

 
 
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