In the recovery room, nurses will monitor your breathing and vital signs.
You’ll have a facial mask or small tubes in your nostrils giving you extra oxygen until you’re fully awake, then you’ll be returned to the ward.
You’ll usually have a drip attached to your cannula, which will be used to give you fluids until you’re drinking normally. You’ll also have a catheter in your bladder so urine is drained into a bag. Nursing staff will closely monitor the amount of blood you are losing vaginally.
You’ll be helped to get out of bed and start moving as soon as you're able to. You may be able to shower later the same day if you’ve had a vaginal hysterectomy; getting mobile will be delayed after an abdominal procedure.
Similarly, you’ll be able to start drinking fluids and build up a normal diet almost immediately following a vaginal procedure, but will have to wait a day or so after an abdominal hysterectomy. This is because of increased handling, and lack of motility, of the bowel following an abdominal operation. Firm stockings are usually worn to avoid blood clots in your legs.
Your pain relief will depend on your operation and pain tolerance. You’ll commonly receive strong tablets and an injection if required.
After an abdominal hysterectomy, you may be given a machine called a PCA (patient controlled analgesia), which allows you to press a button and deliver small doses of a drug, such as morphine, into a drip in your vein. The machine is programmed so you can’t give yourself too much.
After a laparoscopic hysterectomy, many women experience pain in the shoulder tips, which is referred pain due to air trapped under the diaphragm.
It’s important to do pelvic floor and abdominal exercises from around the second day after your surgery, as per your doctor’s instructions. Your surgeon will make an appointment to see you around six weeks after the surgery.
Before discharge, you should be given specific advice about self-care over the intervening weeks. You should be clear on the following issues:
- Wound care
- Level of activity, particularly heavy lifting
- Returning to work
- Driving (don’t forget to also check with your car insurance company in case they have any restrictions following an operation)
- What to expect in terms of vaginal discharge
- Pain relief, and any changes to your regular medication
- When you can resume sexual activities
You should also be told who to contact if you have any problems or concerns after your procedure. As a guide, you should seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- Swelling or redness around the incision
- Seepage or bloody discharge from the wound
- Fever and chills
- Swollen abdomen
- Pain that is not relieved by prescribed pain medication