No matter how it’s done, childbirth is never easy. For those who have a c-section, recovery from the procedure can be grueling. C-section births occur when medically necessary during childbirth complications where vaginal delivery is life-threatening to mom or baby. Doctors will also schedule a c-section delivery when high-risk pregnancy complications are present.
As a mom of two little girls delivered by unplanned cesareans, I’ve put together some essential c-section recovery tips to get you through postpartum after major abdominal surgery.
15 C-Section Recovery Tips
Your c-section recovery time will vary from mine or your neighbor’s. And that’s due to factors such as our unique biological makeup and different pregnancies.
These 15 c-section postpartum care tips can assist your healing journey with your new baby and may inspire new ideas in you.
1. Relax Right After Surgery
The first step to recovering from a cesarean delivery is to rest. You can’t feel better if you don’t stay on top of your pain medications and give yourself as much rest as possible during the first 24 to 48 hours.
That will be very hard, especially when caring for a newborn baby at the hospital, but nurses are there to help.
According to Mayo Clinic, you should avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby over the initial two weeks of recovery.
Most women will stay at the hospital for 2 to 3 days after a c-section delivery.
2. Get Moving
Once your obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) or nurse encourages you to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom, don’t be afraid.
Utilize the nurses’ help in your c-section recovery and walk as much as possible without overdoing yourself. This helped tremendously in my c-section recovery.
My second c-section recovery was much smoother than my first for several reasons. Firstly, I had done it before and so knew what to expect. Secondly, my newborn baby was in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, and so I forced myself to get up and walk even if it was painful.
3. Don’t Skip Meals
You might not have much of an appetite when you’re in constant pain, or you might be starving from not eating for an extended period.
Whichever side of the spectrum you might be on, take advantage of not cooking. Order nutritious, hearty meals from the hospital or ask a friend, family member, or significant other to bring you your favorite meal.
Do not forget to feed your body to help you recover.
4. Drink Lots of Water
Your nurse should give you a water bottle and continuously fill it with water. And if that’s not the case, don’t forget to ask for water.
Water will help your c-section recovery by hydrating your body and flushing toxins out of your body.
5. Be Conscious of Your C-Section Recovery
As I mentioned earlier, moving around and walking will be one of the best things for your recovery. A huge part of recovering is acknowledging that your body has undergone a major surgical procedure, a cesarean birth.
Undergoing a surgical procedure means you have sutures used to repair a wound that needs to heal.
When you sit back and generate awareness about your c-section recovery, you connect your mind with your body, and they work together to heal. The first six weeks will be uncomfortable as your incision heals from the outside and inside.
Another part of being conscious about your cesarean section is listening to your health care provider’s orders and staying on top of your pain medication.
6. Ask for Help
Asking for help was one of the most challenging obstacles I had to overcome during both my first and second c-section recoveries.
I constantly reminded myself that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
You would be surprised how refreshing it is to receive help from those around you. Some people might want to help you with meals while recovering from your c-section. Others might want to get your other kids off your hands so you can get some shut-eye.
7. Network with C-Section Moms
We live in a vast social media era. There are all sorts of Facebook groups for moms where you can ask questions about other moms’ c-section experiences. You can also try What to Expect or even Reddit. There are a lot of resources out there, and it would be a waste not to leverage them.
Networking with other c-section moms, reaching out, and asking questions in mom groups might be just what you need.
8. Ask Your OBGYN
As I mentioned earlier, your c-section recovery time may differ from mine or your friends. And that is mainly because your incision might be sewn or shut differently.
It’s a good idea to ask your OBGYN what they think is a realistic c-section recovery time for your particular case. Do not compare your recovery time with someone recovering much faster than you. This is not a race!
Start planning the next 6 to 8 weeks of your c-section recovery. Plan out your meals, start contacting friends and family to arrange for help, and create a routine to incorporate moving around while getting adequate rest.
10. Incorporate Necessary Changes
To maximize your recovery, you’ll want to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes.
Healthy lifestyle changes to aid your c-section recovery could mean adding daily walks around the neighborhood, drinking a minimum of 8 cups of water a day, and getting 8 hours of sleep at night.
Other healthy lifestyle changes could include eating a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner with healthy snacks, or even taking out sugar from your diet and limiting drinking soda to one day a week.
11. Practice Self-Care Practices
Have you ever heard the saying: “you can’t pour from an empty cup”?
It’s definitely true in this situation. It’s easy to feel drained, exhausted and overwhelmed with a newborn and maybe other children in the house while trying to recover from a c-section.
You can incorporate some (or all) self-care practice ideas while your kids are asleep at night, during nap times, or when you get help watching the kids.
- Go on a friend date
- Leave the house for coffee
- Read a book
- Do yoga
- Go for a run
- Sit outside and enjoy the peace and quiet
- Paint your nails or get your nails done
- Enjoy a bubble bath
- Get a massage
- Start a project
12. Create a List of Questions
The six weeks following your c-section might go by very fast or quite slow. There might be a few questions you may have for your OBGYN, and then forget the next moment.
That’s why creating a list on your phone is essential, so you can pull it up and jot down your questions before they leave your mind.
You can ask these c-section recovery-related questions for your 6-week postpartum appointment.
13. C-Section Scar Mobilization
Once your c-section incision is healed at six weeks postpartum, you should be able to begin c-section scar mobilization massages.
Ask your OBGYN before starting self-massages because you may not have healed enough.
The goal of c-section scar mobilization is to prevent scar tissue from adhering to other organs in your body like the bladder, uterus, or colon.
You can begin by using your fingertips to gently massage above your scar line in a circular motion for about 5 minutes a day to free scar tissue.
14. Get Sleep
Your body cannot physically recover from your c-section delivery without the help of sleep. The best time to get sleep is when your baby is sleeping.
If you have a toddler or other babies in the home, ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to help with the kids so you can get adequate sleep.
15. Love Yourself
For some moms, accepting the changes a c-section brings to our bodies can be difficult.
It may hard to handle the new scar running across our abdomen, the lovely c-section overhang that some of us suffer from, or simply extra weight gain from pregnancy that feels impossible to lose.
We must remind ourselves that it was our incredible female anatomy that grew and nourished our sweet babies. In return, to create a healthy foundation during your c-section recovery, you must first love yourself for everything your body has endured.
C-section recovery is physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging. There won’t be many times in your life when it will physically hurt to laugh, sneeze, or cough.
Your body needs time to recover. Hopefully, these 15 c-section recovery tips will help you with your postpartum care.
You might even want to continue some of these healthy changes to your life after you’ve recovered!
Don’t forget to listen to your health care provider, don’t lift anything heavier than your baby during the first couple of weeks, and utilize these cesarean section recovery tips!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Nahyun is a 2x c-section mom and founder of Lifting Motherhood, a motherhood, and fitness blog that help moms find a way to live a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. With over 10 years of experience in health and fitness, a former bodybuilder, with bachelor’s degrees in Nursing and Health, Nahyun has an undeniable love for fitness and helping others live a healthy life!