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C-section is a surgical procedure to deliver your child. The anaesthesia provided to you just prior to surgery might have its aftereffects - one of them being frequent headaches. The stress of childbirth might worsen the episodes of constant headaches.
Caesarean deliveries might become a necessity when the well-being of the infant and the mother is of utmost importance. When doctors come across certain complications in the pregnant mother, they have no choice but to choose the C-section method of delivery.
The C-section delivery involves making a small cut in the abdomen of the mother that allows the uterus to be opened up to allow the baby to be delivered. Prior to the surgery, you would be given an anaesthetic. This is usually in the form of injecting the anaesthesia through the spinal cord or via an epidural. The partial anaesthesia numbs the lower half of the body, thus allowing the doctor to perform the surgical procedure.
The headache post-C-section is common and is sometimes referred to as a spinal headache.
What Causes A Headache After C-Section?
When the anaesthesia is injected in the spinal region of the body there is pain not just in that area but a niggling pain in the head and neck as well. This pain usually starts showing up sometime post delivery. At least about one per cent of women who have undergone a C-section delivery might experience this form of a headache.
As the epidural is given in the spinal region, a lot of layers are actually being punctured when the injection is pricked right up until it reaches the spine. At times, the injection might go deeper than required and could puncture layers of the spinal cord as well. This could lead the fluid-filled inside leaking and emptying the areas surrounding the spinal cord. When this fluid interacts with other portions then the result is a strong, constant, annoying headache.
Other causes of headache post C-section could be
• iron deficiency
• muscular tension
• hormonal imbalance
• fluctuations in the blood pressure
• sleep deprivation.
Postpartum preeclampsia has also been associated with headaches post C-section. This condition occurs when there is excess protein in your urine along with high blood pressure.
What Are The Headaches Like?
Ideally, the headache post C-section is usually noticed at the back of the head and behind the ears. There could be shooting kind of pain around the shoulder and neck region.
The symptoms do not begin right away just post the C-section. It might begin to show up a few days after the surgery. It is essential to keep your doctor informed about it and do not take the symptoms lightly especially if the pain is severe and accompanied by other symptoms. This might indicate a heavily punctured spinal region and could lead to other health complications if left untreated.
The following are the usual symptoms of headaches post C-section:
• The pain could be mild throbbing in nature or at times extreme pounding inside the head with severe unstoppable pain.
• The headache would tend to worsen when you stand up, walk or sit down in an upright posture.
• Upset stomach
How Is Headache Post C-Section Treated?
If you are considering home remedies to get rid of your mild headaches post C-section, then the ideal ways are as mentioned below.
• Lie down on the bed in a dimly lit room. This would bring about at least a mild reduction in the head pain.
• Rest and giving it sometime is the best way to relieve such headaches.
• Increase of fluid intake has shown to have positive effects on headache reduction.
• Intake of caffeine can facilitate the reduction of headache.
• A few medications might come in handy, such as over-the-counter painkillers.
However, it is important to know that you should not indulge in self-medication without having an approval from your doctor. This is because, after the surgical procedure, your body is still undergoing the process of healing and also as you would be nursing your baby, all medications are not safe during breastfeeding.
In case the pain is severe, you might need to approach your doctor in order to receive a medical outlook on the problem and appropriate treatment, if necessary.
If the puncture is severe, your doctor might suggest a technique known as a blood patch. This technique involves sealing off the wound. The procedure involves taking a little bit of your blood from your body and re-injecting it into the site where the anaesthesia was originally administered. This appears to be a counterproductive technique.
However, it is good to know that it is highly effective in treating your headaches and punctured spinal cord. The supply of blood gets coagulated in the area where the spinal cord had been punctured. This stops the leaking of the fluid from the cord providing restoration of spinal fluid pressure. This aims at providing quick relief.
In case the doctor finds that the puncture is not too severe and that a blood patch procedure is not required, then in such cases, pain medications (suitable while breastfeeding) are prescribed - such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
Headache post a C-section is not uncommon and something that quite a majority of women face. It is really not a cause of worry and should heal on its own with a couple of week's time.