After any birth, but particularly after surgery, you are at risk for complications. This can include allergic reactions, infection, pain that isn’t handled well at home, and other issues. However, after giving birth to your baby by cesarean section (c-section), there are a couple of specific warning signs that you need to be watching for that may indicate a problem that requires assistance from your doctor.
If you see any of the following, be sure to contact your doctor or midwife:
You Have a Fever After a C-Section
While it can be normal to run a temperature slightly higher than average, most doctors and midwives want you to call if you have a fever after a c-section of 101 degrees F or if you have a low-grade fever that lasts more than 24 hours. This may be a sign of an infection. This could be an infection of your uterus or in your breasts, either way, you will want to be seen and treated right away to prevent the infection from spreading and from making your incredibly ill.
Your Incision is Draining
Sometimes your incision will drain blood or pus. You should always have this looked at, while some discharge may be normal after surgery, let your practitioners decide what that is for you. While you are in the hospital, be sure to ask the nurses who care for you about what you should see and when.
This can help you have better guidance when you go home.
Pain That Gets Worse or Never Goes Away
Pain is a part of the recovery from surgery, but your pain will be treated. If you have pain in your incision or anywhere that never quite goes away or doesn’t get better as time goes on, be sure to see your doctor.
If the pain is increasing, despite pain medications, call immediately. If you are still in the hospital, be sure to talk to the nurse on call, they can help you stay on top of your pain. There are multiple ways to deal with the pain, not all of which involve medications. Medications given to breastfeeding mothers are safe to take while nursing. Just be sure that everyone knows you intend to breastfeed.
You may be a bit sore and find it hard, at first, to take deep breaths, but should this remain a problem or become worse, it’s important to call. You are at a greater risk for some breathing difficulties after a surgical birth. Your nurse or doctor may have you do special breathing exercises to help you after birth. If you have problems breathing after your leave the hospital, you need to call immediately and consider calling 911 for assistance.
Bleeding from the vagina is normal after a c-section. This is coming from where the placenta was attached to your uterus, all moms have to let that site heal. However, there such a thing as too much bleeding. If you soak a pad every hour for two hours, if you have no bleeding or if your bleeding never begins to diminish, you need to be seen.
Something That Concerns You
This list is not the end all, be all list – it’s just a small set of reminders. If you have any other symptoms that concern you, call your practitioner. That is what they are there for and are willing to help you. Do not wait until your next appointment – call right away.
It is important to remember that small problems can quickly become larger if not attended to right away. If you call when something is a small problem you can often prevent larger problems.
Larger problems after major surgery can include needing to be readmitted to the hospital. This is something you probably would prefer not to do if you could avoid it. If calling really bothers you, try to call the hospital where you had your baby and see if they had a nurse answer line. You could also call and leave a message for the nurses during business hours.