What to Expect When Recovering From a C-section

by Scary Mommy Team
Originally Published: 

Having a C-section can be an overwhelming experience for new moms—and one, quite frankly, for which very few expectant mothers are fully prepared. Along with a new baby, moms are also dealing with a major surgery, and each person will have a unique experience. However, even when a C-section is planned—and that’s definitely not always the case—too few moms do the research on what recovery may be like when they’re back at home and how their pain management choices can impact returning to “normal” activities.

While expectant moms may be anticipating a painful recovery from a C-section, it’s important to know that there are effective methods that can help women get back to “normal” daily living quickly. These “enhanced recovery” approaches include using non-opioid pain management options that can limit exposure to opioids (“narcotics”), which have historically been used to manage pain after a C-section, as well as potentially minimize risks and side effects that come with these medications.

Here are a few things expectant moms should discuss with your OB/GYN prior to delivery.

Ask About Enhanced Recovery Programs

After delivery, moms are navigating a new normal when they return home with their newborn. Since C-section deliveries are considered a surgery, it may take some time to feel completely back to yourself. Speak with your health care team prior to delivery, and in the days following your C-section, on what can be done to ensure a more comfortable —and faster—recovery. Enhanced recovery programs include a lot of elements to better support returning back to “normal” after surgery, including preparing for surgery, pain relief options, diet, and goals for returning to normal function (like walking).

Discuss When You Can Go Home

Historically, patients who deliver via C-section expect at least a four-day hospital stay. However, with the enhanced recovery programs and effective pain management strategies available today, many patients are able to get back home sooner than previously thought. It’s important to have a conversation with your doctor about what you can expect before and after delivery to ensure you’re fully prepared while you are in the hospital and when you are back home with your family.

Have a Pain Management Plan

It is vital for moms-to-be to have a conversation with their doctor on how pain will be controlled not only during labor, but in the days after delivery. This is not a “wait and see” situation—your pain needs to be well-managed in order to begin the recovery process, including walking around and caring for your newborn. While expectant moms may be anxious to return home and get into a daily routine with their baby, research shows women are rarely discussing pain management with their doctor before delivery despite it being one of the most important aspects of their recovery. In addition, more than half of patients who have a C-section are prescribed an opioid to manage their pain despite the unwanted side effects that these medications may cause, such as nausea, vomiting and constipation, drowsiness or confusion. Fortunately, there are effective non-opioid options available today that can help manage pain in the days following C-section delivery with fewer or no prescription opioids. In addition to providing optimal pain control (a key component to enhanced recovery), these alternatives help women avoid opioid risks including dependence and addiction, as well as the potential for your prescribed pain medication to get into the hands of someone for whom they were not intended.

With C-sections being one of the most common major surgeries in the United States, women should feel empowered to ask their OB/GYN about options to manage their pain so they’re prepared when their little one arrives. So, when you formulate your plan (you’re working on it, right?) ask your doctor about long-lasting non-opioid options like EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension). Your doctor injects EXPAREL® into your abdominal area at the end of your C-section to e­ffectively manage pain the first few days after surgery while reducing or potentially eliminating the need for opioids during the postsurgical recovery period.*

At the end of the day, the truest thing about recovering from a C-section is that you can and will do it. Pain is different for everyone, and it’s important to know how yours will be managed. Whether your C-section is planned or unplanned, empower yourself to have a conversation about enhanced recovery and your pain management plan well before your due date, including what opioid alternatives are available, such as EXPAREL.

Talk with your doctor about the full spectrum of pain management options. And ask about EXPAREL.

EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension) is indicated for single-dose infiltration in patients aged 6 years and older to produce postsurgical local analgesia and in adults as an interscalene brachial plexus nerve block to produce postsurgical regional analgesia. Safety and efficacy have not been established in other nerve blocks.

Important Safety Information

EXPAREL should not be used in obstetrical paracervical block anesthesia.

In studies in adults where EXPAREL was injected into a wound, the most common side effects were nausea, constipation, and vomiting.

In studies in adults where EXPAREL was injected near a nerve, the most common side effects were nausea, fever, and constipation.

In the study where EXPAREL was given to children, the most common side effects were nausea, vomiting, constipation, low blood pressure, low number of red blood cells, muscle twitching, blurred vision, itching, and rapid heartbeat.

EXPAREL can cause a temporary loss of feeling and/or loss of muscle movement. How much and how long the loss of feeling and/or muscle movement depends on where and how much of EXPAREL was injected and may last for up to 5 days.

EXPAREL is not recommended to be used in patients younger than 6 years old for injection into the wound, for patients younger than 18 years old for injection near a nerve, and/or in pregnant women.

Tell your health care provider if you or your child has liver disease, since this may affect how the active ingredient (bupivacaine) in EXPAREL is eliminated from the body.

EXPAREL should not be injected into the spine, joints, or veins.

The active ingredient in EXPAREL can affect the nervous system and the cardiovascular system; may cause an allergic reaction; may cause damage if injected into the joints; and can cause a rare blood disorder.

*The clinical benefit of the decrease in opioid consumption was not demonstrated in the pivotal trials.

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