C-Section Recovery is always tough on a new mother. It comes as a shock to those who were never really prepared despite the unknown in the direction birth can take.
I had 3 unplanned emergency c-sections after 20-52 hours of labor. My first c-section recovery was the hardest out of the three.
I was trying to be a superwoman and manage my pain but, in the end, I had to have a c-section which was really disappointing to me. As it is for many women.
We expect that our bodies will do what they are supposed to and when they don’t, we feel like we have failed.
Something that I did not realize was that my disappointment and, ultimately, depression contributed to a difficult c-section recovery.
It’s important for any mom that faces a c-section to keep in mind that situational factors can make or break your cesarean recovery.
In addition to feeling depressed over having a cesarean, I actually had postpartum depression (which I also did not know). Plus, my son was extremely colicky and breastfeeding was painful!
All of these things contributed to a difficult postpartum recovery.
Based on my postpartum experiences with 3 different surgeries, I want to help other women know what to expect and how to manage c-section recovery. So, I have put together 7 tips on C-section recovery.
This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure at the end of the post.
1. Use a C-Section Recovery PostPartum Girdle
A C-section incision is low and it makes the abdominal area really bloated. It feels like your insides are coming out every time you need to use those muscles. That’s why a postpartum girdle is a must have!
There are so many of these on the market. However, buying the right one for your body will speed up recovery and aid with moving around the house.
I purchased a C-Panty for all my postpartum recoveries.
I highly recommend it because it is a high waisted panty. With an incision so low, and with our bellies being so bloated after surgery we get a hang. That hang can then put more pressure on your scar, causing a lot of pain. This wrap is a great option because it will lift the hang.
Honestly, this girdle was the only reason I was able to get in and out of bed, sit/stand, and laugh without excruciating pain. It also helped compress my belly and worked the same way a normal girdle does and made me feel comfortable.
C-Panty also has a medical-grade silicone panel that minimizes scarring, helps reduce itchiness and redness, and protects the delicate incision area. The silicone is durable, washable, and integrated into the c-panty, so you don’t have to hassle with scar gel or scar gel pads.
2. Take the Medication During C-Section Recovery
Typically due to the nature of the surgery, we are given strong painkillers to take every 4-6 hours. If I didn’t take my meds EXACTLY on time I would feel the pain come back.
The day I got home from the hospital after my first c-section, I remember having a complete breakdown. My husband had gone to grab the medication since it wasn’t ready on our way home. I had my in-laws over & they heard me crying and got so worried.
They helped me out of the bathroom and put me into bed to rest. I felt immediate relief after having the painkillers.
Don’t feel like you need to try to space it out longer and make things worse for yourself.
Take the painkillers for as long as you feel that you need them. I took them for about 10-14 days initially. Then I took it as I needed it since I was able to manage my pain.
You will also want to get constipation and gas meds. You may be able to get a suppository in the hospital or your doctor may prescribe an oral stool softener. Take it! You may not feel like you need it but constipation after childbirth, especially cesarean, is very common. (source)
I suffered after my first c-section because I didn’t know this. Taking your doctor’s recommendations will help you go normally by the time you are out of the hospital.
With my second & third, I knew what to ask for and before I left the hospital I was using the restroom like a normal human and I didn’t have to suffer for weeks.
3. Walk Walk Walk for Your C-Section Recovery
Movement is really important after surgery to help reduce the gas build up in your abdomen. Walking also helps with the pain and get the body back in motion after days in the bed at the hospital.
You can start walking as early as while you are still in the hospital to help get the blood flow going in the legs. I didn’t do this the first & second time around and not only was my whole body swollen but I felt crippled and couldn’t move much.
Sitting/Laying down too much in one position can sometimes put added pressure on your incision so mix it up and walk a few times throughout the day.
4. Take time to Bond with your baby during Your C-Section Recovery
With most Unplanned/Emergency C-Sections, it is almost impossible to get that first moment and bonding experience as soon as the baby is born.
Due to being in a surgery room, and also being drugged up it is really hard to breastfeed immediately or hold your baby immediately. It often doesn’t happen until you are taken to a recovery room where the baby is waiting for you.
I made sure to ask for the baby NOT to be fed any formula until I could breastfeed and I also asked for time to have skin to skin once I was able to hold them after surgery.
Any C-Section mom will agree that it feels like they were robbed of that emotional high of natural birth – getting to hold the baby, have immediate skin to skin & watch the umbilical cord being cut.
It’s so sad that we end up feeling this way which most times, results in moms feeling like a failure.
As a mother who has gone through 3 C-sections, I know this feeling all too well. In my 3 experiences, I didn’t hold my baby until at least 1-2 hours after they were all born. But I assure you, it is possible to bond with the baby even if the first time you get to hold him is an hour later!
It is possible to feel that emotional connection, no matter how the baby was birthed. Please don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.
And you can still enforce many of the same requests with a c-section that you would with a traditional birth plan, advocate for your rights as the mother.
5. Organize a MealTrain & Get Help for Your C-Section Recovery
Sometimes some women are able to have their moms or inlaws help them once the baby is born with cooking and general help around the house. Luckily, I had my mother come down from Dubai to help me with my first & third, but she couldn’t make it with my second.
My lovely friends organized a meal train after my second & third babies. They brought meals to us every other day for 2 weeks. It was such a blessing. Don’t feel shy to ask your friends for help or hire help or get a Postpartum Doula if finances are available.
6. Rest it Out
C-section recovery is no joke, and even though you feel like you are super mom, don’t push yourself because, once you do, you risk an increase in pain, an infection and even more postpartum bleeding.
I remember with my second (read my birth story here) I felt GREAT after a week. So I pushed myself to do the normal stuff. Even though my postpartum bleeding had stopped around 3 weeks, I had heavy bleeding again along with strong cramps 4-5 weeks postpartum and unbearable pain.
The more I rested the better I felt, but not pushing myself too soon could have prevented that experience all together.
Don’t let yourself get to that point! Give your body time to heal before go lifting heavy things, driving, or pushing yourself too much.
7. Stay away from Shame
Sadly people love to shame c-section mama’s by claiming they didn’t birth a baby and saying they had the EASY way out.
We DID NOT!
If anything, a c-section recovery can be much more brutal than a normal birth recovery. We are all warriors for bringing our babies into this world even though it doesn’t always feel like it.
We have not failures and we should remind ourselves of what our bodies did, and what they endured.
That scar is a testament of your strength!
Don’t let ANYONE make you feel like you didn’t birth a baby just because you had a c-section. Definitely, work towards a VBAC next time around (provided you are aware of any risks, it is medically ok for you and your doctor approves) but don’t feel ashamed or let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s your body, your decision.
I hope these tips were useful. If you have any questions about c-section recovery I would be happy to answer them. I am not a medical professional, so that cannot take the place of a doctor’s opinion, but I am a mom who understands where you are at.
Massive virtual hug to all my C-Section mamas!
Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may get a commission if you use it to make a purchase. However, it costs you nothing and enables me to keep bringing you great content. I only ever recommend products I use and love myself.