8 Most Common C-Section Complications & How To Avoid Them

common c-section complications

There are several common C-Section complications when delivering your baby via Cesarean Section.

That’s not to worry you or make you afraid. Having a C-Section is a very common surgery.

I’m telling you this because having a healthy awareness of these complications and understanding their symptoms, remedies and how to keep them from becoming more serious, will help you heal faster and avoid unnecessary anxiety.

 

8 Common C-Section Complications and How To Avoid More Serious Complications

1. Postpartum depression after a c-section

It’s  likely you’ll experience some ‘baby blues’ after your C-Section, which is normal after any birth.  However some women who have had a C-Section experience depression that results from feeling robbed of the natural birth experience, or from  having had surgery, especially if the C-Section was unplanned or unexpected.

Normal postnatal or ‘baby blues’ generally lasts about 3-10 days following birth and should subside without any treatment.  However, depression lasting longer than 2 weeks or includes any of the following could mean excessive postpartum depression and you should contact your doctor immediately.

  • Strong feelings of depression, anger, doubt, guilt, or helplessness that gets worse over time
  • An inability to care for themselves or their baby
  • Change in appetite
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Intense concern or perhaps no interest at all in your baby
  • Suicidal thoughts
How To avoid Postpartum Depression after a C-Section:  Depression can be difficult to avoid, especially if things don’t go as planned, however it can help to direct your focus on the outcome rather than the experience itself.   Walk as much as you can and keep moving.   Exercise releases endorphins which can lift up your mood.   Create a support plan to have loved ones help with family chores, the baby and other children.

2. Bleeding after a C-Section

Some bleeding after a C-Section is normal.  However heavy, persistent bleeding is not.  Heavy bleeding could mean postpartum hemorrhage caused by placenta or other uterine problems.

For example, the placenta can attach itself more strongly to the uterine wall preventing easy separation of the placenta after delivery causing it to bleed.

Placenta problems occur more often in women who have had at least one previous c-section or have had placenta problems in the past.

How To Avoid Post C-Section Bleeding:  Take it easy, simple as that.  For up to six weeks following your C-Seciton you should avoid heavy lifting, stretching and excessive abdominal exercise.

3. Incision Infection after a c-section

There are two incisions made when having a c-section, an external skin incision and an internal incision on your uterus.

External incision infections occur in about 10-20% of c-section surgeries, however internal incision infections are less common, but they can be much more serious.

How To Avoid infection:  Keep your external incision clean daily.  Do not touch your incision before washing your hands.  Here is more on proper incision care to avoid an infection.

To avoid causing an internal infection, avoid using tampons and having sex after your C-Section for at least six weeks after surgery or until your doctor advises it’s OK.

4. Nerve injury after a C-Section

As a result of having a C-Section, there are nerves that will be cut.  The good news is that these nerves will heal but healing may take longer than expected.  You may have numbness in your skin for several months, even years for some women.  Fortunately this numbness will eventually go away with time.  For me it took about 3 years to completely get feeling back to my incision area.

5. Adverse reactions to medication after C-Section

Serious or fatal reactions are rare, however be sure to tell your doctor about any or all allergies that you are aware of before getting any anesthesia.  Adverse reactions to medications generally occur as itchiness or rashes.

6. Delayed bowel function after Cesarean

Your bowel function will slow down or stop after having your c-section.  This is why you are given clear liquids until activity re-occurs. Once you begin passing gas this will mean normal functions are returning. Full function of your bowels is also a criteria that needs to be met before you can go home.

7.  Constipation and Gas

You may get constipated after your C-Section.  The pain medications can cause that.

To help from getting extreme constipation don’t take iron tablets or foods that are known to bind before your surgery if you can help it.  Eat lots of fruit around the time of your delivery and of course, drink plenty of water.

Also a stool softener can help. Ask your doctor if she can recommend something.

8. C-Section Complications with Adhesions

All abdominal surgery will leave you with adhesions or scar tissue, that includes c-sections. Adhesion are the internal scar tissue that forms a connection between tissues or organs.

Some patients are never bothered by them, but some are.  The most unfortunate thing about adhesions is that they can cause severe abdominal or pelvic pain and in some cases even bowel obstructions.

Adhesions are difficult to avoid completely but you can minimize them with abdominal massage, which you can do almost immediately after surgery.

In summary

These are eight rather common C-Section complications that won’t require much more than careful monitoring and common sense to help avoid more serious complications.  However familiarizing yourself with each one of these complications is an important step in making sure you heal quickly and keeping your anxiety levels low.

For more comprehensive advice, tips and personal tips when having a C-Section, grab The Worry Free C-Section for help on avoiding  unnecessary risk, and recovering faster with less pain.

39 comments

  1. Rose Sopko says:

    Thank you for taking the initiative to bring up the topic of c-section complications – the information you have provided is very valuable for any expectant mother who may be having this procedure. Although some complications are rare, it’s important for women to be aware of them and possible preventative measures. Your discussion of adhesions as a possible complication was very informative, but some women may not be aware that those adhesions that cause physical discomfort can only be removed through additional surgery. However, the forming of adhesions can be prevented if your doctor uses an adhesion barrier during the c-section. I am fortunate enough to know about adhesion barriers because one of my clients is the manufacturer of Seprafilm, but it is not something that is commonly discussed so that’s why I try and do my part where possible to educate women on its availability. If you’re interested I’d be happy to provide you and your readers with more information, just let me know.

    Thanks again for bringing this topic to everyone’s attention!

  2. Lidia Galvan says:

    i have severe swelling on my legs,calves,ankles,and feet its been about 2weeks since my c-section is this a common side effect of a c-section?

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Lidia, swelling of your feet and even your ankles is a common side effect of having a c-section, especially if you’ve had a lot of fluids given in your IV, it can take time to work that through your system. There are women that have gone a week or more with swollen feet and legs. SInce it’s been 2 weeks for you I’d check with your doctor just to be sure. Your doctor can check your chart and history and if there are any red flags, s(he) will know.

    Until then keep your legs elevated if you can, I know that’s hard with a baby but it does help.

  4. walatta smith says:

    i had a c section almost 4years ago and i’m unable to get pregnant could something have gone wrong during the c-section?

  5. Elizabeth says:

    It’s not uncommon for women who have had a c-section to have trouble getting pregnant again, I had some trouble with that myself, in fact it tool almost 3 years before I could get pregnant a second time.

    When I asked my doctor about it he suggested I pay extra close attention to my ovulation time. There’s like 24-48 hours or so during the time you ovulate that is the best time to get pregnant. I figured out when that time was based on my cycle. I took my temperature and tried to calculate it as close as I could. That worked and I was able to conceive a second time.

    Give that a try, if you still have problems check with your doctor, he may be able to help.

  6. rosalina pinto says:

    I had a c-section this month, but I am worried. It’s been 4 weeks and I’ve driving and walking 1/2 mile three times in four weeks. I’ve been feeling a discomfort like pain in my scarf, and I am thinking that may be because I’ve been going all these things that I mentioned. Would somebody give me opinions please.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Rosalina, Forgive me but I’m not sure where your ‘scarf’ is, I’m assuming somewhere in your midsection. This could be from a number of things, it’s hard to tell. I would continue walking but hold off on driving or lifting. Try giving this some more time. If the pain persists check with your doctor.

  8. Kristy Keenan says:

    I had a c-section a week ago. I was feeling good, but am now getting a sharp burning pain on the left side of my abdomen. Not sure if I just need more recovery time, but it’s not a soreness, it’s more of a sharp pain that doesn’t feel right to me. Any comments?

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Kristy, this could be any number of things, it could be an infection or it could be from increased activity. It’s hard to tell but you should check with your doctor. I sharp burning pain means there’s something going on and you need to find out what it is.

  10. AISHA says:

    I HAD A C-SECTION TWO MONTHS AGO. NOW I HAVE ABDOMINAL PAIN ALMOST A MONTH. ULTRASOUND SHOWS COLLECTION OF FLUID (PROBABLY BLOOD) IN THE UTERUS. MAY I KNOW WHAT COULD THE REASON? AND WHAT IS THE TREAMENT? HOW THE FLUID CAN BE REMOVED?

  11. malebo says:

    I had a c/sec 10days ago n I’ve bin feeling lightheaded n shortness of breath sumtyms n I’ve got headach also,wat could be da problem?

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Alex, Ideally you don’t want your incision to bleed, but if you’re exerting yourself and it pulls apart, it could bleed a little.

    Be sure to keep it clean and dry, you don’t want it to get infected. If it’s bleeding a lot or looks red, call your doctor immediately.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Malebo, I can’t say what the problem is. I’d prefer if you called your doctor. Being light headed and having shortness of breath is not normal. Your doctor should take a look at you.

  14. helen says:

    Hi its 7months since my c-section I got heamatoma week after it and naw since having baby I’m bloating a lot and having bowel problems is it linked to section or something else

  15. kim says:

    i had a c section about 2 1/2 weeks ago and i haveasore enderness in my abdoman and have a large lump on the right side next to my scar is that normal its my first c section…people r sayingits scar tissue but that big?

  16. shagun says:

    hi . i had a C section 3 Months back. when ever i am holding my baby upright and when he kicks..it pains . i referred to a doc and she told me that internal stitches takes time. what can be done to reduce the pain and how much time is needed for internal stitches to get dissolve.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Shagun, Time is really the only option here. Try not to hold your baby upright if you can, I know that may be hard but it should be temporary or long enough to let your internal incision heal. Internal incisions could take 6 months or more to where they are completely healed. For some women it just takes longer unfortunately.

  18. sarah says:

    i had a c-section12 weeks ago and the last week or so my cut has been burning and hurting off and on like it did when i woke up from surgary. can you tell me what it might be.?

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Sarah, You may have irritated, pulled or stretched your internal stitches. Have you done any unusual stretching or pulling? If the pain does not subside I’d check with your doctor.

  20. Gigi says:

    I had an emergency C Section on 01.07.2009, yet to this day (nearly 2 and a half years later), intercourse is still painful where the c section cut is. I also feel pain constantly during the day where the c section cut is. Please could someone advise. My husband thinks that I am not interested, when it is simply i do not like pain.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Gigi, pain when having intercourse is generally real and in fact, it should not be ignored

    You could have endometriosis, which means that endometrium tissues are found outside the uterus and can cause pain. Here’s more on that:

    Or you could have adhesions. These are fibers that resulted from having abdominal surgery, these fibers can adhere to other organs and tissues causing pain. Here’s more on that as well:
    http://www.worry-free-c-section.com/c-section-adhesions-scar-tissue/

    I wish I had an answer other than going to the doctor but it’s not healthy to ignore these pains and you should really find out what they are attributed to. I hope it gets better for you :-)

  22. nana says:

    hi,,,
    i am v.stressed and cries a lot am even afraid its going to affect the fetus.
    Am 36wks 3days today, i’v bn havin a severe pelvic girdle pain since the 13wks, i basicali cannot do anything on my own. I also hav terrible hemorhoids which bleed everytime i defeacate. I’ve bn using all sorts of oitment and suppositeries wit no luck.

    My OB denies me an opportunity to giv birth by c-section. He says he wont do it without an indication. Said pelvic pain and hemorhoids are nt indication for c-section.

    I really dnt knw what to do. *stressed and confused*

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Nana,

    For the Pelvic girdle pain here are some things to try:

    – Use a heating pad for the painful muscles or joints
    – Try wearing a pelvic girdle or an abdominal binder, here’s one that I recommend, it can provide support for your belly and relief to your pelvic areas.
    – Choose a comfortable sleeping position during pregnancy — lie on your side with a pillow between your knees to keep hips aligned.
    – If pain is severe, talk to your doctor about safe pain relievers or muscle relaxers.

    As for having a C-Section, that’s going to have to be up to your doctor, however you can get pain relief at the time of birth in the form of an epidural.

  24. Maria says:

    I had my c section about 4weeks ago and im starting to feel burning on my left side and sometimes i get light headed any comments ….

  25. Zarina says:

    Hi, i had an emergency c-section a year ago but my baby died after one day in the nicu bcos of internal complications. I really want another child. How long should i wait to start trying again? I will be 38 years old in a few months. A gynae said to wait 2 years, but my panel doc said a year is enough..

  26. Cindy says:

    Hi, I had a c-section 10 weeks ago with no complications. I’ve been to my gynae for my 6-week check up. Just above my scar I have a ball size tissue which is not painful at all. I asked my gynae about it and she says that it’s just tissue which will eventually go away. Do you have any idea as to how long it can take before this tissue disappears? This was my second c-section and I never experienced this after my first delivery.

  27. Elizabeth says:

    Hey Cindy, It can be different for everyone. For some women it can take a few months for others it can take almost a year or even more …sorry :-(

    Some women have even asked to have them removed should they have another C-Section. But don’t be discouraged, this tissue mass usually does go away, but it can be very slow.

  28. Jessica says:

    It has been over a year since my c section but from time to time the scar opens back up and a fowl smelling bloody discharge comes out. The hole does close back up but what could be causing this? Please Help!

  29. Elizabeth says:

    Jessica, something is keeping the incision from closing completely and of course each time it opens it’s getting infected.

    I suggest calling your doctor, a year is much too long to be having this problem. You may find that the remedy is simple, but if you keep waiting to get treatment it could cause other complications.

  30. Peris says:

    Am 2 months pp since i gave birth via c section.i fear having sex with my husband being on top because i fear that my scar will open.please help.

  31. Ruth says:

    Thank you very much I had c section on the 9th of June I lost my pretty daughter and I’m desperate to have a child… But I will wait till after 6 Weeks b4 I will start having protected sex. But Pls when can,I start trying for another baby

  32. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Ruth,

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    It will be good to try again but I’d recommend you wait about 1 year. That will give your body time to heal making it safer for your next birth.

    Warmly,
    Elizabeth

  33. Gigi says:

    The numbness below the scar is driving me mad. This was the second c section and I ve noticed that the left part of the scar, as well as a big area below it, is numb. Will it ever go away? I’ m two months postpartum. When I had my first section I didn’t have any if this numbness! Shall I blame the surgeon? He said he cut it bigger because the baby could not get out…

  34. Elizabeth McGee says:

    Hi Gigi,

    That numbness is a result of cut nerves. It’s just where the surgeon happens to cut. Most women regain feeling but some women never do. There are a lot of variables at play there but two months may still be too early to tell.

    Sorry I don’t have any more positive new than that but we all vary in our ability to heal and the damage done to the nerves.

    Don’t feel too bad though, you still may get feeling back, you’ll just have to wait and see.

    Blessings,
    Elizabeth :-)
    Elizabeth McGee invites you to read New Postpartum Depression Documentary & Raising Awareness

  35. BOi says:

    Hey. I had a c-section 3months ago and I am doing great. However, after light abdominal workouts I have a pinkish and very watery discharge. Does that have anything to do with the surgery? What are possible complications 3months post partum? This kinda worries me. Thank you.

  36. jane
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi, my daughter had a c section 2 1/2 months ago she also had her tubes tied at the same time this is her 5th child. After she got out of the hospital her blood pressure shot up and she had to go back in to have a iv of sodium, they let her out the next day. Well now she checks her BP every15 min. to see if it goes up she never sleeps she cries all the time she’s been to several drs. for meds to help her sleep, she says none of them work she even went to a mental doctor nothing seems to help she does not want to be alone I think she has postpartum depression I don’t know it seems like she can’t get any help to figure out the problem.

  37. Elizabeth McGee says:

    Hi Jane,

    This may be more than just the baby blues, it sounds like a more severe post partum depression known as PPD. Here something you may want to check into
    http://www.worry-free-c-section.com/postpartum-depression-documentary/

    You can also check this out on the original website at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/when-the-bough-breaks-a-documentary-about-postpartum-depression

    I hope that helps. You’re a wonderful mom for getting involved and helping your daughter. Best of luck to you both ***hugs***

    Elizabeth
    Elizabeth McGee invites you to read Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction In Pregnancy – Get Relief!

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