There is so much to know once you go home from the hospital after your c-section. While there, you had a team of medical professionals taking care of you. They cleaned your incision and checked you over to make sure they didn’t spot any signs of infection.
But they can’t keep you in the hospital forever, not that you really wanted to be there. Of course not! You want to get home to your bed, shower, and kitchen, all the things that make it feel like home. I get it. Even I was delighted to get back to our little Chinese apartment in China, even if it meant my husband’s parents were there.
As you heal on the inside, though, you have to work on healing your outside, which is why keeping an eye on that c-section incision is so important. You need to clean it properly and watch for any signs of trouble.
How to Clean and Care for Your C-Section Incision?
Whether you planned all along for a c-section or you had to have an emergency c-section, caring for your incision after you get home is important. Here are some tips for safer and smoother healing in the coming weeks.
- Make sure you clean it each day
This area is going to be tender for a while, but that’s normal. You’ll want to use a gentle touch as you care for a c-section incision. The best way is in the shower. You should let mild soap and water run down the area. If you’re not comfortable taking a full-on shower, you can cloth-wash yourself, especially in the incision area.
I have some things you should NOT do though: 😀
- Don’t scrub! Just pat it gently!
- No soaking it as in a tub or anything!
- Don’t use hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or rubbing alcohol. It can slow the healing of the incision area.
You can let your incision air-dry or pat it dry using a clean, dry towel. Then reapply your protective dressing. That bandage should be changed once per day at minimum, more if it becomes dirty or wet. Your doctor should let you know when it’s ok to stop covering it.
As for how to care for a c-section glue incision, there are a few more things to note. It would be best if you don’t try to wash glue or those strips off. It’s ok to shower and gently pat the area. This will come off in roughly a week, though if they’re still there 10 days later or longer, you can ask your doctor if you can remove them.
- Dress comfortably
Now is definitely the time to embrace cozy clothing. Please don’t wear anything tight as it can rub your incision the wrong way. Loose-fitting clothes are best because they won’t rub plus; they will allow air into your incision area, helping it heal.
- No exercising
Exercise isn’t allowed until your doctor gives you the all-clear at your postpartum checkup. With a c-section incision too, you don’t want sweat getting in there to irritate it further.
- Use heat and pain relievers
A little warming heat applied to your abdomen can really ease the pain. Use a heating pad for about 15 minutes at a time. You can also take OTC pain meds recommended by your doctor. He or she may even give you a prescription pain reliever if your pain is still severe.
- Don’t skip that appointment
When your doctor schedules you for that postpartum appointment, don’t miss it. They will check to make sure you’re healing properly, both inside and out.
In the meantime, you should know what to look for to spot possible signs of infection. If you notice anything like the following listed below, contact your doctor or hospital immediately:
- Pus or drainage seeping from the incision
- Increase in pain
- Numbness is Normal
Many moms feel concerned because it feels numb around the incision. This, too, is normal, though weird. It should get better in a few weeks (I remember both times mine did). If not, you may have an injury to a peripheral nerve. Always discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
If you do have any nerve damage, it usually improves over the next few months. There are also injections and physical therapy you can use, though surgery may be required in rare circumstances.
Minimizing Scarring of C-Section Incision
I was lucky that both times, my scar healed so well, you can’t even see it now. There is no way to predict how a scar will heal, though. Some moms will get keloids, a thick and raised scar, while others will be like me with minimal scarring.
Fortunately, if you feel self-conscious about your scar, most of them will fall below a bikini line, keeping them hidden from view except for when you do the deed with your husband.
Should you find yourself with a visible line that you want to go, you can look to a few things:
- Silicone – In the form of sheets or gel, it can help strengthen and restore connective tissues. It also softens, flattens, and reduces pain from scars.
- Massage – You can regularly apply self-massage techniques to your scar after it heals. This boosts blood flow, which promoted cellular growth.
- Laser – Using laser therapy may be a last-ditch effort to help your scar vanish away. This should be done after your incision heals.
- Steroid injections – Another option should nothing else help is to use steroid injections, which will lower your inflammation and pain and flatten your scars. Though you will need to do this multiple times per month to keep up the results.
There are even ways to open and reseal the scar to remove the damaged skin and diminish its appearance, though I don’t recommend you do this until you are sure you are done having babies.
Don’t be upset with your scar. You have done something amazing. And it will heal, and should you not be satisfied with the way it looks; you CAN do something about it. Focus on your health and your sweet baby first and foremost, and you can handle this tiny problem down the road.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.