6 c-section recovery tips

Our Hayes was born via c-section because he was breech, and because I’d had such a horrible time with Hudson’s delivery. I ended up really liking the c-section.

I know, who says they actually like major abdominal surgery? But since I’ve delivered babies both ways, I guess I can say that I liked the c-section. The pain was manageable and I felt prepared for the recovery. I received some great tips from women and figured out a few things for myself during my experience.

1. Bring lots of pillows from home. You’ll have very limited use of your abdominal muscles, if you have any muscles at all! Having lots of pillows to prop yourself up, will make it easier to reach things in bed and easier to get out of bed when it’s time. You’ll need as much support as possible!

2. Belly wraps are helpful! Having a belly wrap will help hold everything together. It keeps everything tight, so when you laugh or sneeze or stand up, you have just a little bit of extra support in your belly.

3. When it’s time to get up and walk, do it! I was required to be hooked up to the IV for a full day, but the morning that the nurses came and unhooked my IVs, it was time to get up and take a walk. The first walk was to the restroom. I can just remember being so relieved to have gotten the two scariest things out of the way: 1. standing/walking and 2. going to the restroom. Check and check!

4. Walk often. Actually just go ahead and take at least three “laps” around the hospital floor per day. This will help build up your abdominal strength again. It will be so difficult to stand and move without the use of those muscles, but it does come back. Walking often also helps you feel better a lot faster.

5. Other than your couple of times per day walks, take it easy. Let people bring things to you. Don’t lift anything heavier than the baby. You want to heal quickly without complication, so just listen to your body and take it easy.

6. Take a shower as soon as possible and put on your own comfy pajamas. Getting clean will just make you feel so much better. Make sure you have someone there to help you, because standing is just difficult. Bring pajama pants with a low, loose waist band that won’t hurt or irritate your incision. I brought all my favorite toiletries from home and my favorite maternity pajamas that were easy to nurse in. It just felt so good to get clean and comfortable.

I really had a great c-section experience. The pain was manageable (thanks to about four days of pain meds) and I was up and back to normal after about a week. I’m thankful that other moms gave me so many great tips to use as I prepared for my surgery and recovery.

What tips would you add to this list to offer to a new mom recovering from a c-section?

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  1. says

    It is SO NICE to read others who have also had a positive c-section experience! I had an emergency c-section with my first (and, so far only), and I bounced back way faster than most of my friends who had “regular” births. There is such a stigma attached to c-sections and for a long, long time, I mourned my birthing experience as it did not go according to my plan. But, God was looking out for me! My son was “sunny side up,” and after hours of pushing, he wasn’t budging. So, c-section it was! The kicker? He weighed 9lbs, 12 oz, and I’m of petite frame and build, so it was definitely a blessing in disguise. The best advice I got and can offer to new c-section moms is after the first week, try to do a little more every day than you did the day before. Hope everyone has a great weekend 🙂

  2. Jeannie K says

    TAKE the stool softeners! Even if you don’t think you need them, TAKE THEM! And take them for longer than you think you need to. That’s my 2 cents worth. 🙂

  3. says

    I had two positive experiences! The first was with my singleton, the second with my twins. My biggest piece of advice is just to let your body heal. It won’t do any good to become frustrated or try to rush it- it will happen and might be sooner than you think! My scar is gone and I was so happy with my recovery. It wasn’t awful, scary or the end of the world- I do not love my babies any less than a vaginal delivery baby- and birth is what you make of it!

  4. says

    Two c sections, I never heard of a belly wrap until this week! Clearly, I was missing out on some much needed support. 🙂
    I agree with all of your great advice.I would add to stay on top of the pain by taking pain medicine as often as possible while in the hospital. I set my phone to take one pain pill every 4 hours. With Brody, I didn’t know this and got the pain got ahead of me. I was so miserable. With Jillian, I stayed on-top of the pain and didn’t even have to take pain meds once I got home. It made a huge difference.
    I loved my c-sections. My kids weren’t huge, but good sized at 8.5 and 9lbs, so i appreciated the way they were delivered, and ultimately, I am thankful for safe, healthy deliveries.

  5. Leslie says

    I love all of your posts but this one is so super helpful to me at this time. Great tips! I was wondering what your favorite maternity pjs were? I’m looking for a great pair that are transitional from preterm and post nursing. Sounds like you found the perfect pjs and I’d love to hear what yours were.

  6. Kehler says

    I wish I had read this post 7 months ago! I sooo agree with Jennifer Francis’ comment about staying ahead of the pain meds. I had an emergency c section after a long day of labor with no progression and thought I was feeling ok immediately afterwards. An hour or so later, the epidural was wearing off and the pain was unbearable. Stay ahead of it and take the pain meds they offer you! I also made the mistake of trying to do too much to fast and I think it slowed my recovery time. Let someone else carry the laundry basket and reach for things in the pantry. Next time, I am going to know what to expect and hope the recovery will go smoother.

  7. says

    I personally hated my c-section and was so grateful to have been able to do a VBAC with my 2nd child. That being said, one huge piece of advice would be to take it slowly when you’re thinking about getting physically active again – don’t just jump right into what you used to do. Even if you feel like you’re back to normal, you’re not, and your stomach muscles are not what they used to be. Also, when you’re getting up from laying down, always try and get up sideways. It is not good for your incision to be getting up from flat on your back, and it HURTS!

  8. says

    I agree with everyone elses comments, and I’d add for 2nd child and beyond- stay in the hospital as long as your insurance allows. That extra day or two to recover before being thrown into momming two+ kids is crucial. Mine were only 15 months apart so things were crazy busy once I got home. I was grateful I had an extra couple of days alone with baby before heading home to a wild and crazy toddler. 🙂

    • says

      I totally agree with this! My husband was ready to go home, and so we did. But I totally wish I had stayed another night. I was ready to get home, but being mom to two is hard. Mine were 19 months apart. I can only imagine what you must have been through!

  9. Mary says

    Erin, would you ever write any more about your birth with Hudson? I know you mentioned once that you would have a second surgery. How are you now? Do you think you can go completely back to “normal” after a vaginal delivery?

    • Ali says

      I obviously can’t speak for Erin and know she had a tough vaginal delivery, but I delivered my 8lb, 9oz baby vaginally and thought the experience was much easier than I expected. I was really scared and anxious from everything I’d read, but thought it was really pretty easy. (for what it’s worth, I also have a small frame.). I had a 2nd degree tear, which is another thing I was scared of, but it honestly wasn’t bad. I was up and walking within a few hours and felt really good by the time I went home. Anyhow, all that to say that plenty of people do have good experiences. (and everything down there goes back to normal…if only I could say the same about my abs!)

      • says

        Births are so personal and subjective, but I want to offer another perspective. I had a vaginal delivery the 1st go round, then an elective c-section for #2. i had an episiotomy the first time (the midwife used scissors to make a cut rather than waiting for a tear because baby’s head was too big), and while my hospital stay didn’t seem so bad, the following months were very hard for me. I was in pain for 6 months after (standing up for more than a minute or two created so much PRESSURE, it was very uncomfortable. sitting somehow seemed to pull at my incision- i used a donut pillow for 9 months after. and bowel movements were UNBEARABLY AWFUL lay-in-bed-crying-for-half-an-hour-afterwords affairs). I chose a c-section the second time around and cannot overstate how happy I am with it. I got an extra day in the hospital, trips to the bathroom were A BREEZE, and I felt so, so much better and stronger and happier (relatively. still an emotional postpartum mess! :P) When I carry baby 2 in an Ergo carrier, I still have pain and pressure at my episiotomy incision. My c-section incision is sensitive to waistbands and pressure too, but not nearly so uncomfortable, more like pressing on a sore muscle. I don’t want to frighten anybody, just offer another realistic experience!

  10. says

    Oh that nasal cannula. I had to graduate to an oxygen mask during my C-section with Lucy, because as the anesthesiologist said, his resident did the most perfect job on my epidural he’d ever seen! He got me so good that I was numb up to my shoulders, and I didn’t feel like I was breathing! I started to panic/hyperventilate and they expressed concern that they’d have to put me out, but I shouted NO! Just help me breathe! And then they got me the oxygen mask, and I was okay after that. Something about actually feeling air going in my mouth and nose — I KNEW I was breathing and everything was okay.
    That was the worst part, really. I know vaginal deliveries are no piece of cake, either, but C-sections weren’t nearly as scary/bad as I thought they’d be. They’re a great option in this day and age, I think, when we’re growing such large babies (and doctors can’t really explain why just yet).

  11. rbs2 says

    as someone who chose to have an elective csection i would for sure do it again. getting a good abdominal binder is a must. also super thick “pads” to stick inside the wiastband of your underwear to cushion/pad your incision, that way nothing rubs it unnecessarily :). and from someone in the medical field i can vouch that staying on top of pain is always better than trying to play “catch up.”

  12. Courtney Beaudry says

    I also had a great experience, but was prepared. My daughter was breech, but will elect to have a c-section the second time as well. I would suggest to learn to roll to your side and push yourself up from your shoulder. Then walk often! I had some healing pains for about two months, but major pain will resided in a week or so.

  13. says

    I think my first c-section was such a difficult recovery because I had post-partum blues BAD. Plus, I went in for an induction at 40 weeks and didn’t even progress past 3cm…ha! So, I wasn’t expecting a c-section and was CRUSHED that I had to have one. All that, plus a newborn, and pain in places I wasn’t expecting…not good. I definitely should have made myself go outside more often once I got home…to see the sunshine…I guess that would be my one tip

  14. Andrea says

    I had a c-section with my son two years ago and I’m trying to decide between a vbac and a c-section for my baby girl in December. My concern is the recovery with a toddler. We will have some help for a week or two but not much. My doctor said I wouldn’t be able to lift my son (who is almost 30 pounds) for 8 weeks. Did you find this difficult the second time around? Just curious! Thanks so much!

  15. says

    I always thought a C section sounded like a better option. Perhaps because because I’m a wimp? Or can we get real and mention the sex issue? But I didn’t elect for it because it seemed selfish somehow? Or risky? Or maybe I just care too much what people think!

    • rbs2 says

      the pain is far from absent (and far from it) so it wouldn’t make you wimpy, and it is a very controlled environment, especially in non-emergent situations, so actually less risky. i chose to have one bc i felt it was safest and so the thought of being selfish didn’t cross my mind, and still doesn’t so i can’t comment on that. i was just happy to have an ob who supported my decision for an election c-section as much as she would have a natural birth with no meds. plus, at the end of the day God is in control either way 🙂

  16. says

    I never planned to have a c-section but ended up having an emergency cs and it was great. Everything went flawlessly and my recovery was great. I think staying active during my entire pregnancy helped, because I had a solid foundation of abdominal muscles. My biggest piece of advice is to get up and walk as soon as they let you! Getting out of bed to go on your walk is the worst part. It’s humbling and torturous all at once, but I honestly think going on my 2-3 walks a day got me back to normal quickly. I felt pretty much myself after 2 weeks and was doing light cardio after 3 weeks. Even though I had a great cs experience, my goal is to have a VBAC with this baby. I won’t be at all crushed if I have to have a cs, though. Especially since I know what to expect!

  17. says

    Mine was an emergency, but I wouldnt change a thing. After I had my son Andrew, I got up as soon as I could and made them take me and my I.V. down to the NICU where he was. I think that the fact that I had to get up to see my baby really helped. I didn’t find the pain too bad, but the pulling of the muscles was uncomfortable. I wish I had known about the belly wraps. Maybe they would’ve helped with the pulling. Either way I’d do it again.

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