Pregnancy & childbirth, whether it takes place via c-section or a vaginal delivery, takes an enormous toll on your body. And it takes some time to recover. C-sections have become so common, it can be easy to forget that a cesarean delivery is a major surgery. And it is far from the “easy way out” of childbirth, some (utterly uninformed) people imply it to be. As a new mom, you’ll be dealing with caring for your new baby, lack of sleep, exhaustion, possibly breastfeeding, all on top of trying to recover from surgery. It can be rough. But you’ve got this, mama! And here are a few c-section recovery secrets to help you on your way to full health!
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C-Section Recovery Tips for New Moms
Enlist Help From Family & Friends
All new moms need help, but a c-section can cause your mobility to be limited in more ways than one. Standing can be difficult, nevermind doing laundry, caring for children, or cooking dinner.
If your c-section is planned, try to arrange help in advance. Especially if your partner isn’t able to take much time off work to be at home with you.
Are there close friends or family members who can bring food, take your older kids for an outing or drive you to the doctor? Most likely you will be told not to drive for the first few weeks after your c-section. You’ll need to have a ride to your baby’s first checkup and possibly your own follow up appointments.
If you have an unexpected c-section, you may have to scramble a bit to arrange help. But you may be even more in need of it. Recovering from surgery after possibly hours of exhausting labor is no joke.
I’ve had two c-sections. After one I was eating, walking around, feeling pretty good within a few days of my delivery. With the second (admittedly more complicated delivery) I could barely get out of bed for weeks. And needed a ton of help to take care of my kids, prepare food, do laundry, or really do much of anything.
So, the experience can vary. My advice is to hope for the best. But be ready for the worst.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Trying to do it all yourself can be detrimental to your physical recovery AND your mental health.
If you lack a support system, you may want to search out local resources for new moms including new mom groups or even social services. They exist to help you.
Take It Easy On Your Body
No matter how well you are feeling, listen to your doctor when it comes to pain management and the level of physical activity you can safely do after your c-section.
Talk to your doctor about what pain medications you should take, especially if you’re breastfeeding. And follow the directions carefully. Ask your partner or someone else to help you if it seems overwhelming to keep track of medications when you’re so tired.
I also strongly urge you to talk to your doctor about stool softeners after a c-section. Constipation is so common when you’re taking pain medications. And when your stomach has recently been cut open, well…you don’t need any extra pressure in that area.
I like to make notes about medications and when I took them on sticky notes and keep them with the pill bottles so that I’m not trying to keep it all in my head.
It’s possible within a few days or weeks after your delivery you’ll be feeling pretty good. That doesn’t mean it’s time to resume your 5 miles a day running schedule. Be cautious about resuming physical activity. BUT do move around. Gentle walking, at least around the house, is good for you as long as you’re physically up to it.
Start slow and resume your normal activities with caution.
No matter how cliche it sounds, sleep when the baby sleeps. And any other chance you get when your partner is around or your mom or a friend you can trust to take care of your baby. Try to get as much rest in as you can. It will speed your recovery and leave you better able to cope with everything going on in your life.
Nutrition & Hydration
It’s also important to eat well and drink plenty of water, especially if you’re breastfeeding. It’s easy to find yourself too tired to eat or scarfing down junk food. Or not taking time to drink and ending up dehydrated.
When you’re asking friends for help, consider asking for meals or even fruits and veggies that are healthy and you can keep on hand for snacking.
If you have a planned c-section you can pack your hospital bag accordingly. If it’s an unexpected c-section, you may have to send someone to your home to bring clothes!
What you need are high waisted everything, mama. Most doctor’s try to put your incision low on the belly. Which tends to be exactly where the waistband of your underwear hits unless you’re wearing granny panties. So, bring on the granny panties!
These high waisted panties are comfortable and pretty cute. And for the love of all that’s holy do not buy any underwear that says they provide tummy control. Think loose when it comes to postpartum waistbands.
For the same reason my low waisted underwear didn’t work, my yoga pants hit me in exactly the wrong spot after my cesarean delivery. During my c-section recovery, I spent my time in my favorite old 80’s style sweats with a high waistband and plenty of room.
The good news is this style of comfy sweats are relatively inexpensive, often only $10-$15. So you can stock up and enjoy your days at home with baby in drawstring waisted comfort throughout your c-section recovery.
Use a Nursing Pillow
It can be difficult to find a comfortable position for nursing your baby after a c-section. I found a nursing pillow essential to making breastfeeding work without causing pain in my incision.
I’m a big fan of nursing pillows in general. But I think they become even more important when you’re breastfeeding after a c-section. The My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow is the best way I found to comfortably nurse my baby without her rolling into my incision and causing pain.
Because of the pillow firmness, it’s easier to find a comfortable position for breastfeeding after a c-section. Which is essential for a successful start to breastfeeding.
I sometimes find it difficult to see beyond the present moment when I’m struggling. Which is why it was hard for me to accept that recovery from a c-section takes time.
When you’re in the middle of the pain from your incision and the exhaustion from caring for your baby it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and frustrated with how DIFFICULT everything is.
But it does pass. After the first few weeks, things will get easier. You’ll settle into a rhythm with your baby. Your incision will be less painful and you’ll be better able to get around without pain.
I’ll say it again. A healthy c-section recovery takes time. You need to be patient with yourself.
Having said that, if days or weeks pass without improvement. Or you feel better and then worse, talk to your doctor. Whether it’s your physical recovery that seems to be lagging or you find yourself feeling sad or overwhelmed, reach out for help.
Giving birth is a life-changing experience. And new motherhood is so huge! It’s exhausting mentally and physically and when you add a surgery recovery on top of that, it’s not unusual to find yourself struggling and in need of help. Ask for it!
I hope these tips can make your c-section recovery a little easier so you can get on your new motherhood journey at full strength!