Every mom is different, especially when it comes to their preferred birthing choice. Are you hoping for a vaginal birth, or are you wanting to go with a C-section? Whichever you choose, you’re still a warrior, and how amazing is it that you not only created a new life, but brought it into the world? That’s amazing no matter who you ask, or which way it happens. However, if you do experience a planned (or unplanned) C-section, you may be wondering, "How long am I numb after a C-section?" and that is totally reasonable and understandable — it is surgery, after all.
According to Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, spinal anesthesia is typically used during a planned or scheduled C-section, and the medication gets injected directly into the "cerebrospinal fluid" that surrounds your spinal cord. The medications in the spinal and epidural provide pain relief by blocking motor nerves, so women will be unable to move and control lower limbs while it’s being used.
In rare and emergency situations, Bohn says in an email to Romper that general anesthesia may be used, where you’ll be put out completely, but this is only done when there’s fetal distress and there’s not enough time for a spinal.
"If a patient is in labor and [then has a C-section], the patient will have an epidural, which has a catheter that is in the epidural space, allowing medications to be infused more than one time, unlike the spinal, which is only a one time dose," she says. "The epidural is used because it allows you to have pain control for longer than a few hours, and the catheter allows the anesthesiologist to dose the medicine for a cesarean section."
And the numbness in your legs and hips? It should only last a couple of hours. According to Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, OB-GYN at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, however, you may feel some numbness around your incision. "[Continued] numbness around the scar is more the norm than not … but the sensation [around the scar] should return between 6 to 12 months post procedure. The reason for the loss of sensation is the transection of small sensory nerves at the level of the skin, but muscle function is not affected as these are not sensory nerves," Ruiz says to Romper in an email.
According to the Mayo Clinic, recovery time for a C-section varies from woman to woman, but you should rest when possible, support your abdomen by using good posture and holding your abdomen near your incision when coughing, sneezing, or laughing, seek pain relief if you need it, and drink lots of fluids to prevent constipation — because nothing sucks more than being constipated after abdominal surgery. Using compression panties is also a great way to help heal your incision.
The Mayo Clinic also suggested you look for signs of infection, including a swollen, red incision, discharge leaking from your incision, a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or increasing pain around your incision.
Long story short, you may have continued numbness in the incision area of your C-section, but that is the only numbness that lasts a long time. Many, many moms have C-sections and are completely healthy and active women after. Just be sure to wait the recommended time period of six weeks before doing any heavy lifting, whether you’re still numb or not. If you’re really worried about numbness post-cesarean, contact your healthcare provider for their insight.