7 C-Section Recovery Tips To Help You Heal
Did you know that after a C-section, you’ll experience many of the same post-partum symptoms as a mom who went through a vaginal birth such as bleeding and contractions? You’ll also be recovering from major surgery. In this article, we’re sharing 7 tips to help both your mind and body heal.
After having a c-section, it’s important that you take adequate time to rest and recuperate over the first six weeks.
On top of giving birth, you’ve had major surgery, which can often be overlooked when your main concern is caring for your newborn. While we know it’s easy to get lost in the continual loop of feeding and changing diapers, it’s crucial to remember that your needs are just as important as your baby’s.
To help make your c-section recovery during the fourth trimester easier, we’ll go over:
- C-sections & maternal mental health
- Tips on how to recover from a c-section
- Products that can make c-section recovery easier
Scroll down to learn more!
C-Sections & Maternal Mental Health
While much of your recovery will be physical, it’s also important to focus on your mental health.
If your c-section was unplanned or an emergency, you may be experiencing sadness, anxiety, or even difficulty bonding with your baby. Even if you knew the procedure was going to happen, it’s normal to have conflicting feelings about how you thought giving birth was ‘supposed to be.’
You’re allowed (and encouraged) to be extra gentle with yourself. Having a birth plan not go to plan can be quite traumatic. If you’re finding your emotions too hard to handle on your own, speak to a friend or family member. You can also ALWAYS talk to your doctor about seeing a psychologist or call the helpline below.
Call or Text our HelpLine
1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) #1 En Español or #2 English
Text in English: 800-944-4773
Text en Español: 971-203-7773
How to Recover From a C-Section
1. Take care of your incision
Gently wash the area with warm, soapy water every day. If your skin folds over the incision or your clothes rub against it, you can place a gauze bandage over it. Change your bandage daily. If you experience pain, prescription painkillers or over-the-counter pain relievers can help.
Call your doctor right away if your incision becomes red, swollen or painful, or it starts oozing pus – these could be signs of an infection.
Maintain good posture at all times, and apply pressure to your incision when laughing, coughing or sneezing. Doctors also recommend avoiding driving for six weeks. This is because if you need to brake suddenly, you may experience intense pain and/or reopen your incision.
2. Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby
If you do, your incision could cause you more pain and take longer to heal. You should even ask your partner or another family member to help you lift your baby whenever possible.
Many c-section mamas recommend a bedside bassinet like one of the Halo Swivel Sleepers. They’re height-adjustable, rotate 360 degrees, and even have a side that can drop down so you’re not lifting your baby in and out of their bassinet.
3. Experiment with breastfeeding holds
You can start breastfeeding almost immediately after having a cesarean, but you may find that holding your baby across your belly is painful.
You can minimize discomfort by placing a pillow over your incision or trying breastfeeding positions that don’t put pressure on your stomach, such as the football hold and side-lying hold. Ask a nurse or midwife to show you how to do them. See our guide to the best breastfeeding holds.
Some mothers who deliver via c-section may experience a delay in their milk coming in. Don’t fret! Through skin-to-skin and frequent feeding, you can increase your supply. If you’re concerned, speak to a Registered Lactation Consultant.
4. Rest and eat well
It’s not easy to get a lot of rest when you have a newborn, but try to lie down whenever your baby naps and accept as much help as possible. Resting will help you recover more quickly.
Eating plenty of nutritious foods like leafy green vegetables, meats, and whole grains will also keep your energy levels up. We recommend setting up a snack station near your bed or in the living room so your nutrition and fluid intake stays top of mind.
5. Stay active
You’ll probably have to stay in bed for a day or so after the cesarean to let the epidural wear off and regain your strength, but after that, you should try to walk a little bit every day.
Walking gets your blood flowing and helps prevent complications such as blood clots, pneumonia and constipation. But make sure you don’t overdo it – stay away from heavy housework or intense exercise until you get the all-clear from your doctor (and while you’re at it, ask them when you’re free to drive and have sex again!).
In particular, avoid abdominal exercises such as sit-ups and crunches. You should be able to start exercising moderately six to eight weeks after the delivery.
6. Manage constipation
Constipation is a common problem after any abdominal surgery, so drink plenty of fluids, eat fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and take stool softeners if necessary.
7. Expect vaginal bleeding, contractions, and sore and leaking breasts
Just because you didn’t deliver vaginally doesn’t mean you’ll escape the four or so weeks of vaginal bleeding (lochia) as your uterus heals. It should gradually go from bright red blood to pink or brown discharge, and then become yellow or white. Wear sanitary pads and talk to your doctor if your discharge is heavy, smells funny or lasts more than a month.
You’ll also experience contractions (afterpains) in the first few days after the birth as your uterus shrinks (though it can take several weeks to return to its normal size). If they’re painful, take over-the-counter pain medication. Once your milk comes in a 3 – 5 days after giving birth, your breasts could feel full and sore. Relieve the pain by breastfeeding (or wearing a supportive bra if you’re bottle-feeding), taking hot showers, or placing ice packs or warm compresses on your breasts.
Products that can make c-section recovery easier
Available in more models and colors
- Wondering which breastfeeding position is right for you? Tot Lactation Expert Rebecca Agi MS, IBCLC describes some of the most popular breastfeeding holds.
- Women’s health expert, Josie Bouchier, shares tips on how to recover sooner after giving birth. In part 1 of her postpartum series, Josie discusses improving digestion.