Tips for C-Section Recovery

Tips for C-Section Recovery

After months of waiting, meeting your new baby is an incredibly exciting moment. Whether you had a lengthy or speedy labor, or a vaginal or C-section delivery, your body will need time to recover. We help you navigate the cesarean section recovery process by answering some common questions you might have, along with some simple tips to help you in the early days following birth.

What do you need for cesarean recovery and what happens after birth?

Rest

The most important part of recovery from surgery is rest. Your body endured a lot to get to this point and you’ll likely notice a lot of changes happening in a short period of time. You may find it difficult to get enough sleep with a newborn at home, you’ll be feeding your baby regularly, and probably trying to see friends and family who want to meet your little one. However, don’t be tempted to take on too much, and try to sleep whenever your baby does. Your body will have been through a lot with the C-section surgery and rest is one of the best ways to promote healing. It’s important to note that you should not drive for 4-6 weeks post C-section.

Take care of stitches and scarring

Taking care of your wound is an important part of cesarean section recovery. After your baby has been delivered, you’ll have a dressing over your scar, which is typically removed between 24 and 48 hours later. Instead of your normal underwear, you might want to try something created specifically for C-section healing, like mesh underwear, that is comfortable against your skin and your healing scar. You’ll need to keep your wound clean and dry to prevent infection. You can shower or bathe normally and clean your wound with regular soap and water, but make sure you dry it gently and expose it to air. You shouldn’t apply any creams or ointments to the wound until your doctor tells you it’s fully healed.

Whether you’ve had a C-section or vaginal birth, you can expect some vaginal discharge. This is normal and could last for weeks. You’ll notice the discharge is red and heavy for the first few days, then it should become watery and change from pinkish brown to yellowish white. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor.

Nourish your body with healthy foods

Following a diet that nourishes your body is always a good idea. However, did you know that certain vitamins and minerals can actually help you heal? Proteins often found in lean meats, tofu, fish, nuts and seeds, plus the vitamins and minerals found in fresh fruit and vegetables (especially 

rich leafy greens such as kale and spinach) can help to encourage a healthy recovery. In some cultures, ginger and turmeric-rich recipes are thought to help encourage the healing process. Plenty of whole grains, such as whole-grain pasta, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and whole-wheat cereals will help to give you the fiber you need to go to the bathroom regularly, as pain-relief medication can often make your bowels a little sluggish.

Find comfortable feeding positions

After your surgery, you might find breastfeeding uncomfortable, especially after your pain medication wears off. Try to find a comfortable position to feed your little one that also puts the least pressure on your wound. You could try a side lying position or a football hold with your baby supported by a breastfeeding pillow or even the cradle or crossover hold with a pillow on your lap and your newborn lying on top.

No heavy lifting

In the early days of recovering from your C-section, try to keep everything you and your baby need within easy reach, as too much movement could affect the time it takes for your scar to heal. In the first few weeks, try to avoid lifting anything that’s too heavy or puts unnecessary strain on your body. Treating yourself with extra care, to give your body the best chance of a good recovery, is key at this time, so use whatever support you need!

How long is recovery time for a C-section?

Every individual’s body heals at different rates, however, research states that cesarean recovery can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks or even longer. Remember that there is no right or wrong amount of time for your body to heal from a major surgery such as this one. Be sure to discuss the process and create scheduled checkups with your physician.

Incorporating movement and exercise after surgery

When you can exercise will depend on the type of birth you’ve had. If you’ve had an uncomplicated pregnancy and vaginal delivery, it’s generally safe to start some very gentle exercise a few days after birth or when you feel up to it. If you’re recovering from a C-section or you had a complicated birth, you’ll probably need to wait anywhere from 6-8 weeks before returning to normal exercise levels. In any case, you should always talk to your doctor who will advise you as to when it’s safe to resume any exercise.

Sex

Before resuming intercourse, check in with yourself and scan how your body feels. Most obstetricians will recommend women wait anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks before engaging in intercourse again, but this will of course also depending on how your body has healed. It will still take about 6 weeks for your cervix to close completely, which is helpful to keep in mind as you plan.

Potential recovery interruptions: symptoms to watch for

During the recovery period, it’s a good idea to stay in contact with your doctor so that they can monitor your progress. If you experience any of these symptoms while you’re at home recovering, you should contact your doctor immediately, as they could be signs of something more serious:

  • Severe pain in your abdomen
  • Leaking urine
  • Pain while peeing
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding that is different to post-partum bleeding
  • A red, swollen or painful wound
  • A discharge of pus or foul-smelling fluid from your wound
  • A cough or shortness of breath
  • Swelling or pain in your lower leg

Recovering from childbirth is no easy feat! It's important for moms to feel supported throughout their pregnancy journey and understand what’s to come. Learn more about C-section prep tips and what to expect so you've got all your bases covered.