This leaflet is for women and birthing people who have had a caesarean birth. The following advice will help you to care for your wound. If you require further advice please ask your midwife or doctor.
How big is a caesarean wound?
Your wound will be approximately 10 to 15cms long and is situated horizontally along your bikini line.
Will I have a dressing?
Your wound will be dressed in theatre using a large dressing which should remain in place for 24 hours. Some people may require a pressure dressing which can be removed sooner. You can shower with the dressing on.
Will I have a scar?
All surgery carries a chance of scarring and it is likely you will have a thin scar. At first the scar may appear pink or darker in colour, but should fade in a few months. Some people may find their scar becomes raised and red. This is called keloid scarring and is more common in people with black or brown skin. If you have any concerns about your scar this can be discussed with your GP.
How will my wound be cared for in hospital?
Your midwife will assess your wound dressing daily on the postnatal ward, and if you’re still in hospital after 24 hours then they can assist you to remove the dressing and check the wound below. If the dressing is soiled and needs changing earlier, your midwife can do this.
How do I care for my wound at home?
If you are at home 24 hours after the birth, you can remove the dressing yourself. You may find it easier to do this in the shower. You should avoid touching your wound, if you do always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water beforehand.
You should wash your wound daily, showering is preferable to bathing. Do not use soap on your wound, just use water. Pat the wound dry with a clean towel, avoid rubbing the wound.
If your wound starts to bleed, apply gentle pressure for up to 15 minutes. If bleeding continues after this then seek advice from your GP or call the maternity assessment line on 01223 217217.
You should monitor your wound for signs of infection:
- On white skin the area around the wound may be red
- The area around the wound is hot to the touch
- Increased pain despite pain relief
- The wound is leaking pus or blood
- The wound has an offensive smell
- You have a temperature or are feeling unwell
If you notice any of these signs contact your GP or the maternity assessment line as you may require antibiotics.
Some people have a higher chance of wound infections, such as those with diabetes, those who smoke or those with a raised BMI.
If your tummy covers the wound then take care to keep the area clean and dry. If you’re able to, try to lift your tummy up at various points throughout the day to allow air to get to the wound area.
Try to wear loose fitting clothing and cotton underwear.
Do I need to have my stitches removed?
Your stitches are dissolvable. They usually take up to 6 weeks to dissolve completely. You may notice some knots at the edge of the wound, these will fall off as the stitches dissolve. If you have staples half of these will be removed after 7 days, and the remaining removed after 10 days.
When can I return to my normal activities?
You should avoid swimming or strenuous exercise until your wound is completely healed, approximately 6 weeks. Before driving you should check with your insurance provider as they will stipulate how long to avoid driving for.
We would encourage you to sign up for MyChart. This is the electronic patient portal at Cambridge University Hospitals that enables patients to securely access parts of their health record held within the hospital’s electronic patient record system (Epic). It is available via your home computer or mobile device.
More information is available on our website: www.cuh.nhs.uk/visiting-our-hospitals/your-appointment/mychart/
Contacts/ Further information
We are smoke-free
Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.
Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998. www.cuh.nhs.uk/contact-us/accessible-information/
Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge
Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151