Almost all expecting mothers prefer to give birth normally, but due to certain circumstances, it is typically recommended for them to give birth via caesarean or also known as c-section. As one of the major surgery, your body needs proper care and time to heal afterwards. Here are a few things that you should know about c-section recovery from Dr Ng Yi-Ki, a community Paediatrician at Baby and Beyond Child Specialist Clinic, Publika. What are the types of C-section incisions? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: There are two levels of incisions - abdominal skin incision and uterine incision. Firstly, the abdominal skin incision. There are two types of this incision. The more common horizontal incision on the lower abdomen at the bikini line which leaves a less noticeable scar and healing is faster, or a vertical cut between the navel and the pubic hair (which is usually done when there is a real emergency and the surgeon needs to get to your baby faster). Secondly, the uterine incision. A low horizontal is most common, but there is also a low vertical or classic vertical approach. How can I sleep properly after a c-section? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: Finding the most comfortable sleep position that will reduce the strain and pressure on the incision and abdominal muscles may differ from woman to woman. Some positions you may try include on your back with a pillow under your knees, on your left side or with your upper body propped up a little. Put pillows around your back, hip or abdomen for added support. The best way to get up from a reclining position is to roll to the side first, then prop yourself up with your elbow and then slowly push yourself into the sitting position while exhaling. Take your time. My newborn always cries and needs to be hugged until it affects my surgery area. Is there a better or proper way to do this? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: In the first few days after the surgery, it is understandably more painful. As the sorest area is just around the scar, what you can do is try carrying your baby higher up just above your stomach. Do not hesitate to get help from others to carry your child either. You do need the rest in order to heal. What are the proper after-care that should I observe? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: There are a few main things that you need to do after a c-section: \tClean incision daily and gently with saline water or cooled boiled water and cotton pad. Do not scrub. Gently pat dry. \tDo not lift heavy objects. Leave the house chores to someone else. \tTake pain relievers provided by your doctor. \tAvoid strenuous exercise for 6 weeks, that includes sexual intercourse. Take slow leisure walks in or around your house. \tTake nutritious diet, avoiding heavy fatty foods. Can I let my surgery area get wet when I shower? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: The incision part would usually be covered with a water-resistant dressing immediately after the surgery. But even if the dressing comes off, there is no need to waterproof it. Just gently pat it dry afterwards. What are the types of C-section scars? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: Most scars heal nicely with a faint thin line, but sometimes the body\u2019s healing mechanism goes into overdrive and ends up with a \u201chypertrophic scar\u201d - thicker and more raised than a normal scar or a \u201ckeloid\u201d - thick, raised and more haphazard healing scar that extends beyond the original incision wound. How to heal and minimise my C-section scar? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: The initial care of the scar is important. Keep it clean and air it out. It doesn\u2019t need to be tightly dressed after the initial bandage from the hospital comes off. There are silicone gels available in the market that can be applied once the incision has completely closed\/healed to soften and flatten scars. You can gently massage it in. The effects are slow and gradual, so be patient. If you have a hypertrophic or keloid scar, do approach your doctor for other medical options. Is it normal for it to smell and itchy at the incision area? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: It is normal for it to be itchy due to the healing process and also regrowth of hair at the area. Try not to scratch. Personally, I find keeping the surrounding skin moisturised help. On the other hand, it should not be foul-smelling. That could be a sign of infection. Do consult your obstetrician if that occurs. What are the signs of C-section scar infection? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: Signs of infection include fever, redness or swelling at the incision, pus discharge or worsening pain at the incision or deeper in your abdomen. If you experience any of these symptoms, please see your obstetrician immediately. Does snakehead (ikan haruan) consumption really enhances the healing of the wound? Some doctor said that it is not good since it doesn\u2019t heal the inside of c-section area - is this true? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: This is indeed very interesting. It has always been believed among the Asian population that snakehead helps with wound healing. Credit: ceritamenarik.com But it\u2019s only recently in the past 6 years or so that there are local studies that seem to show that it does help in the wound healing process to some degree, especially in the cosmetic appearance. They appeared safe too. However, in the studies, specially prepared highly concentrated fish (Channa Striatus) extract by certified labs was used, not cooked snakehead flesh per se. I do see \u201cikan haruan extract\u201d supplements being sold on the market, especially online. My advice is to make sure that the supplements are from reputable sources and are approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) of the Ministry of Health for safe consumption. What are the proper nutrients needed in order to heal faster? Dr Ng Yi-Ki: A well-balanced diet is so important for your recovery as a whole. Eat food that is high in protein as it is the building block for regrowth and rebuilding of healthy tissues. Take lots of vegetables and fruits as the vitamins help in building your immune system to fight off infection and the fibre\/roughage makes bowel movements easier (constipation is a common occurrence after c-section). Iron is also important for the generation of haemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying capacity in the blood). Drink lots of fluids to keep yourself hydrated. Being Asian, I also drank lots of soup that contained kampung chicken, red dates and goji berry. And as weird as it may sound to some, papaya fish or meat soup is not only yummy, but it aids in the healing process as well as increasing breastmilk production. I also believe in taking vitamin D supplements and probiotics during pregnancy and after delivery is also as important. We hope that the above Q&A session has been insightful and useful for you. Do not neglect the after-care that you have to follow in order for your c-section incision to heal faster. Put extra attention as it may look better on the outside, but you are never sure of how it is in the inside. Stay tuned with Motherhood Story for more qualified advice and answers from the experts.