How to keep c section incision dry when overweight

How to keep c section incision dry when overweight

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Caesareans or C-sections are extremely common today, where one in four women in the UK will opt for one. This figure includes plus-sized women, for whom C-sections might be the safest way to have babies. This raises the question about what are the realities of a caesarean surrounding self-care and how to keep c-section incision dry when overweight.
While prevalent and often life-saving, c-sections are significant operations that might come with problems. Recovery is also more prolonged, complex and uncomfortable.
Wound infections and complications affect women’s recoveries, particularly those who carry extra weight. And while all women are advised to care for and dry their wounds, it’s even more crucial when overweight. Keeping the injury dry isn’t a walk in the park, though. The area gets sweaty, particularly if there’s extra tissue around your middle.
Can you keep your wound dry and prevent an infection if you’re overweight? In this article, we’re delving into essential tips for self-care and what symptoms to look out for if you become unwell.

What Is a C-Section?

A C-section is a surgical procedure used to deliver babies. An obstetrician will make a deep cut or incision across the womb and the stomach to remove the new-born, placenta and amniotic membrane.

The cut is made horizontally above the bikini line, extending 10-to-20 centimetres. However, under certain medical circumstances, the doctor may make a vertical incision from the navel to the pubic bone.

Not without risks, doctors will only carry out the operation if it’s deemed safe for the mother and baby.

Reasons For Having A C-Section

These days, doctors perform C-sections for different reasons. They may be medical emergencies where vaginal births are deemed too risky or elective, meaning the c-section is chosen or planned ahead.

Possible reasons vary from maternal health issues – such as diabetes, that necessitate csections to complications affecting fetal well-being, like their positioning in the womb.

Pre-pregnancy weight may also increase the likelihood of a caesarean, with research by Pubmed suggesting a connection between obesity and the increased risks of having a vaginal delivery.

Common reasons for C-SectionsWhy Is It Important to Keep a C-section Dry?
People ask how to keep a c section incision dry when overweight because doing so is critical in the first weeks post-surgery. It reduces your chances of the injury becoming inflamed and infected.

Wounds that aren’t correctly dried take longer to heal and might lead to discomfort and illness.

Are Overweight Mothers More Prone to Infection?

A 2014 study reveals that more overweight women suffer C-section infections than mothers who aren’t. Here are a few reasons why that might be the case.

1. More Fatty Tissue

Overweight mothers might be more vulnerable because folds of skin and fat make it difficult to keep the incision completely dry.

In addition, the excess tissue might produce more fluid around the surgical site, creating a moist environment where bacteria multiply and thrive, resulting in a surgical site infection.

2. Medical Conditions

Some overweight pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, which affects the immune system, slows healing and offsets a wound infection.

How to Heal From a C-Section When Overweight

Healing from a C-section, which typically takes six weeks or longer, is often slow and painful. This challenge of recovery is compounded by looking after a newborn.

Over this recovery period, you’ll need to rest, engage in minimal activity, and, most importantly, keep your wound clean and dry.

How can you keep a C-section incision dry when overweight when, frankly, it’s fairly challenging? 

For a mother with an apron belly, where the stomach hangs over the incision, it’s harder to inspect and care for a healing wound fully. 

In this context, the task of keeping a wound dry requires around-the-clock care and vigilance, which is time new mothers are already pressed for. 

Here are a few tips to help.


Rest with your new family to help recover after your C-Section

1. Keep Your Hospital Bandage On

Before leaving the hospital, a hospital worker will dress the wound with a waterproof bandage to protect it and keep it dry. Leave this on for approximately 48 hours or as advised.

2. Take Prescribed Antibiotics

If you already show early signs of an infection during your hospital stay, your doctor might administer antibiotics. These should be taken in conjunction with proper wound cleaning and drying.

3. Follow Wound Care Instructions

Before your discharge, your care team will equip you with important medical information to ensure proper wound care, highlighting the need to keep the surgical area dry.

4. Routinely Inspect the Incision

If you can’t see the wound clearly, ask a friend or loved one for assistance. To help, they’ll need to lift your stomach to examine the incision gently and carefully. Alternatively, if no one’s around, you can use a mirror for this task.

Don’t hesitate to see your medical practitioner immediately if worrying symptoms occur or existing pain refuses to improve.

5. Use Gauze Pads, Pads or Absorbent Items

Gauze or pads placed over the incision serve as a protected barrier against your postpartum underwear, preventing rubbing. They can also keep your wound dry to avoid infection.

Opt for absorbent, sanitary pads or napkins that can mop up excess moisture at the incision site. Ensure to change your napkin regularly to prevent soaking.

Additionally, consider pressing a towel against your skin folds to stop sweat from going near the wound.

6. Air Circulation

How to keep your c section incision dry when overweight if other methods don’t work? Simple, expose your belly to air. But if you’re plus-sized, this might be slightly trickier to achieve. 

Begin by removing clothing and barriers – like bandages or pads covering your wound, before directing a fan onto your injury. Lie flat on your back and lift your belly out of the way if needed.

Alternatively, ask your partner to run an air dryer across your abdomen as you hold up your stomach. If these aren’t feasible, sit outside or lie on a pool lounger on a cool day to aerate your stomach and wound.

7. Wear Loose Clothing

After having a baby, the desire to return to the pre-maternity clothes is natural, as they can make you feel more like yourself. But wearing loose-fitting dresses, tops, and pants is more beneficial for your recovery. These clothing items are more breathable, keep you cool, and prevent sore and uncomfortable chafing.

8. Rest and Do Less

Looking for some easy ways to keep a section incision dry when overweight? Focus on resting, recuperating and relaxing. This entails refraining from strenuous exercise or activities until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. The only heavy lifting you should be doing is carrying your baby. 

The reason for this is evident: engaging in physical activity poses a risk of increased injury or the possibility of opening your incision. Exercise also works up a sweat, which counteracts your efforts of keeping your c-section dry and clean.

In the same vein, doctors will recommend you take light daily walks. This is particularly beneficial for blood clots, which can sometimes occur as a complication of having a C-section, with the risk being higher if you’re overweight. Gentle exercise and movement decrease this risk.

9. Keep the Wound Clean and Dry

Infection can occur if you don’t regularly clean or touch your wound with dirty hands.

Routinely wash the area with mild soap, cleaning between the skin folds. If you’re in pain or need assistance, ask for help.

Once you’ve cleaned the area, use a towel or a hair dryer set to cool to ensure thorough drying. While you might want to feel warm air against your skin, your wound will likely be heat-sensitive, or might induce sweating.

Do I Need Medical Care?

How to keep a c section incision dry when overweight? If you’re asking this because you’re observing concerning symptoms, it could be an indication that it’s too late to prevent an infection. 

Seek immediate treatment if you’re experiencing a severe infection that won’t heal naturally. Untreated, this could lead to extreme swelling that could split open your incision.

Look out for these symptoms if you or a loved one fall ill after a C-section.

1. Worsening Pain Over Time

After a C-section, you’ll have a severe wound requiring stitches and strong pain medication.

It’s natural to feel discomfort or pain after this surgery, and you might also see redness and slight swelling for a few days afterwards. All these symptoms are entirely normal. But intensifying or intolerable pain that can’t be controlled with painkillers points is atypical.

2. Foul-smelling fluid or Pus Discharge

In the early days of your recovery, having a leaking wound is normally nothing to worry about.

However, a foul-smelling liquid or puss oozing from your wound is generally cause for alarm. If you’re routinely cleaning your injury, there isn’t any reason for this unless there’s an infection. 

3. Prolonged Postpartum Swelling

Postpartum swelling, or water retention, is a normal, non-serious bodily response you might experience after having a child.

This swelling, which is your body getting rid of excess fluid after childbirth, reduces within days.

Mild swelling that lasts longer is still okay, but increased swelling at the surgical site, combined with feelings of hotness, abdominal pain and fever, requires urgent medical attention.

Is Itchiness Another Sign of Infection?

Many women complain about their cut feeling itchy. While uncomfortable, itchiness is nothing to worry about.

You’ll be shaved before the surgical procedure, so that feeling of itchiness is your pubic hair growing back over your wound.

Though harmless, scratching your itch will inflict further damage to your wound.

Hold something against your stomach, like a cold pack, to soothe this unpleasant sensation.

Keeping your C-Section Scar Dry will promote recovery

Signs That Your Wound Is Healing

Following our at-home “how to keep a section incision dry when overweight” methods can minimise your chances but can’t safeguard against an infected wound.

You may also find recovery glacially and frustratingly slow. Invariably, people improve at different rates, so it’s essential to exercise caution and practice patience over this time. Once C-section wounds become scars, they might quietly fade, thicken, or remain reddish or purplish. Yours might not look the same as the scars you see in baby magazines or online – but that doesn’t mean anything’s the matter. 

Here’s how to differentiate between a healing and an aggravated wound and scar variations if you’re concerned. 

  • You’ll feel sore for about two to three weeks, but the wound should feel less tender over time. 
  • Your incision will appear swollen and pink and might seep clear liquid for the first few days.
  • The cut will thicken and grow darker at the three-to-four-week mark as collagen accumulates at the site. This strengthens the incision and pulls it together at the edges. 
  • Healing takes up to a year, during which your wound should gradually flatten, thin and fade. However, not all c-section scars are the same and might look and feel different depending on your body type. 

How Are Wound Infections Treated?

Depending on the severity of the infection, infections are treated with antibiotics. In some cases, minor surgery might be needed. 

The choice of antibiotics you receive and the duration of treatment depend on the bacteria causing the infection. Milder conditions, like cellulitis, often respond well to a course or two of antibiotics. 

In cases where the wound reopens or contains excess fluids, doctors may opt to operate. During the procedure, your doctor will remove infected fluids and abscesses to prevent further complications. 

Can I Have a Natural Birth as an Overweight Woman?

Being overweight doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a C-section, but it does raise the chances.

Although C-sections might be inevitable, there are associated risks that might impact you negatively.

So can you have a natural birth safely if you don’t want a C-section or have major concerns? Vaginal deliveries aren’t always recommended because they could endanger the lives of the mother and child. For instance, obese women face an increased for developing preeclampsia, a severe blood pressure disorder occurring during pregnancy. Usually occurring in the final trimester and during labour; this condition can be fatal for the mother and her unborn child.

Nevertheless, talk with your OBYN before ruling out a vaginal birth. With careful management of your weight and lifestyle changes before or during pregnancy, it might be a viable option.

Takeaway: How to Keep a C Section Incision Dry When Overweight

While some might consider a C-section an easier alternative to vaginal childbirth, it’s actually an extensive surgical procedure. The aftermath involves a substantial wound, making recovery challenging and sore. Adding to that, you’re responsible for your new, utterly dependent family member. 

The advice provided by your care team would be to keep your wound dry, which can be particularly challenging if you’re overweight. 

For overweight or obese women, the presence of a shelf of skin falling over your incision makes it difficult to keep the incision dry. But we’ve gathered some handy “how to keep a c section incision dry when overweight” tricks to help stave off nasty infections. However, despite your best efforts in following our tips, your wound may get infected still. Therefore, it’s crucial to closely monitor for early warning signs and seek prompt medical treatment. 

If your wound is healing differently than expected, learn to distinguish between healing incisions and potential problems. One that’s oozing puss could indicate an issue, while a thick or red scar is typical standard during healing. 

Finally, is a natural birth possible for overweight women? More risks are attached to vaginal births for larger women, but if you’re worried about the complications of C-sections, discuss your options with your doctor.

We would love to hear about your experiences with keeping C-Section scars dry when overweight – feel free to share in the comments!




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