After your surgery, the nurses move you to the recovery room after a c-section. In this room, you typically spend time with your baby and start to breastfeed. You might feel more prepared for this time if you know what happens in the recovery room.
After four c-sections, I have a good idea about what to expect in this room. While all hospitals might have different policies and strategies for handling the time in the recovery room, there are similarities in all hospitals.
So, let’s go over what you can expect to happen after your c-section. If you’re worried about this time, you can speak to your doctor or hospital staff. They can inform you about the process.
How Long Do You Stay in the Recovery Room
The hospital’s policy for how long you stay in the recovery room will vary, but it can be anywhere from an hour to four hours. Other hospitals keep you in the recovery room until your epidural or spinal wears off.
In general, how long you stay in this room will also be based on your recovery. If you feel fine and your vitals are all stable, then you will be moved to your resting room as quickly as the nurses think it is advised. If you’re nauseous or don’t feel as stable, the nurses will keep you there.
The same goes for your baby. If your baby has low blood sugar or body temperature issues, expect to stay longer in the recovery room.
What Exactly Happens in the Recovery Room?
You Stay Under Observation
The purpose of the recovery room is to watch you and your baby. The staff needs to observe you and your recovery. Typically, you’ll continue to receive fluids via your IV, as well as another dose of antibiotics.
The nurses will have plenty of questions for you. They might ask you how you feel, what your experience was like, background questions, and anything that they think is relevant.
During this time, they’ll also attach these pumps on your legs to encourage blood circulation. It’s easy to develop blood clots during this time. These are called compression stockings, and while they might be annoying, they’re useful.
Nurses perform regular checks to make sure the anesthetics are wearing off properly. They’ll also look at your wound dressings and watch the bleeding that comes out of your vagina. Depending on the strength of your bleeding, your nurse will help change your pads.
Now comes something that no woman likes. Your nurse will palpitate your stomach to determine the decrease of your uterus and to watch your bleeding. It feels like the nurse is gut-punching you, but it ends fast.
The Nurses Take Your Vitals
Expect the nurses to watch your vitals closely during this time. Your nurses will take your body temperature and blood pressure several times. Chances are you’ll need to keep a blood pressure cuff on for periodic checks.
They also need to check your baby’s blood sugar and body temperature. The staff has to be sure that you’re recovering at the appropriate rate, and the best way to typically determine this is to watch your vitals. The nurses will also check your baby’s respirations per minute and heart rate. They’ll listen to his lungs to be sure they’re clear of fluids.
You Have Skin to Skin with Your Baby
This is my favorite part of staying in the recovery room. After waiting so long to see your baby, it’s finally time to spend time with him.
Skin to skin has many benefits, so many hospitals encourage all mothers to practice kangaroo care during recovery time. It can help your baby regulate body temperature and blood sugar, as well as facilitate bonding with your child.
Dads can have skin to skin time as well, and they should! Fathers don’t bond with their babies as much as their mothers do during pregnancy, so spending time right after birth doing skin to skin is a great way to encourage bonding.
You Breastfeed Your Baby
For me, this was the second-best part of being in the recovery room. I love it when I get to breastfeed my babies for the first time.
If you feel nervous about breastfeeding, now is the best time to talk to your nurses and have them help you learn how to improve your baby latch onto your breast. Your hospital might have lactation consultants on staff to come to help you breastfeed for the first time.
Remember, at first, you only make colostrum, but it’s like liquid gold. Colostrum is full of immune-boosting goodness that your baby needs right now. It might not feel as if your baby is getting anything, but she is. She’s getting all of the milk she needs. Her stomach is the size of marble right now.
You Receive Pain Medicine
While you had either an epidural or spinal block, you might need some pain medicine before you leave. You want to stay up on your pain medicine and don’t’ allow your discomfort to get too bad.
All hospitals give different medications, and if you plan to breastfeed your baby, be sure that whatever medicine they’re giving you is breastfeeding friendly.
When I’m in recovery, the nurses typically offer an IV dose of Dilaudid. It’s quite strong, but an hour or two after my c-sections, I start to feel discomfort. I want to be as pain-free as possible while still being conscious and aware of my baby.
Your nurses will also give you some stool softeners. This is going to be useful in the coming days, so take them diligently.
The Nurses Give You Water
You might feel parched after your c-sections, so now is the time to ask your nurses for some water. They might offer popsicles as well; my hospital does. It feels good to get something into your system as you wait to eat again after a c-section.
Don’t be afraid to ask for plenty of water. Fluids are a necessary part of your recovery, and you have a catheter in right now until you get up and walk in a few hours. You can drink continual water. It’s going to help encourage your breast milk supply to come in quickly and reduce constipation.
The Doctor Visits You
When you’re in the recovery room, you can expect your doctor to pop in and tell you congratulations. Now is a great time to ask questions. I always ask about when I can eat again because I cannot stand fasting of any sort. You might want to know how long you generally have to stay in the hospital or ask for a general recap of how the surgery went.
Family Can Visit, If You Want
Once the staff determines that you are recovering as they hoped, then they usually let your family visit now. Your partner can be with you the entire time as you enjoy your new baby, but visitors must be permitted back by you.
This is nice because you don’t have to feel any pressure to have visitors. Your partner can let your family members know that all is well, and you are resting with the baby.
I typically allow my parents and my husband’s parents to visit us in the recovery room. All hospitals have different policies, so be sure to ask. My hospital allows two visitors at a time, so they have to swap in and out.
If you end up spending several hours in your recovery room, it can be helpful to have a visitor or two. If you want to take a quick nap, someone can hold the baby for you, such as your dotting mother or your partner.
Your Nurses Get You Cleaned Up
Something I always liked about the recovery room is when the nurses help me get cleaned up a bit.
You’ll change robes into a new one. The other one might have some blood on it. If you want to put your contacts in rather than wearing glasses, now is the time to do so.
My nurses provide me with a basin of warm water and help me wipe down my arms and legs. Boy, it feels so good to get fresh and clean. They also bring over a toothbrush and toothpaste. I put my hair back up again and brush it. Just because our baby just arrived doesn’t mean that we don’t want to feel a bit more human.
Take Time to Rest in the Recovery Room
Most importantly, take this time to rest. Remember, you don’t need any visitors at this point, so if you want to take this time with your partner and your baby, do so. You only get this time with your baby once, and you’ll never get it back. This time is precious.
What happens in the recovery room after a c-section shouldn’t be stressful. It’s time to make sure that your body and baby are recovering well after surgery. If there is an issue, your nurses will be able to catch it quickly and address it before it becomes problematic.
Enjoy your time in your recovery room!
Hey, this is Linda. My biggest accomplishment in life is being a mother of four children. Their current ages range from almost ten years old down to 20 months old.
I’m passionate about writing parenting articles because I understand so well all of the problems and trials you face as a parent. From breastfeeding woes to budgeting problems and behavior problems, along with everything in between, chances are I’ve faced it over the last ten years. Read more about Linda here.