Recovering after your caesarean birth

Planned (elective) caesarean birth

After your caesarean birth, you stay at the hospital birth centre for 2 to 4 hours. During this time, we help you with feeding your baby and having skin-to-skin contact with them. Our aim is to make sure that you and your baby keep well.

We then move you to the postnatal (after birth) ward. You can go home after 1 night if you and your baby are both well.

This guidance is intended to help you recover from your operation and become independent again as soon as possible.

Movement after surgery

We aim to help you get out of bed and moving about 6 to 8 hours after your surgery. By this time, you should have recovered the feeling in your legs after the anaesthetic.

It can be uncomfortable when you first get out of bed. We give you painkillers before you try to do this.

When getting out of bed:


  • roll onto your side
  • use your arms to help push your body up from a lying to sitting position
  • take the time to straighten your body
  • stand tall with your back straight and your head raised

The women’s services physiotherapy team see you before you leave hospital. They talk to you about exercising after childbirth.

You can find more information about suitable exercises at: 

Eating and drinking

You can start to drink water as soon as you feel thirsty after the surgery. If this does not make you feel sick, you can then have a cup of tea or coffee.

You can usually have a light meal about 2 hours after coming out of the operating theatre. It's important not to eat a lot too soon after having your baby. Your bowel needs time to recover after the birth.


We give you regular painkillers after your surgery. As these tablets rarely have side effects, we give them without you needing to ask. If you need stronger painkillers, please ask your midwife.

If you take regular painkillers, this will allow you to care for yourself and your baby as soon as possible. 

Please make sure that you have simple painkillers  (paracetamol and ibuprofen) at home ready for when you leave hospital. We do not give you these medicines. But if you cannot take ibuprofen, we give you another suitable medicine.

Preventing blood clots

A caesarean birth increases the risk of getting a blood clot in your legs. This is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Moving around soon after your operation can help to prevent DVT.

If we think that you have a higher chance of getting DVT, we will prescribe an injection of a medicine called heparin. We show you how to give this injection to yourself. You need to have an injection 1 time each day for 10 days (or 6 weeks).

We give you a full supply of heparin injections when you leave hospital.

Wound care

After your caesarean birth, we close your wound with dissolvable stitches. The dressing covering the wound stays in place for 5 days.

While your wound dressing is on, you can have a bath or shower and move freely. Your community midwife removes the dressing.

When your wound dressing is removed, try to wear underwear that sits above your scar. This avoids the underwear rubbing against the scar and causing unnecessary pain. You can have a bath or shower as usual.

It is common for your wound to be slightly red and feel uncomfortable for 1 to 2 weeks. The redness may be harder to see on brown and black skin.

Contact your midwife, GP or the maternity assessment unit at the hospital birth centre immediately if:

  • the wound becomes more red, painful and swollen
  • foul-smelling fluid leaks from the wound
  • you notice fresh bleeding from the wound
  • the wound starts to open

Resource number: 3638/VER6
Last reviewed: October 2022 
Next review: October 2025

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