Is Pain and Swelling Normal after a C-Section?

Whether your C-section was planned or unexpected, you knew that pain was going to be a part of the game. But you probably expected that pain to subside after you got home with your newborn. Now you’re experiencing pains and swelling. Is this normal?

Depending on how much time has passed since your surgery, yes, the pain may be normal.

Let’s take a closer look at the most common areas for pain and swelling to see the causes and to find out whether what you’re experiencing is normal.

[Read more about C-Section]

Back Pain after C-Section

Some women experience back pain after a Cesarean section. You’re probably all too familiar with this type of pain – most pregnant women deal with it at some point. But the spinal anesthesia used during the procedure presents a unique risk for pain after the surgery.

In fact, a 2009 study published in the Anesthesia and Critical Care journal found that the risk of developing back pain is near 40% for women who have a C-section.

There are two possible causes of your pain:

  • Post-dural puncture headache
  • Trauma

With the post-dural puncture headache, the cerebrospinal fluid leaks gradually and causes neck and head pain that worsens when standing or sitting. If this is the cause, your pain will disappear when you lay down.

Trauma to your ligaments, muscle, nerves or skin can also cause back pain.

When the pain is caused by trauma, it usually presents itself pretty early on after the surgery and tapers off in a few days. A post-dural puncture headache may not present itself until five days after the procedure, but still tapers off after a few days.

For some women, the pain will drag on for weeks.

Is Back Pain Normal?

Back pain isn’t unusual after a C-section, but not all pain is normal. Talk to your doctor about any pain you’re experiencing.

If your pain is accompanied by any of the following, see your doctor right away:

  • Fever
  • Discharge or redness at the insertion site
  • Pain turns to numbness or muscle weakness
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

What Can You Do About the Pain?

Depending on the cause and severity of the pain, your doctor may prescribe medication to provide you with relief.

Talk to your physician about any over the counter pain meds you want to take, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

[Read more about Back Pain]

Abdominal Pain after C-Section

Considering your doctor had to open up your midsection to deliver your baby, it’s no surprise that you may be experiencing some stomach pain after C-Section.

Stomach discomfort is extremely common after a Cesarean section, so there’s likely no reason to panic.

The pain may be caused by the incision itself, or from the trauma of the surgery.

Many women also experience digestive issues after the procedure. During surgery, the digestive system shuts down. It can take some time for your system to get back up and running as normal.

It’s common to experience pain in your midsection just after surgery, but what about abdominal pain years after C-Section?

It’s not uncommon for women to have pain years later either. This pain is typically caused by scar tissue that formed after the procedure, and is extremely common in women who have to be reopened because of complications.

[Read more about Scar Tissue]

Is Abdominal Pain Normal?

Abdominal pain can be normal after a Cesarean section. But depending on the timing of the pain, it may also be a sign of something more serious.

Call your doctor if the pain is severe or gets progressively worse as time goes on.

What Can You Do About the Pain?

The pain should subside on its own in a few days or weeks, but in the meantime, you can take doctor-approved pain meds to ease your discomfort.

Nerve Pain after C-Section

Nerve pain is not quite as common as abdominal or back pain after a C-section, but it is possible.

It’s impossible for surgeons to perform this procedure without cutting nerves. Typically, nerves heal with your skin, but in some women, the nerves never heal after being cut.

When this happens, this is called nerve damage.

Nerve damage may only affect a small part of the body, or it may affect a large part of the body. Sometimes it only lasts a few weeks or months. In other case, the damage is permanent.

You may experience:

  • Pain in your bones, muscles or skin
  • Numbness in your skin
  • Difficulty controlling your muscles

Is Nerve Pain Normal?

Nerve pain is not a common side effect of a C-section. If you’re experiencing this type of pain, see your doctor right away.

He or she should be able to determine whether the pain is temporary or permanent.

What Can You Do About the Pain?

Nerve pain can be difficult to manage, but your doctor can prescribe medication to provide you with relief.

In some cases, additional surgeries may be required to fix the issue.

Swollen Legs after C-section

Some women will experience swelling in the legs after a C-section. The procedure itself increases your risk of developing a blood clot in one of the veins of your legs, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis.

If left untreated, a blood clot may travel into your lungs, block your arteries and eventually lead to death.

Some women only experience swelling, while others may also experience warmth, tenderness and discoloration in the legs.

Lack of physical activity, which is common after surgery, can increase your risk of blood clots.

If you remember, the nurses probably made you get up and walk around shortly after your procedure. This movement helps get your systems back up and running, but it also helps restore circulation and prevent blood clots.

Is Swelling in the Legs Normal after a C-Section?

It can be. Some women experience swelling after a C-section, and for some, the swelling is pretty severe. Still, it’s important to talk to your doctor right away if you experience any kind of swelling to rule out anything serious.

What Can You Do About It?

To help prevent swelling, your doctor may have you wear special boots while you’re in the hospital. These boots, called pneumatic boots, are worn over pressure stockings or elastic wraps to help promote healthy circulation. They constrict and release to push blood up the legs and help prevent blood clots.

Swollen Feet after C-Section

You’ve gotten so used to your feet swelling during pregnancy, you probably didn’t even think twice about it when it happened after your C-section.

And in most cases, there’s no cause for concern if your feet swell after the procedure. It can take some time for the body to return to normal after giving birth, so your feet may still be swollen for the same reason they were swollen during pregnancy: hormones.

During pregnancy, the body produces an abundance of progesterone, which causes the body to absorb more salt and retain water. That extra fluid puts pressure on the lower body and winds up accumulating in the hands and feet. It can take some time for the body to absorb those fluids, so your feet may stay swollen for a while after the procedure.

Some women also experience swelling because of IV fluids. These fluids are given during the procedure to maintain the body’s electrolyte and fluid balance.

Is It Normal for Feet to Swell after a C-Section?

Yes, it’s perfectly normal. But if your swelling feels unusual or you feel like something is off, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it.

What Can You Do About It?

Keeping your feet elevated and staying active can help keep the swelling down. But try not to overdo it when it comes to exercise. Listen to your doctor and make sure that you only exercise when you’re given the green light to do so.

You can also try soaking your feet in an epsom salt bath to alleviate swelling and help promote better circulation.

Pain and swelling can be normal after a C-section delivery. But do keep in touch with your doctor and seek medical attention if you experience severe pain, fever and other concerning symptoms.