The healing process takes great care and patience, whether you have a c-section or vaginal birth. However, cesarean delivery includes not just the healing of your uterus but also that of the incision site.
A c-section is a major abdominal surgery that takes both time and effort from the woman to heal properly. If proper care is not maintained during recovery, wound complications can arise.
Overweight women find this especially true, as they often must deal with extra effort on how to keep c section incision dry when overweight.
Nearly 32 percent of births in the United States are completed via c-section.
There are many reasons for this method of delivery. Some women plan to have a c-section because their doctor will be out of town around their due dates. Scheduling the birth in advance frees them from the worry about a doctor they are unfamiliar with delivering their babies.
Other women have had complications in previous deliveries that necessitated a c-section and now have a doctor who will not deliver by any other method for safety.
And still, others end up having to have an emergency c-section after something goes wrong during labor or the late stages of pregnancy.
Whatever the reason for the procedure, it is still major surgery and should be regarded as such by everyone.
While they are routine and common, they still require great care and active attention during recovery, just like any other surgery.
Postpartum recovery from c section
Your c-section was a surgical procedure involving cutting through the abdominal wall and the uterus to get to your baby, which was then extracted through this incision site.
The c-section wound, or incision site, is typically stitched shut, resulting in a c-section scar that will take time to dry.
Just like women who have a vaginal delivery, there will still be vaginal bleeding. Care such as getting enough sleep and a fundal massage to help the uterus shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size is also part of postpartum recovery after a c-section.
Over eight weeks or so, you have to take great care to be sure that the c-section incision stays clean and is not put under too much pressure, stretching, or duress. You also have to keep your c-section incision dry.
C-section recovery for overweight women
Many overweight, obese, and morbidly obese women have what is commonly referred to as a belly apron. This apron belly hangs over the c-section wound and can create issues regarding recovery.
Overweight women are already more prone to infection due to skin barrier issues, extra fluids, and immune system fragility. Add to this the need to keep the c-section incision site dry, and you have your hands more than full.
The fatty tissue around the surgical wound can hold and seep more fluids, making it incredibly difficult to keep the site dry. There is also sweat and a moist environment due to overhanging skin folds.
How to keep c section incision dry when overweight
All body types go under the knife and deliver babies via c-sections. While they are usually considered safe, they must be handled with great care.
Keeping the incision dry when overweight takes a little more work, but there are some tricks to keeping the incision area dry so that the incision heals correctly and your apron belly won’t complicate matters.
1. Hair dryer on cold setting
This trick is excellent if you live in a moist or humid area or if you have trouble getting sufficiently dry after a shower.
Simply get your hair dryer and put it in a low and cool setting. Lift your mother’s apron, or the area of skin that is overhanging your c-section incision, and blow dry it until it is dried well.
Help from a family member or your spouse is one of the more practical tips that can be offered when it comes to this blow dryer hack. It can be challenging to see what you’re doing, hold everything in place, and use the hair dryer all at once.
2. Air dry when possible
If possible, air dry after a shower rather than using a towel on your incision area. The agitation that can occur by rubbing any sort of material across your surgical site can cause issues such as abdominal pain, extreme pain at the site, and the breaking of your stitches before they are ready to come out.
Getting dry this way may take longer, but it’s worth it to avoid painful skin damage.
3. Sanitary pads as a wound dressing
To keep excessive fluid from your incision, place the soft side of a sanitary napkin against the cesarean section site, securing the sticky part of the sanitary pad to the inside of your underwear. Be sure to change your pad often, so you don’t get infected.
4. Wear the right underwear
High-waisted underwear that is made of cotton is a great idea when trying to care for your c-section site properly. Wearing these underpants until your c-section incision is completely healed is the best idea.
Wound healing will go much more quickly and with less pain if you don’t expose it to painful rubbing by low-riding underpants for the first few weeks following your surgery.
Be sure to change your underwear daily and keep it as dry as possible.
5. Wear loose-fitting clothing when possible
Most women find it more comfortable to wear loose-fitting clothing after cesarean sections to avoid rubbing or friction on the wound.
House dresses, nightgowns, or even your husband’s sweatpants are a great choice.
A flowing sundress or loose-fitting top with loose pants is another excellent choice if it’s summertime.
C-section scar healing stages
There are generally three stages to the healing process for your c-section.
It is essential to understand these stages so that you know what to expect. It is crucial to understand how to keep a c-section incision dry when overweight, but it’s also important to understand what your incision area should look and feel like as it heals.
This is when things probably look the worst as your body heals. This stage occurs in the first week or so of your c-section, and it is typically when you notice things like worsening pain when you engage in any physical activity and need the most pain relief with either an ice pack or pain medication.
The bleeding of the area slows and stops, and the area is typically swollen, with the scar being red or pink.
This stage is usually about three or four weeks long, and the healing starts to gear up. New blood vessels begin to form, and more blood vessels mean more tissue.
Collagen also gathers at the site to start melding the skin’s edges back together.
During this time, you should make sure you are doing lots of walking and moving around, even though you may not always be comfortable. Walking can help prevent blood clots from forming, leading to serious complications and death.
Warning signs to look out for
If you have been keeping your c-section dry and notice pus or any bloody discharge at this stage of healing, or a foul odor coming from the incision, you need to seek the help of your doctor immediately. You could have an infection.
If you have noticed any extra fluids leaking into or near the site and are overweight, this is most likely excess fluid from fatty tissues and is generally harmless.
Keep the area dry, and clean yourself often with warm soapy water. If you notice any crust or pus at the incision site, carefully clean it with a cotton swab and hydrogen peroxide.
Many women look forward to this stage of the cesarean section healing when the scar and wound site flatten out and fade in color. This can take up to a year or more, but it can be achieved a little sooner with good care.
More tips for C-section moms
Regardless of your weight, it’s going to take time to heal. And you’ll still have to keep your c-section incision site dry.
Ensure you also get enough exercise, avoid strenuous activity that could cause trauma to your site, and stay hydrated.
Constipation is a common issue with c-section moms. Avoid constipation by getting plenty of fiber in your diet, and talk to your doctor if you have trouble moving your bowels.
Wear clothing that isn’t constricting or too tight, and keep the area as clean as possible. Abstain from sexual intercourse until your doctor has permitted you to avoid further stress on your incision.
Every birth plan demands care
Moms who are carrying extra weight often face more issues when it comes to recovering from birth. After all, you’ve just delivered a whole human being from your body. That can take a toll on anyone, regardless of body type.
However, overweight women often have issues with circulation, fluid retention, hypertension, and more.
Being careful, regardless of how you delivered your baby, is of the utmost importance. You need to be in the best health possible to truly enjoy that beautiful new baby you brought into the world!
Overweight and obese women deliver babies every day and go on to recover splendidly. Just like a woman of any size, as long as you’re careful to follow the directions given to you by your doctor, everything should be fine.
The tips and tricks in this article may make things just a little bit easier for you.
Every single body deserves to heal well. You don’t have to be slim to be a beautiful, capable, wonderful mother. Give yourself the best care you can because you deserve it.