C Section Recovery: 11 Important Things To Keep In Mind

woman recovering in hospital bed

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“Labor is the only blind date where you’re sure you’ll meet the love of your life.” – Unknown

A lot of women dream of becoming a mom one day. It was my dream as well and to be honest, I didn’t think that much about labor and giving birth as I was enjoying every day of my pregnancy. I really didn’t run into any problems. My baby was fine and I felt better than ever. I thought that things would go easy and that I’d have a vaginal birth. But, things are not always like we want them.

I had to have a cesarean section. Let me tell you now that I wasn’t prepared to go through something like that. Since it was my first baby, I had general anesthesia, so waking up was a bit awkward. I didn’t know what I was talking about and I felt like I was in a half-sleep the whole day. But thanks to great midwives and nurses, I got up 2 hours after my C section and walked a bit.

And once you get up, you feel much better and C section recovery doesn’t feel as hard as others say it will be.

But, if you don’t know what to do and what kind of postpartum care to have during the recovery process, here are some things that might help you.

1. C section is a surgery

Many new moms think that they can do things that they used to do before a C section, but the truth is different.

You can’t.

It’s abdominal surgery and there are some strict rules that you need to obey if you want to recover fast.

Newborn baby with mother in hospital

You’ll have to stay in hospital for 5 days and you’ll need to get up from time to time to avoid getting blood clots.

As you get better, you’ll get a chance to take care of your little one. That includes breastfeeding and bonding.

But if you’re feeling bad at any moment, you’ll need to get some rest.

Cesarean section is different from vaginal birth and you need to take care of yourself properly. That means that you need to get rest and ask someone to help you with your baby.

You can’t expect that you’ll cook and clean with a wound on your belly. It’s good to get up and be active a bit, but always make sure to listen to your body.

The C section recovery process usually lasts 6 weeks, so make sure that you do only what is essential. For everything else, ask your partner to help you.

2. C section recovery lasts longer than vaginal birth recovery

Since this is major surgery and there are risks for both mom and baby, you need to listen to all that your obstetricians advise you.

Move as much as you can to avoid getting blood clots. Also, take care of the C section scar because you don’t want to see any signs of infection.

In the first couple of days, the hospital nurses will take care of your scar, but once you get out, you’re on your own.

You’ll probably feel soreness in the first weeks but it will progressively become better if you listen to the rules.

Your doctor will probably prescribe some pain relievers that will help you function normally and take care of your little one. Always check how many of those pills you can take in case you’re breastfeeding.

Many doctors say that simple ibuprofen can reduce the pain around the wound, but beware not to take it for too long while breastfeeding, otherwise you increase the risk of harm to your baby.

mother holding baby after childbirth

Postpartum care is extremely important and always make sure to reduce your physical activity to the minimum.

3. Drink a lot of water

It’s true that you won’t be allowed to eat anything the first day after your C section but at least you’ll be able to drink. You need to drink a lot of water, especially once you start breastfeeding.

Milk won’t come in as fast as with those women who had a vaginal delivery. With a C section, women’s milk comes in approximately after 3 days, during which you should spend as much time as possible with your baby.

Use the time to form that intimate bond and enjoy every small change that your little one makes. If you have problems with breastfeeding or if you’re a new mom, you can always ask for a lactation consultant to help you.

doctor's hand holding glass of water

Bear in mind that breastfeeding is the best gift that you can give to your baby. But if there is any valid reason to introduce your baby to formula, don’t feel bad about it.

I couldn’t breastfeed my baby due to medical issues and even though I felt bad at the beginning, I now see that he is a healthy and happy boy.

Using a good baby formula is better than giving your baby breast milk that is not good for him.

4. Learn how to prevent constipation

This is a major issue with all new moms and if you don’t know how to prevent constipation, it can get very nasty. If you had a C section, you won’t be able to do any pushing when going to the toilet.

One of the best things that you can do is to try some stool softener. For starters, make sure to walk normally and drink enough water.

Woman holding up a bowl with fresh plums

If you have major issues, you can eat plums or even drink plum juice. Try to eat food that is rich with iron and fiber.

These things are as awesome as stool softeners and if you continue using them, there are no serious after-effects.

Relax when you can and don’t think that you can go back to your old routine just because you’re feeling a bit better.

Don’t lift any heavy objects – let the heaviest thing you’ll ever lift be your baby. If you follow a balanced diet, you shouldn’t be having any major issues with constipation.

5. Treat your C section scar carefully

The C section incision and scar is the part of your body that needs careful care. After you get out of the hospital, make sure to always keep this area dry.

You’ll have a bandage over the C section scar and need to change it every day. Take care of the cut – the last thing you want to see are any signs of infection.

When you take a shower, don’t let the water go directly in the C section incision. Once you get out of the shower, make sure to dab the area with a clean cloth carefully (don’t wipe!)

You’ll obviously have stitches after a C section, some of which will fall out and some will have to be removed by a doctor or a nurse.

Also, you’ll feel soreness for some time, but that is completely normal.

The most important thing is that you don’t climb any stairs or lift anything heavier than your baby.

When your C section is completely healed, you can use some special oils or creams on that area for better and faster complete recovery.

6. Walk

One of the best tips you can get is to get up carefully and walk after a C section. Most moms stand up 2 hours after C section because that is a good way to avoid blood clots.

If the operation didn’t have any complications, there is no reason to lie in bed. The sooner you get up, the better you’ll feel.

You will regain all your energy and learn to take care of your baby on your own while you’re in hospital. I’m not saying you need to walk all the time, but if you feel good, get up every once and a while for better blood circulation.

Young woman doing exercise indoors at home

A Cesarean section is a serious operation, but if you live by all of your obstetrician’s advice, you won’t have any problems.

7. Vaginal bleeding is normal during the C section recovery

Maybe you thought that you won’t have any vaginal bleeding because of the cesarean birth, but that is not true.

Even if your abdominal cavity is cleaned after the C section, there is still residual vaginal blood that needs to get out.

This kind of bleeding is called lochia and it’s not so severe like that of vaginal delivery.

It’s normal that blood and the uterus tissue get out of your system. It’s all a part of the healing process.

Everything is going back to its place and your body’s been going through many changes.

If your vaginal bleeding is not heavy, you can use thinner postpartum pads.

woman holding sanitary pads

But it’s important to note that you shouldn’t use tampons because of the high risk of infection.

Even if you think everything is okay with you, make sure to use maternity pads during this process.

8. Don’t be afraid to use pain medication

Some new moms are probably worried if pain medications will harm their baby when they’re breastfeeding.

If you talk with your obstetrician about breastfeeding and taking painkillers like ibuprofen or Advil, he will tell you which ones are safe for you to take.

 Woman taking medication pills

Don’t feel bad for taking something that will help you function better. If you’re in pain, you won’t be able to take care of your little one.

So, you can take medications for as long as you’re in pain, but make sure you don’t overdo it. Your C section wound will get better every day if you listen to what your doctor advised you.

So, it’s okay if you take some painkillers in the first days, but once you feel that it’s getting better, stop taking them.

That way you’ll be able to track the healing process better. After 6 weeks you’ll be able to do things on your own and you won’t be needing other people’s help anymore.

9. Sneeze and cough easier by putting your hand on your C section area

Sneezing and coughing after having a cesarean section can be very nasty.

That’s why a good tip is to put your hand on the incision area and try to sneeze without much movement.

It’s normal that you feel some pain – after all, you had major abdominal surgery! – but in this way, it won’t hurt so much.

You should know that any physical activity that includes your abdominal muscles being active will hurt after the C section, whether it be sneezing, coughing, or just using the stairway.

That’s why you need to make it easier for yourself, especially in those first days. Don’t be afraid to ask for some help.

That doesn’t mean that you are not a good mom, it just means that you’re a human being.

10. Postpartum depression isn’t a swear word

Postpartum depression is something many moms don’t like to talk about. But you need to bear in mind that it’s not your fault and that things like this happen.

1 out of 10 women suffer from postpartum depression in the United States.

There are many factors that influence whether or not it will happen. When a new baby arrives, some moms don’t know if everything will turn out fine.

Some can’t breastfeed, for example, and they feel bad about it. They think that they are lousy moms because they can’t give their little one that liquid gold that they need so much.

But that is far from the truth. You can feed your baby with formula and still be an awesome mom.

Postpartum Anxiety: One mom's story

If you feel that you don’t recognize yourself anymore and that you’re moody more times than not, ask for professional help.

Your family and friends can help you a bit, but a good therapist will know how to talk to you and help you overcome this period by giving you tools to cope and become the old you again.

You have nothing to be ashamed of because things like this are normal for the state you’re in. And the most important thing is it can be solved really fast if you ask for some help on time.

11. Make sure to have a balanced diet

After giving birth, you don’t need to just take care of your baby, but yourself as well. If you don’t eat well, you won’t have enough milk.

If you don’t drink enough liquid during the day, it will affect milk production. So, as you can see, it’s all about you in the end.

That’s why you need to make sure to have a balanced diet that’s loaded with the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Woman cooking at home

Also, avoid food that produces gas in your baby. Eating well will help you to recover better and it will help your baby develop normally.

I understand that you won’t have enough time to cook, but don’t be shy to ask your mom or husband to prepare something for you.

That way you’ll include the new dad in the whole process and he won’t feel left out.

Here you go, mom! Now you have some valuable tips for a faster C section recovery.

I’m sure that you’ll be strong and provide your little one with all your love and affection, because that’s what they need the most.

The most important thing is that you enjoy every moment with your little bundle and that you do things that work the best for the both of you.

Also, don’t be ashamed of your C section scar – it’s a medal of honor!

Just remember that you risked your life to give birth to your little one.

And your scar will always remind you of how big a hero you actually are, mom!

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Written by Emma Martinez

Emma Martinez is a midwife with more than 5 years of practice who helps women during and after pregnancy and provides them with all the information needed. She is a natural caregiver and she gives her best to make new moms and their babies feel safe so they could enjoy the best time of their lives.