Taking a bath after a caesarean section usually feels like a relaxing trip to heaven. However, you do have to wait for the incision to start to heal before you can indulge in a long soak.
Normally, doctors advise you to wait seven to ten days before bathing after a c-section. Some physicians even say to wait two weeks to three weeks until the incision is healed sufficiently before exposing it to water.
Caesarean Sections are a Major Surgical Procedure
In 2005, 30 percent of all pregnancies ended in a caesarian section and that number has steadily increased with each passing year. One in three women will give birth via a caesarean section.
Although c-sections are becoming more commonplace, they are still a major surgical procedure that entails a deep abdominal incision. Most women will be in the operating room for one to two hours.
Process of a Caesarean Section
A horizontal incision is made in the mother’s lower abdomen above the pelvic bone. In very rare cases, some women may have a vertical incision. After incising the abdomen, the uterus is also opened with a second incision and the baby is removed.
The umbilical cord is cut and the placenta is also extracted from the uterus. Dissolvable stitches are used to close up the uterus. Staples, or rarely stitches or surgical glue, are implemented to close up the abdominal incision.
The stitches or staples are usually removed before you leave the hospital and small adhesive strips are placed over the incision.
What to Expect After a Caesarean
Most women will remain in the hospital for two to four days after a caesarian. Typically, a woman will feel sore and experience varying levels of pain following a c-section.
Physicians normally prescribe pain medication to relieve the woman’s discomfort. Many women will continue to experience vaginal bleeding for four to six weeks following the birth. Full recovery from a c-section can take six to eight weeks.
Showering After a Caesarean Section
After a normal and uncomplicated c-section, you can usually take a shower in a day or two. However, it is always advised that you use lukewarm water and avoid taking a hot shower.
The incision can be cleaned with regular soap and water, according to MedlinePlus:
- Avoid vigorously scrubbing the incision.
- Keep the area clean with soap and water to aid the healing process and reduce scarring.
- Pat the area gently dry with a clean towel after showering.
In the hospital, before you are released to go home with your baby, Steri-strips are applied to the c-section incision after the staples or stitches have been removed. The strips usually start to fall off within ten days.
If you have steri-strips on your incision, avoid rubbing them when you take a shower and when you are drying off with a towel. Pat the incisions and strips dry with a towel. The steri-strips have normally fallen off by the time your physician allows you to take a bath.
Hemorrhoids and Bathing After a Caesarean
During the final trimester of pregnancy, many women start to suffer from the discomfort of hemorrhoids. After delivery, the hemorrhoids are not normally relieved immediately. Many women find comfort from the pain of hemorrhoids by taking a warm bath.
After a c-section, most physicians will allow a woman to take a warm bath as long as it is shallow and does not get her incision wet. The warm water, often mixed with Epsom salts, helps relieve the hemorrhoids but does not harm the incision if it does not get onto the surgical site.
Ideally, you should place no more than four or five inches of water into the tub to soak your backside, but take great care that the water does not inadvertently flow over your abdomen and the incision.
Taking a Bath After a C-Section
When the magical moment arrives that you can again safely take a full-body bath after a c-section, you will want to take care getting in and out of the bathtub.
Many women continue to feel discomfort for four to six weeks after a caesarean so getting down into and up out of a bathtub can be difficult.
- Take Your Time: You will want to take your time and try not to twist or stretch your stomach muscles excessively as you sit down and get up from the tub’s low position.
- Take Only a Short Bath: You should also avoid soaking for a long period of time the first few times you take a bath.
- Use Lukewarm Water: Use only lukewarm water.
- No Bath Oils or Bubble Bath: You may also want to abstain from using bath oils or bubble bath so you don’t inadvertently irritate your healing incision.
Always Consult With Your Physician
You should always consult with your physician and follow his advice about taking a bath after a caesarian. Many physicians advice waiting a week but some doctors want their patients to wait three weeks before exposing the incision to prolonged warm water.
Often the length of time before you can take a bath is determined by how well your incision is healing and if you have experienced any problems with infections or tearing.
What the Experts Say
“There are seven layers of tissue that are disturbed—cut or moved—during the C-section and your body needs to recover those and repair in order from the bottom to the top,” said Mary Beth Knight, a fitness expert in Cincinnati, Ohio and author of Strategies for the C-section Mom: A Complete Fitness, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Guide.
“One tip to reduce scarring immediately after surgery is to start with compressions, such as wearing Spanx or Steri-Strips, which will prevent worsening of the scar formation. Verify with your OB-GYN that this will not interfere with anything or cause further medical concerns. It is also important to keep the area covered to avoid infection. Excellent post-operative care after surgery is critical and will help prevent severe hypertrophic scar formation,” says Dr. Jill Waibel, scar expert, and owner of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute.
“Typically women stay in the hospital three to four days after C-section delivery as compared to one to two days after a vaginal delivery. The rest of the recovery mimics this elongated pattern as well,” according to Noel Strong, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Having a caesarian section is undergoing major abdominal surgery. You will require a recovery time before you can resume your normal activities. Part of the recovery process includes incision care to prevent infections and minimize scarring. You can shower a day or two after surgery, but you will have to wait for a full body bathtub soak.