Giving birth is tough work, no matter how your baby enters the world. Having had both a C-section and natural births, I can say that while a natural birth is harder pre-birth, a C-section is much harder during recovery.
Having major surgery like a cesarean is not to be taken lightly and you want to take good care of yourself while recovering. Here are 15 tips for recovering from a C-section that can help you after having this procedure.
1. Be extra gentle with yourself. If your staples weren’t removed before you left the hospital, be kind to yourself during your first few days at home. Pass on doing yoga and Pilates for now and comply with what your body seems to be asking for.
2. Try not to laugh. Laughing, coughing, sneezing, sitting up, rolling over and even walking can be very painful during the first week after surgery.
3. Use pillows. Applying gentle pressure to your abdomen with a pillow may help easy some of the pain.
4. Manage your pain. For the first two weeks, make sure to take your medication as prescribed, and don’t wait until the pain is unbearable to deal with it. It’s no fun trying to care for your baby when you’re in pain.
5. Take baby steps. By the second day of your recovery, a nurse or aide will have you walking the halls. Each day, they’ll want you to perform some movement. When you return home, try to limit your movement to only the necessities: feeding yourself and your baby and going to the bathroom. After that, taking short walks can help with aching and stiffness after your surgery. Be sure to avoid climbing stairs until your stitches have healed.
6. Roll and push yourself to get up. To put less pressure on your incision when sitting up, roll onto your side near the edge of the bed and place one leg at a time off the edge of the bed, and push yourself up, then place your feet on the floor.
7. Feed on your side. If you’re breastfeeding, it will be more comfortable for you to feed your baby while lying on your side. Place the baby’s bassinet or crib within reach for easy access. If you’re bottle feeding, keep bottles filled with pre-measured formula on your nightstand.
8. Set aside your own time. Ask your spouse to hold the baby while you take some “me time” by yourself. Consider joining a “Mommy and Me” group. It’s helpful to talk with other new moms and to know you aren’t in it alone.
9. Try to prevent gas pains. You may have gas pains and they can almost as painful as contractions. You may even feel them in your back and chest. You can help prevent them by avoiding gas-producing foods like beans, broccoli and cabbage.
10. Be patient with BMs. For several weeks after surgery, you won’t be as “regular” and constipation is common. While you’re in the hospital, try to request an enema or suppositories. Otherwise, your first bowel movement may not happen until you get home. The same stool softeners you take at the hospital can be purchased over the counter.
11. Stay connected. The nice part about recovery is that you get to relax in bed with your baby. And the not so nice part about it is that you are home alone in bed with your baby. Around the second or third week, all your visitors will disappear, your husband will go back to work and you may find yourself alone. That’s when you should call family and friends and ask for help.
12. Soothe your itches. About a week after your staples are removed, our incision may become very itchy. This may happen if you develop the “donelap” (when your belly “done” lapped over your belt) during pregnancy. The excess skin may cause mild to severe itching. You can try witch hazel pads, Tucks or Mederma cream to provide relief from the itching around your C-section scar.
13. Sponge down until you can shower. Your doctor or nurse will let you know when it’s safe to shower again. Until then, use a sponge and sink, or a sitz bath which can be quite relaxing. After surgery and with a new baby, there’s nothing more relaxing than a warm bath with essential oils. You will be restricted to showers for a few weeks until you have completely stopped bleeding. After the risk of infection has passed, you will be allowed to take a bath again.
14. Be kind to your feet. If you managed to get through your entire pregnancy without swelling of your legs or ankles, consider yourself lucky. Trust me, those cute sandals you bought to wear home from the hospital may not fit. The fluid can take a few weeks to work its way out of your system. So be prepared to wear flip flops or sport wide shoes until the swelling subsides.
15. Relax and take care of yourself. Make sure to relax and take care of yourself during this time. You’ve just been through a lot, both physically and emotionally. Don’t beat yourself up if things didn’t go according to your plan. You may have wanted to deliver vaginally, but had to have a c-section. That’s all right because now you have this beautiful baby that just came into your life, and that’s all that matters. So, relax and let go. You are going to need all your energy to take care of yourself and your precious little one.
What advice do you have for recovering from a C-section?
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals and information shared on this blog should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult with your medical provider concerning any issues you have regarding you or your baby.
Hello, I’m Kelly, a regular contributor on this blog. I live in Pennsylvania with my loving husband and our five beautiful children. I have a background in early childhood education, but I am currently homeschooling my kids. From pregnancy to postpartum to toddler life, I love sharing advice with other moms who are having a challenging time with this crazy but wonderful role of motherhood.
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