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Like most new moms, I started my first pregnancy off with my heart set on a natural birth.
Sure enough, those plans took a little detour after findig out my little guy was frank breech.
I remember those same feelings you are feeling right now.
You’re SO excited to finally meet your baby for the first time, but you’re also a little nervous and want to be as prepared as possible.
Related: What to Pack in Your C-Section Hospital Bag
Related: 12 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My C-Section
If this is your first c-section, there are a few things to know that can really make ALL the difference.
Essentials for your c-section recovery kit
Before we dive into the rest, here’s a list of the top c-section recovery essentials I recommend buying BEFORE your big day.
- High-waisted and supportive underwear
- Comfortable clothing
- Nursing pillow
- Nursing bra
- Nursing pads
- Stocked fridge and healthy snacks
- Gas relief
- Heavy flow pads
Dos and don’ts after a c-section
Disclaimer: These are based on my personal experience only. Always check with your doctor first.
What can you not do after a c-section? (The donts)
While you’re recovering from a c-section, there are a few things that may be off limits for a while.
I was told to avoid the following:
- Lifting heavy objects – I was told nothing heavier than baby.
- Exercise – Until cleared at postpartum checkup
- Baths and/or hot tubs – I was told showers only.
- Tampons – Use pads instead.
- Driving – I was told to avoid driving until I felt comfortable enough to do so. This was around 2 weeks after my second c-section.
- Intercourse – Until cleared at postpartum checkup.
Can I climb stairs?
Your doctor may advise you not to climb stairs directly after a c-section. It takes more abdominal use that you would think to climb stairs.
If your bedroom is upstairs, it may be best to camp out downstairs with baby until you’ve recovered.
C-section recovery tips (The dos)
1. Choose the best underwear after c-section
High-waisted and supportive underwear is a must.
You won’t want a waistband (or anything else for that matter) rubbing against your incision. Wearing proper underwear is a must.
The C-Panty was designed specifically for c-section recovery. These have a silicone panel that helps protect the incision area while helping to minimize scarring and irritation. Best of all, there are no hooks, bands, or any of that uncomfy stuff you don’t want.
If you don’t want to go quite that fancy, these are also a popular choice and still provide the durability and support you’ll need as you’re recovering from a c-section.
2. Wear comfy clothes
As far as the rest of your clothes– as comfortable as possible.
Avoid clothing with buttons, zippers, and anything that might hang on or irritate your surgical tape or staples (I had staples with my first and steri-strips with my second).
What to wear after a c-section?
I wore loose pajama pants and comfy t-shirts for the first week or two after my c-sections, but some moms prefer long robes or loose-fitting dresses.
Once your incision area has healed up a bit, you can try supportive leggings to help everything feel “held in” as your tummy shrinks back.
3. Use a nursing pillow
If you plan to breastfeed, a good nursing pillow is a must-have.
After a c-section, it’s tough to find a good breastfeeding position that’s comfortable for both you and baby. (The football pose is your friend!)
Best nursing pillow to use after a c-section? Moms love the My Brest Friend nursing pillow because it keeps baby from rolling down towards your incision.
This would be the perfect thing to add to your baby registry if you haven’t already.
If you already own the popular Boppy pillow, don’t worry, it’s still a great choice once you’ve healed.
4. Keep the incision area clean and dry
If your c-section experience is anything like my two were, you’ll be allowed to shower by the second day.
While you’re still at the hospital you’ll have to (gently) pat your incision area dry with a towel.
Once you’re home, try using your hair dryer on the coldest setting to dry the area. This works so much better than the towel method!
What about c-section scar healing?
It’s not recommended to put anything directly on your incision until after you’ve been cleared by your doctor at your 6 week postpartum checkup.
After that, some moms swear by Bio Oil, but I personally used Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil after my 6 weeks were up.
Even if you put nothing on your scar, it will still fade as time passes. I can only see my first scar if I look really closely. And even then, it’s very thin and light.
5. Have a stocked fridge and pantry
When you first bring your baby home, you will want to focus on your family and your recovery– And you should.
Long walks at the grocery store won’t be on your radar for at least a week or two.
If you can find the time, I highly recommend prepping some meals before baby’s arrival. This is the main thing I wish I would have done.
Think how nice it would be to come home from the hospital to your meals all ready and prepped!
Also, make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks to grab that won’t require any prep.
Getting this tip right will make the next tip much easier.
6. Drink plenty of water and eat well
Sometimes your digestion can be a little sluggish following a c-section.
Drinking plenty of water and avoiding processed/junk food will help.
Also, it can be helpful to add foods like oranges, mangoes, strawberries, etc. to your diet as Vitamin C is needed for tissue repair and wound healing (source).
Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron (it’s common to be a little low in iron afterwards. I was after baby #2).
I’m a big fan of these Vitamin C packets. Just be sure to check with your doctor first, especially if you’re nursing, as you would for any supplement.
Standing up post c-section can be so incredibly painful the first few times.
All you will want to do is sit there, take your pain meds, and take cute pics of your new baby.
You do need to do those things and get lots and lots of rest, but it’s also good to walk a little every day.
If you sit too long without moving around, you will start to feel stiff and it will hurt even worse when you do have to get up.
This is one thing I did differently with my second c-section vs. my first. I didn’t overdo it, but I did make it a point to walk every single day, and I truly think that’s part of the reason I recovered faster.
8. Listen to your doctor
Your doctor will give you certain instructions before you leave the hospital. Please listen!
Even if you think you’re feeling up to it before the time frame your doctor gives you, I wouldn’t chance it.
C-section recovery time is at least 6 weeks (although you will be feeling MUCH better after about 2 weeks). You will definitely need to take it easy for a while.
This usually means no heavy lifting, no baths, no frisky time with the hubs, and no exercise of any kind until you’re cleared at your postpartum appointment.
9. Be patient with yourself
When you get home from the hospital and finally get the chance to look at yourself in the mirror and see your incision for the first time without nurses around, it can feel a little overwhelming.
Trust me when I say that it gets so much better after the first couple of weeks.
The incision may look a little scary at first, but trust me when I say it fades so so much over time and you will be back on your feet in no time.
10. Ask for help when you need it
This is one of the most important c-section recovery tips… and probably the most ignored.
It’s 100% okay to ask for help. You just had a major surgery, and now you have a tiny new human that depends on you.
You’re one person and you can only do so much! This is one time it’s okay to take off the supermom cape for a few if you need to.
The main thing to remember when you’re having a c-section
Recovering from a c-section is by no means easy, but it slowly gets better day by day.
Before you know it, you’ll be back to doing everything you used to do (only this time with your little mini at your heels)!
What are your best post c-section recovery tips and postpartum essentials?
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