Need a C-Section? Ask Your Doc to Do This

New research shows that the method your doctor closes your incision can determine how well you heal.

Doctor with stethoscope Eduard Radu/Shutterstock

Here's something you probably didn't think to put in your birth plan: If a C-section is performed, close with sutures (stitches), not staples. It could make a difference in your recovery, says a new study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University examined 746 women who had C-sections—half of which were closed by stitches and the other half by staples. Women who were sutured had a 57 percent less risk of wound complications—like infections and separation of 1 cm or longer—versus those who received staples at closing.

Even if you're trying to avoid a C-section, ask your OB-GYN how she would close your skin incision, just in case. "Feel free to state that you would prefer suture closure," says Dhanya Mackeen, M.D., director of research in the maternal fetal medicine division at Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA, and lead author of the study.

Keep in mind, though, that there are some situations that require staples: "There are occasional instances when an obstetrician needs to close the incision very quickly, and for those instances, staples may be used, as they permit faster closure," says Dr. Mackeen.

Already had a C-section? One of the most important things you can do is make sure your incision is clean and dry. And see your doc for a follow up: "Women tend to be more focused on keeping appointments for their babies, but forget that their health is equally important," says Dr. Mackeen. Call your doctor ASAP if you have symptoms of infection, like a fever, redness, foul odor, or drainage.

Related: Why Unnecessary C-Sections Do More Harm Than Good