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NEW! - The A-Z of Dive Medicine

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Female Problems - Post Partum

Dr Jules Eden, dive medicine specialist and founder of e-med, answers divers' questions - as published in Sport Diver magazine:
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Q - 2 months ago I had a beautiful baby girl. The birth was by Caesarean. As I have not dived for a very long time I need to get back in the water as soon as possible being a fit person with no other medical problems. How long before I can dive again?

A - I think you have waited long enough before diving. Your new addition of course has exited you and entered the world via a route through your abdomen rather than the usual more painful way. So the issue here is can you lift your tanks and weights post op without breaking the scar. I think 8 weeks is enough. But if you have had any delay in healing the wound then maybe wait a little longer, but the call is up to you.

The really hard thing of course is who gets to hold the bairn on a perfect dive day when the baby sitter's failed to turn up. But knowing hungry youngsters they will probably need a feed just as the boat is about to leave, so be prepared to hand your partner a bottle full of expressed breast milk and tell him that you'll get some good shots of the mantas for him!

Q - My wife had a Caesarian section birth on the 11th May this year, the operation and birth went fine and her recovery was quick. When would she be able to return to diving? Naturally our first consideration was stress on the abdominal muscles from lifting equipment when not supported in the water, but are there other issues? We are thinking of going on a holiday (warm water only) at the beginning of September.

A - Your wife by then will be 4 months post op.

I think that's plenty of time to have recovered from the effects of the surgeons knife and even after most abdominal operations people have returned to full duties by then. Her skin sutures should have fully healed too, but in the remote chance they haven't, don't dive.

When it comes to lifting tanks and gearing up on a boat, I think it's sensible for someone to give her a hand even now though, as sudden heavy lifting would cause a muscle sprain. As for other advice, if your wife is still breast feeding, there will be probable milk leakage due to the pressure effects at depth, so make sure she feeds your child before diving and even expresses her milk so she can feed baby afterwards and doesn't have to wring out her wetsuit!

Finally if you do go outside Europe to dive your baby will still need Hepatitis A shots if you need them.

(other dive medical questions)


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