By NUH Women’s Centre
How long should mothers rest for after a Caesarean birth? Why is such rest needed?
Ample rest after a Caesarean birth is important to allow the wound to heal. For the first 12 to 24 hours after the surgery, the mother will usually be required to rest in bed. The mother will be given strong pain killers for pain relief. She will be administered a drip to keep her hydrated, and a urinary catheter to keep her bladder empty.
The mother may also be given special stockings for the legs to prevent development of deep venous thrombosis (blood clots that forms in the veins deep in the body, also known as DVT) in the legs. She will be allowed to eat and drink after the operation if her condition is stable. After the initial 24 hours, the mother is usually encouraged to move around. Moving about is important to reduce the risks of DVT. The length of stay in the hospital is usually between three to four days. However, recovery usually takes at least six weeks.
What precautions can mothers take after a Caesarean birth?
Caesarean birth is generally very well-tolerated, and most mothers recover and breastfeed within a few days. Sometimes, complications can occur. It is important to report excessive vaginal bleeding or lower abdominal discomfort during the recovery period. This can mean an infection had taken place and antibiotics are needed for treatment.
It is also important to report any urinary symptoms.
Because of the risks of DVT and blood clots in the lungs, it is important to report any calf tenderness, shortness of breath or cough. Exercise and sexual intercourse should not resume until the mother fully recovers. It is also advisable not to drive until six weeks later. Driving safely requires the ability to do an immediate brake in case of an emergency, and the wound needs to be fully healed before doing so.
Has there been an increase in the number of Caesarean births in the recent years?
Statistics from the Ministry of Health revealed that there is an increase in the number of Caesarean births in Singapore. For the period of 2001 to 2003, 30.5% of deliveries were Caesarean births. Comparatively, the average caesarean section rate twenty years ago was 20%.
The increasing trend for Caesarean births is also seen in other Western developed countries. There are many possible reasons for this. Women delaying childbirth and having fewer children, variations in clinical practice, organisational factors (such as provision of one-to-one support in labour, women's choices about childbirth) are all important factors.
Why do mothers request for Caesarean births?
It is possible that some mothers will request for planned Caesarean births without medical indications (also termed as maternal requests). Maternal request and specific reasons for the request should be discussed with the Obstetrician. The overall benefits and risks of Caesarean births, compared with vaginal births, should also be talked about. If a pregnant woman requests to undergo a Caesarean birth because she has a fear for childbirth, she should be offered counseling to help her address her fears.
All pregnant women without any medical reasons for Caesarean deliveries should be strongly encouraged to have a vaginal birth. It is recommended that Caesarean births should only be reserved for expectant mothers with medical reasons.
For more information, you may contact the Women's Clinic at (65) 6772 2255 / 2277, or email us at Womens_Clinic@nuhs.edu.sg.
This featured article is contributed by the NUH Women’s Centre, National University Hospital. Please visit www.nuhgynae.com.sg to read more.