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Read up about possible c-section complications, and you'll find out that some post-cesarean mothers will experience infections, blood clots, adverse reactions to anesthesia or other medications, and even accidental injury to internal organs, as well as scar tissue formation that might interfere with subsequent pregnancies and deliveries. You'll find out that cesareans sometimes lead to emergency hysterectomies, and that a rare few mothers even die as the result of c-section complications.
Something you rarely read about in informative articles about c-section complications and recovery, though, is abdominal numbness. Given the fact that this is a hugely popular topic among post-cesarean mothers on internet forums, and appears to be a common complication, that's pretty frustrating — if you've suddenly lost sensation in part of your belly after having a c-section, you'll have plenty of questions.
Why Do Some Women Experience Abdominal Numbness After A C-Section?
Immediately post-cesarean, some of the numbness patients experience will be a residual effect of the anesthesia they received for the operation. This numbness can take a while to lift, especially in the case a nerve block was used. Rather than being an unpleasant side effect, this kind of numbness protects patients from pain. Once it wears off, they'll be switched to oral analgesics or patient-controlled IV pain relief, gradually tapering off until they can manage their daily life without medication. A cesarean is major surgery, and pain relief can only be, well, a welcome relief.
If you're still feeling numb after you've stopped using pain killers, you may wonder what's happening. The site around a surgical incision will often be numb, regardless of whether you are talking about a c-section or other kinds of operations, and this is related to nerve damage. The the ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and genitofemoral nerves are the nerves that enable you to feel sensation within the abdomen. During planned, routine cesarean sections, your surgeon — if they are capable and experienced — will steer clear of these important nerves. Even when nerves aren't actually cut, however, some damage can occur in the form of bruising or being crushed. Later on, nerves can also be trapped by the scar tissue that forms after the operation. This is what results in abdominal numbness.
Some even report an inability to experience sensation in their upper labia and hip bones! Such extensive numbness is more likely to result when nerves have been cut, which may happen during an emergency c-section or planned c-sections carried out in less developed nations.