A Caesarean section is major abdominal surgery that will take several weeks to heal. Therefore, it is important that you adhere to medical advice on resting your body and limiting your activity while your body repairs itself.
One of the most important pieces of advice your doctor will give you is not to use the stairs for at least a week after having a C-section so that you do not injure yourself.
We take a look at why it is important that you stay safe after a C-section, how long you should avoid climbing stairs and how you can safely return to using stairs.
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After a C-Section
When you have a C-section you are likely to stay in hospital for between 2 and 4 days but it can take several weeks before you recover fully. It is advisable to get out of bed and move around but you should not do anything strenuous.
Instead, you should leave strenuous duties and driving until you have begun to recover from your surgery. If you are ever unsure about what activities you can and cannot do at each stage of your recovery you should consult your doctor or midwife.
Climbing Stairs After a C-Section?
Your doctor will advise against using stairs for a couple of weeks after the surgery so that you can recover gently from your C-section.
For some women, climbing the stairs is necessary due to their living arrangement, whether you live up a flight of stairs or you have no bedroom or bathroom downstairs. If this is the case, you need to take very good care climbing the stairs by being cautious, taking your time, and not carrying anything too heavy upstairs with you.
You should also limit the number of trips you make upstairs, so try to use the bathroom when you get out of bed and ask others to bring things up and down for you, for example.
When to Use Stairs After a C-Section
As explained, you are likely to be in hospital for up to 4 days after you have a C-Section and when you come out of hospital you should take it easy.
You are likely to need 6 weeks or more before you feel more mobile after your surgery and it will take much longer to feel ‘normal’ again. If you need to use the stairs you should do so as few times as possible until 2-3 weeks later when you can begin to use the stairs more frequently.
Tips When Using Stairs after a C-Section
Looking after yourself postpartum is vital for both your health and the health of your baby. In order to give your body the best chance of healing quickly, you should avoid using stairs where possible and take using them when you need to.
We take a look at how you can safely use the stairs once you are back home from the hospital after a C-section.
Ask for Help
The first port of call for support when you come out of the hospital is your partner, family, and friends. If you have somebody to help you at home they can do the major running around and taking things up and down the stairs.
If you cannot sleep and use the bathroom downstairs they can help you walk slowly up stairs and carry the baby in their arms. It will be very tempting to want to do things yourself but when you are recovering from major surgery it is ok to ask for help.
2. Hire a Doula or a Nanny
If your family and friends cannot support you daily you can hope for a doula who can assist you in getting around the house and up stairs. They can also help you look after your baby when you are in pain and do some of the chores that you are finding difficult.
Some nannies may also help with these tasks so be sure to ask if you are in a position to hire a nanny, even if it is for the short term while you recover from your C-section.
3. Take Your Time
Every woman is different and you may find that it will take longer for you to heal after a C-section than some of your friends and family who have had one. It is important to take your time and listen to your body which means not rushing to get back to normal.
Even if you feel ok to walk up the stairs you should still take things easy as you do not want to push your body too much which means it will take longer to fully heal.
Walking up stairs, stretching, or lifting heavy items too soon can risk your injuring yourself and damaging the part of your body that has been stitched.
4. Use a Handrail
You should always hold on to the handrail to steady yourself when climbing stairs. You may find that you have to take a rest halfway up the stairs or even after each stair for the first few days and this is ok.
You may also find that you have dizzy spells so it is helpful to hold on to a handrail regardless.
5. Ensure Your Staircases Has Good Lighting
You must ensure that your staircase is fully lit so that you do not fall in bad lighting. You will not be as steady on your feet so will need to see exactly where you are going.
You should ask your family or friends to ensure there are no obstructions on the stairs or in the hallway either.
6. Be Prepared
When we are in our home we probably walk up and down the stairs dozens of times a day without even thinking about it.
When you are recovering from a C-section, however, you should try to plan your trips by thinking about how you can minimize the number of times you need to go up.
You can ask a partner or family member to bring everything that you think you will need for the day downstairs so that you only need to take a trip back to bed and the bathroom if you have no bathroom downstairs. If you are in extreme pain and you cannot use an upstairs bathroom then it may be worth hiring a commode for a week or so until you can safely get up stairs again.
7. Move Upstairs
If you are struggling up and down the stairs you can temporarily move upstairs so that you can use the bathroom and move between there and your bed easily. Family or visitors can help bring you food and supplies from downstairs so that you can relax and stay comfortable while you recover from your surgery.
It is important, however, to move about a little as staying in bed or sitting for too long will hinder your recovery. Your midwife will advise on when to move and how long.
8. Speak to Your Midwife or Doctor
If at any stage you feel that something is not right with your C-section stitching or your pain increases after moving about and using the stairs you should call your midwife or doctor straightaway.
Equally, if you don’t feel that you have some to harm but are worrying about doing so then call your medical professional for advice.
Warning Signs of C-Section Infection
If you are unsure as to when to ask for advice about your C-section you should look out for the following signs of infection:
- Redness near the incision
- Swelling around the incision
- A high fever ( over 140 degrees)
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina
- More pain than usual
- Difficulty breathing or sudden rapid/heavy breathing
- Chest pain or pain in the breast
If you have had a C-section or you are expecting to then it is important to allow your body to heal and avoid anything too strenuous. This will mean that you should avoid climbing stairs for at least a couple of weeks while your body heals.
Of course, this is not possible for many new moms as you may not have access to a ground-floor home, and even if you do you may not have a bathroom or anywhere for you to sleep on the ground floor. If you do have to take the stairs then you should do so carefully which means taking each step one at a time and not rushing.
You should take a break when you need to and limit the number of times you go up and down the stairs. Ask friends and family to help you get everything you need from upstairs and to help you up the stairs if you are feeling unsteady.
If you run into trouble or feel that you are in more main than normal then you should consult a medical professional.