Whether you’ve made it here pre or post birth, having your c-section recovery essentials on hand will only make things that much easier. Recovery after a cesarean delivery is a lot different than recovering after a vaginal birth. Which means what is needed for you and baby may also differ. Having a major surgery the same time as bringing new life into the world is no easy feat. Planned or emergent, c-section recovery can come with different challenges than a vaginal birth. Knowing that in advance can help better prepare you for what to expect.
C-section recovery essentials from a mom of five
I personally have had three c-sections, two that were an emergency and one planned. While each experience had its own unique challenges here are a few c-section recovery essentials that can helped make the process a little more comfortable.
While the hospital typically prescribes pain meds before you even leave, those will only last so long. With time the worst of the pain will subside, but your body may very well still be sore. Having some over-the-counter pain relievers available at home will come in handy.
* Important to note*
If you are breastfeeding/pumping check with your obstetrician or pediatrician before taking any medications. Some medications can be transmitted via breastmilk and may not be safe for baby.
Going to the bathroom after major abdominal surgery can be uncomfortable, to say the least. And with most narcotic pain medications causing constipation, things can get even worse. Adding in straining, which can cause abdominal pain and discomfort to the mix, makes for one painful cocktail. But that’s where stool softeners can come in handy. Try to take stool softener each day. That with staying hydrated can make going to the bathroom a lot more comfortable.
Even though you did not deliver your baby vaginally you will still have postpartum bleeding. This bleeding can be quite heavy at times, so most new moms prefer disposable underwear. Im a fan of the the mesh underwear they provide you with at the hospital until the bleeding subsides. But once you get home, that may be hard to find. But don’t sleep on Depends. Especially at night, when things tend to get extra messy.
I often get crazy looks when I recommend them, but Depends truly are a life saver. They hold more, are super comfy and you don’t have to worry about any leaking. Perfect for postpartum when you have enough on your plate.
Maternity pads are larger than traditional maxi pads and they fit well in disposable underwear. These pads are great for those first couple of weeks of postpartum bleeding which can be quite heavy. After the first week or two, your bleeding should become less and darker in color. At this point, you will be able to use overnight or regular maxi pads, if you prefer. I personally used Depends for my entire postpartum bleeding period.
*Important to note*
If bleeding becomes heavier, or a brighter red in color, content your OBGYN. This could be a sign that you need to reduce your activity a little bit. Which I know is easier said than done. But please remember, you are taking care of a newborn AND recovering from major surgery.
If you would like to keep your c-section scar as small and light as possible, adding some scar prevention strips or cream to your postpartum c-section recovery is essential. The scar may be tender, tingling, numb, or itch for up to a year after your surgery. While all of these things are normal, these strips help alleviate some of that. If your incision causes pain after the initial healing period, you will need to let your obstetrician check it.
An abdominal binder is an essential for c-section recovery because it can help you be a LOT more comfortable. The binder helps to provide you with support and compression on your abdomen and around the incision site. The compression and support can help you to move around. Making it easier for you to care for your newborn as you recover. In my experience some hospitals will provide one prior to your discharge. However one of my cesarean births I did not receive one.
Boppy Nursing Pillow
There are several nursing pillows out there to choose from and they all have their pros and cons. The Boppy pillow tends to be the favorite of new moms who are recovering from a c-section. And a favorite of mine. It doesn’t matter if you are breastfeeding or not, the Boppy pillow fits comfortably around your waist. It can provide support to your abdomen and your baby during any kind of feeding.
Loose Fitting Clothing
Any clothing that presses tightly against your abdomen is going to be uncomfortable. Stretchy, loose-fitting clothing will be your best bet for the first few months after your delivery. Many new moms choose to skip pants completely when they are at home and instead wear a soft, loose nursing gown and a robe.
Freezer Meals are essential for recovery
C-section or not, having pre-made meals after birth is a God spend. Filling your freezer with meals that you enjoy before delivery will make mealtime much smoother. You can create some of your own using some freezer safe containers. Or you can request friends and family drop by with their favorite frozen meals once baby arrives. This way you know that you have meals that you love to eat that are quick and easy to heated up. Which ever method you choose, consider having a double batch of a few of your favorite soups, stews, or casseroles.
Getting in and out of the bed after a c-section can be quite uncomfortable. Having a place for your new baby to sleep right beside your bed can be quite helpful. Newborns need to eat every couple of hours so having them safe and cozy right next to your bed can make things easier on you for feedings. And it helps with being able to keep a close eye on them. To lessen some of those momma worries we all get.
Moving around a lot after a c-section is uncomfortable, and your body needs to heal. Stairs are not recommended more than once per day during the first few weeks of a c-section recovery. So if you have some in your home, consider setting up a central feeding / changing station. Something as simple as a rolling cart would be perfect. It’s portable and has lots of shelves to hold everything you and baby need.
Your feeding and changing station should have diapers, wipes, extra clothes for you and baby, diaper rash cream, and burp cloths. If you are breastfeeding you will want to include some breast pads and some nipple cream. You will be doing a lot of feeding and changing so a bottle of water and snacks are not a bad idea either!
Help from Family and Friends is the perfect c-section recovery essential
Taking care of a newborn baby while recovering from major surgery is a LOT. It’s a lot physically and emotionally and you will need the help, love, and support of your partner, friends, and family. You will not be able to do everything on your own so accept help when/if people offer it. Your friend comes over to see the baby, asks if they can load or unload the dishwasher for you. Your mother-in-law asks if she can drop some groceries off or watch the baby while you take a nap? Say yes!
Many of these c-section recovery essentials are the same as they are for a vaginal delivery, but some of them are specifically for moms who are recovering after a c-section. Even if you’ve had a c-section before, things can change so knowing what you may need and what to expect can make the experience ten times better. C-section recovery essentials can also differ from person to person. Based on personal experience. If you have any suggestion leave them in the comments below!