If you’re reading this it’s probably because you are either preparing for a c-section or you’ve already had one.
Or maybe you’re like me and you like to read about what to do just in case.
Either way, it’s a good idea to be educated about how to take care of yourself after a c-section.
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I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most women aren’t exactly thrilled about the idea of a c-section. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but having major surgery just isn’t very appealing.
And then to have major surgery AND you still have to care for a newborn, yikes!
I’ve had two c-sections, one was an emergency and one was planned. I could write an entire post about the difference between having one that’s planned and one that’s not.
And now that I’m pregnant again, a third c-section is almost inevitable. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what has worked the best for me during my recovery time. (Guess what?! I was able to have a vaginal delivery with baby #3!! Can you believe it??? You can read all about it here.)
I think even 30 years ago healing from a c-section was insanely difficult, you weren’t even allowed to walk up and down stairs!
But today the recovery is much different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still tough, but it’s not as daunting as you might imagine. Especially if you use these tips to help!
*this would probably be a good time to stop and remind you that I am not a doctor or a medical professional; these tips are based on what worked for me after my c-sections*
1. Have a pillow nearby
Your muscles are going to be sore, it’s going to hurt to laugh or cough.
But if you can use a pillow to apply slight pressure on your incision while you cough, sneeze, or laugh it will help manage your pain!
Pillows will also help to position the baby while you nurse or feed. I use a variety of pillows, depending on what feels the best with baby, but I always keep one like this nearby. Remember, you just had surgery, even a tiny, seven pound baby on your incision might not feel the best.
Pro-tip: pillows are also great for holding older kids on your lap! If you are recovering from a c-section and you have older kids, having a pillow (or many pillows) on or around your lap can help keep their weight off of your tummy.
2. Get walking as soon as you can
I cannot even begin to describe what a difference walking can make in your recovery.
With my first I didn’t even want to walk to the bathroom because I was so sore and quite frankly, I was in pain. Yes, walking will hurt and you will be sore BUT it will help!
With my second c-section I was up and walking 5 hours after surgery. 5 hours!! That’s insane.
It hurt like hell to stand up, but I did it. And then I did it again and again. And by the next morning I was feeling so much better!
Make sure you talk with your doctor’s and nurses before walking.
For my first few walks a nurse walked with me- I didn’t just hop up and do it alone. And once you’ve been given the go ahead, keep doing it. I used to refuse to let the nurses bring me more water just so I had a reason to walk 10 feet down the hall.
The more you move the better it feels. I promise you, walking is one of the best things you can do in your recovery.
3. Be honest about your pain
Not to be super graphic, but remember that someone just cut you open and pulled a tiny human out of you.
You’re going to be in pain. Yes, you’ll be on a high from having a snuggly baby on your chest, but eventually the pain will come. You don’t need to be scared of it, but you need to be aware.
There’s really no reason to be a hero here, if you’re in pain be honest about it. And advocate for yourself!
After my first c-section I had a string of nurses who would just bring me pain meds every 4 hours. I was in Heaven.
Then I got a nurse who would only bring me meds if I asked. Which would have been fine, but she didn’t tell me I had to ask. So pretty soon 6 hours had gone by between my pain meds and I was in pain! And I didn’t know what to do because I figured if the nurse hadn’t brought the meds there must have been a reason. So finally I was ugly crying and screaming at my husband, and he found someone to get me my pain medication.
Believe me when I say, you do not want to let your pain get out of control. So be honest, if the nurse gives you meds and an hour later you’re still in pain- say something! There’s usually something they can do to help.
4. Wear high-waisted underwear and pants
Let’s say it all together now- you just had major surgery! A c-section is surgery, yes, it’s the birth of your sweet baby and that’s beautiful; but it’s surgery.
I think people really quickly forget that. Your incision will probably be tender and for me I couldn’t even stand the thought of something rubbing against it.
With my first I was totally unprepared and about 5 days into recovery I begged my husband to go to the store and find the biggest underwear he could possibly buy. To say he was embarrassed is an understatement.
(And when I say big underwear, I’m talking full on granny panties. Don’t be scurred, they’re amazing! And size up one or even two sizes; your tummy will still be pretty big after delivery, you’ll want clothes that fit that.)
Luckily, now I know what to expect! I have several pairs of high-waisted granny panties and pants. I find I am much more comfortable if I don’t have to worry about the top of my pants rubbing on my incision. Nursing nightgowns are also great in this situation.
5. Stand up straight-ish
This is kind of similar to the walking one, standing upright is not going to feel great at first. Please make sure you are going at your own pace! But keep in mind the tendency right after a c-section is to want to stay completely hunched over.
Seriously, I looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, I refused to stand up straight. This is normal, but the problem is it doesn’t really aid in your recovery AND it can lead to back problems from overcompensating.
Make sure you listen to your body and be safe about it. The last thing you want to do is cause more injury because you’re trying to do too much too fast.
But when you do stand up, remember to consciously tell yourself to stand up as straight as you can handle. It will get easier over time as your muscles heal and get stronger. And in the mean time I highly, highly recommend a postpartum belly wrap.
I didn’t use one after my first c-seciton because I thought was like a waist trainer, mostly for vanity purposes. But actually it helps support your very weak abdominal muscles. I was able to walk better, stand up longer, and heal faster because I had the belly wrap to support me and aid in my healing. It’s well worth the money.
6. Sleep on your side
I always found sleeping on my side to be the most comfortable post-surgery. Stretching all the way out on my back hurt my tender incision, but sleeping on my side with a pillow between my legs was the most comfortable.
I also found that sleeping upright and slightly reclined in a recliner felt good too.
And if you have a really tall bed you might want to invest in a stool or sleep on the couch for a few nights.
7. Don’t get up and down a lot
This might seem contradictory to my advice about walking and standing up straight, but I promise you it’s not. You want to get your body moving and the blood flowing but you do not want to overdo it.
When you’re in recovery from a c-seciton there is nothing worse than getting up to go to the bathroom, getting all settled back in bed, only to realize the remote is across the room! Or you forgot to get yourself more water.
Your body is healing from major surgery AND caring for a tiny human, it needs rest.
For me, this was always the hardest part of healing. You don’t want to rely so much on other people or think that you can’t even get up to get yourself a glass of water.
But it’s so important to give your body plenty of time to heal, so be cautious about how much you’re using those abs to get in and out of bed.
8. Let your spouse/partner/family/friends help!
I think letting friends and family help you is a great postpartum tip in general. No matter how the baby got here, having a baby is a really big deal!
You’re going to be tired and sore regardless, and if you had a c-section you might even be in pain.
Let people help you. And talk about it before the baby comes. My husband and I had a plan before our second was born and we stuck to it. He changed diapers, picked up the baby for me, brought me snacks and water, he even cooked all of our meals just so I was able to rest as much as I needed.
The best part is your friends and family want to help! All you have to do is ask them!
Do you have a great tip to add to the list? Leave it below!
Good luck in your c-section recovery and congratulations on your new bundle of joy!