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How long do you have to wait to drive after a C section?

Why can a C section make it difficult to drive?

A Caesarian or C section is a surgery that involves cutting the muscles of the abdominal wall. The healing process can be painful as those muscles are used all the time you’re upright, plus any time you have to bend down or reach up.

The muscles that are cut are part of the core stabilising muscles in the torso which are used to brace yourself and keep yourself upright in your seat while driving. As you turn the wheel, hold yourself upright against g-forces created while cornering or braking, get into or out of the car, or lift something else into or out of the car, your core muscles will be activated and it can be painful.

The last thing you want is to have to brake heavily to avoid a collision only for it to be too painful to do so. Lifting heavy items at awkward angles is advised against by medical professionals, too.

If possible, get some help lifting your baby in and out of the car when you first start driving after a C section

Your legal obligations

  1. If your doctor has given you the all-clear to drive, then you are insured to drive
  2. If your doctor has advised you or explicitly told you not to drive, you may not be insured if you drive and you cause an accident which is attributable to the surgery; basically, it’s best not to take the risk as insurance companies are experts at using loopholes to avoid paying out

When are you ready to drive?

You’re likely to be anxious to getting back to driving because not having the use of your car can be frustrating, especially if you don’t have anyone to help you on a regular basis with things like shopping or going to appointments.

You are ready to drive when you feel you are ready to drive. You will see all kinds of figures bandied around like ‘wait 4 weeks’ or ‘wait 6 weeks’. These are fairly arbitrary. Some mothers will be fine in a few days while others might take two months or more, depending on the healing process, the type of car, etc

The length of time you can drive without discomfort will gradually increase. Many mothers will start doing shorter trips within two-to-three weeks and build up from there.

What types of cars are better after a C section?

Low-slung sports cars are the worst option as they require you to lower yourself down into them, and it’s a long way back up out of them. A large SUV or ute where you have to climb in also uses your core muscles. An SUV or ute where the seat is at a similar level so you can step sideways is the best option.

Painkillers

If you want to take painkillers before you drive, check with your doctor that they won’t make you drowsy.

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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