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After a Cesarean

Full recovery after a cesarean can take time. It’s important to take care of yourself—both for your own sake and because your new baby needs you.

Incision Care

  • You will probably be able to shower and pat the incision dry.

  • Watch your incision for signs of infection, such as increasing redness or drainage.

  • For ease of movement, hold a pillow against the incision when you get up from a lying or sitting position, and when you laugh or cough.

  • Avoid heavy lifting—nothing heavier than your baby until your doctor instructs you otherwise.

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • A fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C or higher)

  • Redness, pain, or discharge at the incision site that gets worse

  • Repeated clots the size of a quarter or larger, passing from your vagina

  • Vaginal bleeding that requires a new sanitary pad every hour

  • Severe pain in your abdomen

  • No bowel movement within one week after the birth of your baby

How to Hold Your Breastfeeding Baby

In the cradle hold, the baby’s head and neck are supported by the crook of your arm.
In the cross-cradle hold, the baby’s head and neck are supported by one hand.

Cradle Hold

The cradle hold is the most common breastfeeding position. To use this hold:

  • Sit upright, making sure you have back support. Raise your baby to breast height. Use pillows or a chair with armrests.

  • Keep your knees level with your hips. Put a stool or pillow under your feet if needed.

  • Cradle your baby. Make sure your baby’s back and bottom are well supported. Also, make sure your baby’s ears, shoulders, and hips are in line.

  • Rest your baby’s head in the crook of your arm (cradle hold). Or support your baby’s head with one of your hands (cross-cradle hold). Either way, you’ll have one free hand to hold the breast or caress your baby.   

When side-lying, use your hands to support and cuddle your baby.

Side-Lying Hold

This is a good hold for breastfeeding in bed. It’s also helpful if you’re recovering from a cesarean birth. To use this hold:

  • Stretch out on your side with your baby tummy-to-tummy with you. Use pillows to support your head, neck, and back.

  • Support your baby’s head, neck, and back with your hand.

  • To switch breasts, gather your baby close to your chest. Then roll onto your other side to feed from the other breast.

Online Medical Reviewer: Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 6/28/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.