Cesarean section or C-section is a major invasive procedure done to deliver a baby. It is recommended to avoid strenuous activities, including driving after C-section delivery, for at least 42-45 days (1). You may follow adequate postoperative care to promote wound healing and recovery.
Although experts advise limiting strenuous activities, doing gentle activities and staying mobile for better outcomes is advised. Read this post to know about driving after C-section delivery.
When Can You Start Driving After Delivery?
There is no research-based evidence, but it is advised that you wait until you finish the course of analgesics and feel comfortable and confident to drive (2). It is usually best to contact your healthcare provider, who will recommend when to resume driving by examining your postnatal health status, the healing process, and other medical conditions.
The following are general recommendations for driving after childbirth.
- C-section: You may have to wait until six weeks before starting to drive (1).
- Vaginal birth: You may wait for at least one to two weeks before starting to drive (3).
Why Is It Difficult To Drive After C-Section?
C-section is a complex surgical procedure. Most women who undergo this surgery experience pain, bleeding, and abdominal discomfort for the first few days after surgery. For some, the pain in the abdominal incision region lasts for several weeks (1). Therefore, women may feel uncomfortable driving for the first few weeks after C-section.
Driving requires a person to operate several functions, such as changing gears swiftly and applying an emergency brake, which may be compromised by pain or movement restrictions due to C-section. In addition, other important factors, such as post surgery fatigue also due to lack of sleep while nursing a newborn, the effect of pain-relieving medications, surgical considerations (such as type of incision and surgery), other underlying conditions (such as diabetes or depression), may make it hard for a woman to drive post a C-section (4).
Are There Any Legal Obligations For Driving After C-section?
It is advisable to take medical advice and get a thorough postnatal checkup before you start driving after a C-section. You may resume driving after you get a medical clearance from your healthcare provider. If your doctor feels that your condition may affect your driving ability and mentions the same in your medical history, you should refrain from driving until an appropriate period to avoid legal issues (4). It is also worth looking into your insurance company guidelines for any policy exclusions or accident coverage terms related to driving after a C-section.
What Types Of Cars Are Better For Driving After C-Section?
If you feel the need and are ready to start driving after a C-section, choose a vehicle where you feel comfortable pushing pedals, changing positions, turning the steering wheel, and looking back for reversing (5). It is ideal to select a car with a seat at a level comfortable for ingress and egress. You may consider an automatic car that does not require you to operate the clutch, reducing the strain further. If you plan to travel with your baby, ensure you have a well-installed child restraint system (car seat) placed as per the safety guidelines and car’s ergonomics (6).
What Are The Precautionary Measures For Driving After C-Section?
You may be asked to refrain from driving after a C-section for a certain time, depending on your condition and recovery. However, you must have a few facts checked and take necessary measures for your safety if you plan to initiate driving after a C-section (7).
- Get a postnatal checkup done before you start driving.
- Ask your doctor about your recovery status and after-effects of the surgery or medicines that could affect your alertness while driving.
- Assess whether you can sit comfortably in a car, wear the seatbelt, and work on the controls such as gear, clutch, and accelerators.
- Consider taking a short drive at slow speeds with a family member who knows how to drive. Check if you have any discomfort or pain while looking around, looking backward, or performing an emergency halt.
- Stop the vehicle at a safe spot if you feel discomfort or dizzy, or have to attend to the baby traveling with you. Take a break until you feel better or have attended to the baby.
- Do not continue driving if you are on narcotic pain medicine or feel weak or any pain while driving (8).
Women are advised to avoid driving after a c-section for about a minimum period of six weeks. This is done to allow the incision wound to heal correctly and reduce the risks of the stitches coming off due to some strenuous activity and infections. Therefore, it is considered safe to consult your doctor before making any decisions. Follow the precautions mentioned in this post before getting back to driving after you have had a c-section to ensure your safety. Also, remember that you should only get back to it when you are confident about your condition and health.
Infographic: Driving After Cesarean Delivery: Drive Well And Safe
After a cesarean delivery, you need to allow yourself ample time to recover before resuming to drive. This infographic brings some useful safety measures to remember before you decide to drive a car post a cesarean delivery.
- You can drive after a C-section once you finish your course of analgesics.
- Ensure to take medical approval before you start driving, and preferably, drive a car with the seat at a level that’s comfortable for ingress and egress.
- Before you start driving, check with the doctor if the surgery or medication could affect your attentiveness.
- Recovery-Caesarean section.
- Lucas Minig, et al., Building the evidence base for postoperative and postpartum advice.
- Postpartum Discharge Instructions.
- Driving after abdominal surgery including caesarean section.
- Your Caesarean birth and recovery.
- At what point is it safe to drive or ride in a car again after having your baby?
- Driving after gynaecological surgery and Caesarean-section delivery.
- Going home after a C-section.
- Miscellaneous conditions: assessing fitness to drive.