Warning signs after a c-section

Updated February 21, 2017

Having to go through a caesarean section, commonly referred to as a c-section, is a complicated and frightening experience. Because a c-section is considered major surgery, most women are required to stay at the hospital for at least three days. This is to ensure that the surgical incision does not become infected, and that the new mother is recovering as expected. When everything does not go smoothly, and complications occur, there can be health risks to the mother that can potentially become fatal if not treated quickly. There are some important warning signs to look out for.


If the surgical incision becomes infected, puss can form around the incision and stitches. If left untreated, the infection can spread into the blood stream, which can be life-threatening. Inspect the incision area frequently to make sure that the incision does not present any puss. If you do locate puss around the incision, or begin to have a fever, tell your nurse or doctor immediately.

Excessive Bleeding

Bleeding is a normal and expected part of giving birth, whether the birth is vaginal or through a c-section. When the bleeding becomes excessive, it may mean that the internal stitches may not be healing properly. Left untreated, excessive bleeding can lead to haemorrhage and can become fatal. Make sure that you alert your doctor or nurse if you feel that your bleeding seems too heavy.

Incision Bleeding

Bleeding should never be present around the incision site and could mean that the incision may not have been sewn together properly. The surgeon may need to correct the stitching, which may require a longer stay in the hospital and a longer recovery time.

Painful Calves

Pain or swelling in the lower legs could mean that a blood clot is forming. Blood clotting in the legs is a dangerous occurrence that can potentially cause a stroke. Tell your doctor or nurse immediately if you notice any redness or pain in your calves, or if you start to feel chest pain.

Foul Odor

Vaginal discharge is normal and may become heavier after a c-section. If the discharge is accompanied by a foul odour, it could indicate that an infection is present. Notify your doctor or nurse right away if you notice a foul vaginal odour or begin to feel feverish.

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