A little bundle of joy is worth the wait, and no matter how your baby enters this world, we think an award is in order for making it to the finish line.
Yet, there’s no avoiding the fact that recovering from labor and delivery can be a tough time for new and experienced parents alike.
And if you delivered your baby via cesarean section — also known as a C-section — your physical recovery period might be longer than that of those who delivered vaginally.
Specifically, those who deliver by C-section are often advised about what they can and can’t safely do during the initial postpartum period. These recommendations help prevent incisions from reopening and other unexpected complications, and they include driving restrictions.
Here’s why you should avoid driving in the immediate weeks after having a C-section, as well as when it’s safe to do so.
As a general rule, if you’re recovering from a C-section, you shouldn’t drive for at least 2 weeks from the day you delivered. That said, depending on your recovery process, you may need to wait longer before you begin driving again. Your OB-GYN can advise you.
Note that this isn’t the same as saying you shouldn’t be in a car at all. It’s perfectly fine to be a passenger in a car.
The concern regarding having a C-section and driving too soon centers around your physical capabilities and the risks associated with being under the influence of pain medication.
A C-section is a major surgery, which means it comes with serious risks and aftereffects during the recovery period. It’s not uncommon for your range of motion to be limited by the surgery because of the incision location and muscles that were affected during the procedure.
This means that simple but essential movements like the following can affect your ability to drive safely:
- turning your head to check for blind spots
- moving your legs to tap the breaks
- fastening your seat belt
- having the lower portion of the belt rub against your abdomen
Furthermore, due to the pain often associated with recovery from a C-section, it’s common to need prescription medications to manage the discomfort. As such, there’s a risk you could be driving while impaired, with potentially reduced reaction times. This may make you an unsafe driver.
Don’t strain yourself as you recover from a C-section. To help guide yourself through your recovery progress and keep you on schedule, follow the recommendations below.
However, if you have any doubts about whether an activity is a good idea during your early C-section recovery period, speak with your OB-GYN.
Everyone is different, so your postpartum recovery period may not be the same as your sister’s or best friend’s — even if you all had C-sections. Still, there are many things you can do to aid your recovery process while you wait to get behind the wheel.
Be sure to rest often and drink plenty of fluids to replace what was lost during the C-section and delivery process.
And don’t feel like you have to endure terrible pain. Control your discomfort by taking over-the-counter pain medication — or a safe prescription option — as recommended by your OB.
Even though you should avoid strenuous exercise, gentle walks are perfectly fine. Walking also helps prevent constipation and blood clots.
Also, make sure you’re eating healthy meals. In addition to healing your body, you have a new little human who needs your attention.
Eating meals with plenty of protein and vegetables can give you the fuel you’ll need to make it through those rough early days — and even encourage a future love of healthy veggies among breastfed babies.
Having a C-section can be a rough experience, and your body has worked overtime for the last 9 months to bring a new little human into the world. This means you’ll need to give yourself a bit more TLC during the recovery process.
This includes leaning on family and friends to chauffeur you around in those first couple of weeks postpartum. Enjoy it — you’ll be the chauffeur soon enough, carting your kiddo to school, soccer practice, and everything in between.