Recovering From C-Section Vs Vaginal Delivery

On paper, childbirth may seem like a simple enough process. A woman gets pregnant, the baby grows in the womb for 9 months, and out comes the baby. It seems so simple…

However, not only does pregnancy bring about changes to a woman’s body, physically, mentally, and psychologically, the birthing process that comes after makes a painful, albeit fulfilling to some, experience. Now, there are two ways to give birth, namely through a C-section or vaginal delivery. The act of giving birth can be an arduous journey, and sometimes, it is not up to the mother to decide which method of childbirth she would prefer as complications may arise. In the event of an emergency, it would be up to the doctor to choose the best route for both mother and baby.

C-section Vs Vaginal Delivery

The difference between a C-section and a vaginal delivery is pretty straightforward. 

A C-section, or Caesarean section, is a surgical procedure where an incision is made to the uterus and abdominal wall, roughly 10 centimetres, for the baby to be born after the mother has been administered anaesthetic. It typically takes between 30 minutes to an hour. After the baby has been lifted from the uterus, the umbilical cord is cut, and the placenta is removed. Then, the incision is closed with sutures or stitches, and a dressing is placed on the wound.

As for vaginal delivery, otherwise known as vaginal birth, it usually takes a longer duration, especially for first-time mothers, as a mother’s uterus has to be dilated to a certain extent to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal, and the duration varies with each woman. It could be done with or without anaesthetic, the decision lying with the mother. But it can be more difficult for her to push her baby out with anaesthetic as she would not feel anything. Sometimes, labour would need to be induced should the circumstances require it. For instance, when it is deemed safer for the baby to be delivered rather than to remain in utero and increases the risk of fetal compromise or stillbirth. 

How does recovery differ between C-section and vaginal delivery?

Neither is better than the other, as both are miraculous processes that mothers go through to bring life to this world. As unpredictable as it is, one thing’s for sure, though, is that the recovery or confinement period comes after childbirth. This is when mothers are advised to rest to recuperate and regain their health. 

While there are exceptions, vaginal delivery is usually more accessible on the body than C-sections, as the latter is surgery after all. A mother having gone through a C-section would be required to remain at the hospital for a longer time, for 2-4 days, as compared to 1-2 days with vaginal delivery due to differing postpartum side effects.

For vaginal delivery, the side effects include vaginal bleeding, cramping, swelling, and soreness. In addition, a common occurrence during vaginal delivery is a perineal tear or vaginal tear, which is an injury around the vagina and rectum. Stitches might be necessary depending on the degree of the tear. With proper medication and care, it could heal between 7 and 10 days, although the soreness may last longer, up to a few weeks. A mother may find it painful to urinate and have pain in the lower back. It is also not unusual to have a urinary tract infection (UTI) after childbirth. And, of course, sitting down would not be comfortable.

As for C-sections, the side effects include cramping, bleeding, discharge, nausea, coughing, sneezing, and even pain when doing the slightest action that requires muscle movement, like laughing. After the anaesthetic has worn off and a mother is well enough, she would be prompted to try walking around to prevent fluid buildup, boost blood circulation, and aid digestion. The pain from the surgery would last quite some time, but the confinement period is usually sufficient for recovery. During the first few weeks, the wound or scar could be itchy, but this is nothing to worry about as it is part of the healing process.

Due to the different circumstances faced by different moms, it is hard to give the same guidelines for everyone to follow. Regardless, there are always some good rules of thumb that can benefit every mom if followed. Find out what they are below:

Do not strain yourself in any situation

…in any situation! Lifting items, going number 1 or number 2, trying to exercise – no matter what you do, try not to put too much pressure on yourself.

Bowel movements can be difficult a few days after childbirth, and you may find that the urge to walk feels different from before birth. The first postpartum stool in the few days immediately after delivery can be sensitive, and haemorrhoids healed from an episiotomy or sore muscles can make the process painful.    

After childbirth, you begin to expel the superficial mucous membranes that line your uterus during pregnancy. Blood and tissue that lines the uterus during pregnancy will be shed during the birth of your baby. 

Take care of your gut health to ensure soft stool.

You may be afraid to damage the stings or fear that defecation will cause more pain in the area. This is especially true if you have been stitched during an episiotomy, which involves surgical incisions in the vagina or anus to widen the vaginal opening during childbirth or tear the area after delivery.    

It is normal not to open the intestine a few days after birth because the bowel movement must remain soft and easy to carry out so that the stretched muscles of the sewn perineum can heal. If your first bowel movement takes some time after birth, try not to strain or force it, which can upset the perineum or the C-section scar. 

Following a balanced diet can largely contribute to better gut health. Opt for fibre-rich foods to promote healthy bowel movement. There are some confinement herbal drinks and tonics you could drink as well to promote better circulation, but in all cases, moderation is key.   

If you want to exercise, start small

Pregnancy, labour, and vaginal birth stretch and injure the pelvic floor muscles that support the uterus, bladder, and rectum. Occasional contractions (so-called postnatal pain) can occur in the first few days after delivery.

This may cause a prolapsed uterus, whereby your womb could be slightly out of place due to the pressure you put on it during birth. If the condition is not too severe, you could try some exercises, but remember the first point: do not strain yourself too much. Start with what you can handle without issues.    

Reach out for help

If your perineum (the skin area between the vagina and the anus) has been rubbed by your doctor, it may have been torn and sutured during pregnancy, which can make it painful to sit or walk for a while after healing. If you are in more pain, your doctor may perform an episiotomy (a small incision that reduces the risk of tearing and creates more space for the baby). If you experience pain while defecating or feel swelling in the anus, you may have swelling in the veins of your anus or lower rectum (haemorrhoids).     It is important to seek help if your birth is stressful, painful, or traumatising. Make sure to stay close to your doctor or ob-gyn and direct your questions about childbirth to them. 

Approximately 10 to 15% of women are affected by depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period, which begins between one to three weeks after birth and one year later. Baby blues can be caused by hormone changes, fatigue, pain from stings or wounds, full breasts that feel flat, and excitement after birth. Remember that your body is still adjusting to the changes that occur after birth, so you know that it is normal to have these kinds of feelings.    

Take your time to heal

This is the most important step of all. Your body needs time to heal, and that time may be longer than expected. Your body took several months to prepare for the birth and thus will take a long time to recover as well. If you have long-term complications that can allow your body to heal for up to six weeks, you should expect to stay hospitalised for three to four days after giving birth. If you have had a caesarean, a tear, a vaginal delivery or an episiotomy, you can be sore for weeks. 

Whether it is after a C-section or vaginal delivery, some will opt to go through confinement at home with family, while some will opt to be in the care of a confinement centre. If you don’t have many family members around, you can opt for a nanny service like what we provide as a confinement nanny agency in Singapore. You can opt for day time confinement nanny or full-time nanny. 

At PEM, our confinement nanny can serve you day and night, including helping to take over the nighttime feeding so that you and your spouse can get ample rest and sleep all night long. Either way, it would be a good idea to check out any confinement nanny reviews before making your decision. And we know that the nanny Singapore price also plays a big role in the decision-making process.

Confinement Nanny

Confinement Nanny

But the most important thing is the nutrition you get during this period. Having confinement meals that are prepared with nourishing ingredients and confinement herbs can be a soothing, nutritious experience. Here at PEM Confinement Nanny Agency, we not only provide nanny and confinement services but also offer confinement herb tonic and bath packages to help mothers with postpartum recovery. Go on and take a look at our available services. You’ll be spoiled for choice!