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Narrator: Moments ago, Lori gave birth by c-section to her second child, 9 pound, 1 ounce Ryan James, at Paoli Hospital in Pennsylvania.
Nurse: How are you feeling, Lori?
Lori: Uh, like I had a baby – just a little shaky.
Narrator: Feeling your body shiver or shake is one of many common reactions to labor and birth. The pain medication you got during your c-section will wear off in a little while, at which point your doctor will give you something more.
Dr. Radhi Kakarla is Lori's obstetrician.
Doctor: I tell our patients that it is a major abdominal surgery, and it can take about two weeks to feel about 75 percent of what they normally feel, and it can take a full six to eight weeks for full recovery.
Most women who give birth by c-section will spend three to four days in the hospital being medically monitored and recovering from what is a significant surgical procedure. In the first hours after her c-section, Lori will get pain relief from periodic doses of morphine and ibuprofen delivered through her IV line.
Nurse: Tomorrow we can start taking medication by mouth.
Doctor: We want to make sure that their pain is well controlled, first and foremost. The pain is fairly significant, and I think everybody's pain thresholds are different.
Narrator: You'll begin a liquid diet the first day, and if you tolerate that well, you'll move on to solid foods.
It's important to rest and stay hydrated in order to heal and to help your milk supply come in if you're planning to breastfeed.
Some c-section moms find it easier to nurse their babies in a football hold since nursing in the cross-cradle position can put pressure on the incision.
Within 12 to 18 hours of your c-section, your nurse will want you to try standing up and sitting in a chair. Once you're standing with assistance, the Foley catheter that was inserted into your bladder prior to surgery is removed and you can shower.
At this point after surgery, most moms are taking ibuprofen and a prescription painkiller. Lori tried to control her pain with just ibuprofen at first.
Lori: I started to feel like a soreness, not even moving around, just sitting in bed, I could feel that I was sore which I hadn't felt before. So I'm not going to be a martyr, I'm just going to take the drugs.
Nurse: Take nice, slow, even steps.
Narrator: Within about 24 to 36 hours after surgery, you'll begin walking the halls.
Doctor: It's important to walk around mainly to help avoid blood clots. It helps your body recover.
Doctor: We also want to make sure that their intestines are working and they don't develop what we call an ileus, where they get a lot of nausea, a lot of vomiting, and can't tolerate food. And we want to make sure they don't develop a fever.
Doctor: Twenty-four hours after surgery, we like for the patient to be able to get up and go to the bathroom on their own. On the second day after surgery, the patient should be able to get up, walk the halls, be pretty much fully mobile on their second and third day.
Nurse: Any tenderness or soreness? Do you feel okay?
Lori: A little sore, but nothing sharp.
Nurse: Okay, good.
Narrator: Walking will be painful, but you need to get up several times a day to show that you're ready to be discharged.
Doctor: Let me just take a look at your incision. It looks like it's healing really, really well.
Narrator: The criteria for discharge from the hospital are:
Your pain is well controlled.
You're up and walking around.
You show no signs of infection or bleeding at the wound site.
And your gastrointestinal system is working, which means you're able to eat, have a bowel movement, and pass gas.
Doctor: Most c-section mothers will need some type of narcotic to go home with to help with their pain control, as most patients do after surgery. I usually recommend a stool softener, a prenatal vitamin, and ibuprofen at home.
Nurse: I'm going to encourage you to nap.
You don't want to lift anything heavier than the baby. That means no laundry, vacuuming, things like that, for approximately four weeks. No douching, no tampons, no sex until your first postpartum visit, which is six weeks, okay?
Narrator: For Lori, the biggest concern is not her pain but her curious and energetic toddler, A.J.
Lori: Alex is going to take a few days off from work. Hopefully that will cover all of our bases.
Narrator: For now, her husband, Alex, has both the house and A.J. under control.