C-Section Recovery: Everything You Need To Know But Were Afraid To Ask

Are you expecting your first child? Here’s a recap of how my first labor experience and c-section recovery along with tips to keep in mind after having a c-section.

This post is part of the Giving Birth Series. It contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using any of the links below, then I will receive a percentage from the sale.

My C-Section recovery was painful, but with a c-section recovery kit, I was able to get through the tough moments.

The months leading up to giving birth are one of the scariest moments when you’re expecting for the first time. I remember planning a birth that had nothing to do with a Caesarean birth or an epidural.

Things quickly changed after I was rushed to the hospital at 38 weeks with our first child.

I had a scheduled ultrasound and check-up with my doctor the day I was told to head to the hospital. My OB/GYN had requested to keep an eye on the amniotic fluid since was odd.

One week it was a bit low, the following normal, and the other test showed it was steady.

On that day I would get the news that my fluid was at 2.8. I was off to my doctor’s office and Googled what this meant in the car ride.

I couldn’t find anything and was a bit frustrated.

My husband told me not to worry and that we’d talk to the doctor about it and he’ll explain everything. We also made the decision to stop by the house and pick up our hospital bag and leave Rocky, our Siberian husky, with some water and dinner in case I’d go into labor.

18 Hours Of Labor And A C-Section

I went to my OB/GYN’s office and met with my doctor. One of the front desk receptionists came in and said, “We got the results from the ultrasound. We made a note.”

The doctor looked at me and said. “This could be it.”

I had two editorial meetings at the office that day and a call with a company CEO for a feature I was working on.

I wasn’t prepared, but fortunately, it was a Thursday and my husband was off from work.

The doctor checked me and said I was 3 centimeters dilated and that I was going to the “white place” as he called it.

I was terrified.

I didn’t want to leave work unfinished nor did I feel prepared to go into labor. Then again, I didn’t think I was prepared to get pregnant either so I calmed my nerves by thinking of this.

I remember calling a colleague almost in tears because I was so scared of what was to come.

My husband held my hand to reassure me everything was going to be okay. We arrived at the hospital and my husband dropped me off to look for parking.

I walked through the sliding doors, went to the admitting floor, and signed myself in. I waited about 30-45 mins for them to prepare the room.

I was excited, nervous, and scared — all at once.

I did my best to cope with the contractions (which in all honesty weren’t that bad). It just felt like your stomach was tightening up for a few seconds.

I was given Pitocin to help make the contractions stronger so that I’d go into labor. I spent almost the entire day on that hospital bed — 18 hours to be exact.

My doctor checked me again.

He said I only reached 6 centimeters and that I needed an emergency c-section because my pelvis was too small to push him out.

Disappointed and frustrated, I prepared myself. My husband went with me and held my hand once again.

I was given an epidural — also known as the worst pinch I had ever felt in my life. Fortunately, the anesthesia worked instantly.

I felt movements as they prepared me for the operation. It was very uncomfortable.

My husband continued to hold my hand throughout the entire procedure, reminding me that everything will be fine — even after he watched them pull out my organs and place them to the side.

How Long Does A Typical C-Section Recovery Take?

The doctor showed me the little guy over the drape. I was too drugged up to pay attention.

My husband was a bit choked up when he said the words, “Baby, he’s beautiful.” I wanted to react but I couldn’t. What I needed was rest.

Before going into the operating room, I was asked if I’d be breastfeeding or using formula. Without hesitation, I said I’d be breastfeeding. I wasn’t aware that I’d be feeding him right after birth.

I was rolled into the recovery room and the nurse and my husband helped me up. Before she stepped out she said she would bring the baby for me to feed.

Exhausted and moody, I regretted the conversation of breastfeeding prior to surgery.

When he was placed into my arms I snapped out of those emotions. I was no longer tired, I just wanted him with me forever.

Our newborn latched on to my nipple and I knew we would forever have a special bond.

Walking was tough the first couple of tries, but once I applied the hospital girdle I received for my surgery, it was a blessing to move around.

Using the abdominal binder helped lift my belly and remove the pressure from the wound. If you get a chance to snag one of these on Amazon, then I recommend it. I will say that when I mentioned getting this from the hospital, many other moms said they never got one.

Going to the bathroom wasn’t easy the first couple of times after having surgery. Two things that helped me were lower back massages and drinking plenty of water.

You’re given 8 weeks after giving birth to recover from a c-section. However, it takes longer for the internal scars to heal.

This is one of the reasons why you need to take it easy the following months after the surgery. It took me at least two years to start to feel “normal” again. The side pains were unbearable at times.

What Are The Dos And Don’ts After C-Section?

After having a C-Section, you may feel an urge to do more for yourself and your newborn. However, this is the best time to rely on family and friends for a speedy recovery.

Aside from the pains of childbirth, you’ll also need to take care of postpartum changes happening to your body. Below are the 10 Dos and Don’ts after a c-section:

  1. Plan your postpartum checkups. Not only are you responsible for another human being, but you need to take responsibility for your own recovery as well. Checkups with your doctor will help you know how you’re doing.
    You may need to reach out to your doctor for other reasons if you experience redness, swelling, or bleeding from the incision. Other symptoms you shouldn’t take lightly are excessive pain, difficulty breathing, heavy vaginal bleeding, and bad-smelling discharge from your vagina.
  2. Eat nutritious meals. Whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you’ll need to focus on your health. The type of foods you eat will help make you stronger and decrease your recovery time. Make sure you have someone to assist you with feedings.
  3. Sleep as often as possible. Your body experienced a serious trauma with the procedure. You’ll need plenty of rest to recooperate your strength.
    The average hospital stay is about 2-4 days after a c-section. Make use of the time you have there and relax while others take care of you.
  4. Avoid lifting anything heavier than your child. At first, it might be difficult to lift yourself up from the bed, but you’ll need to work on those muscles to help you care for yourself and your baby.
  5. Walk as often as possible. Your lower body may feel wiggly at first, but you’ll need to move your body to help get your strength up again.
  6. No sexual activities. It’s recommended that you wait off until after you’ve seen your doctor during your 6-week check-up. It’ll be painful at first, but you’ll have to find ways to make it work for you and your partner.
  7. Pay attention to the signs. Pain during your recovery is normal. However, if you feel constipated you can reach out to your doctor for a prescription. Make sure to drink plenty of water during the day to help you stay hydrated.
  8. Talk to your healthcare provider. You should reach out to your doctor while you’re still at the hospital to know what’s the best care for c-section recovery. Your nurse can also be a great help as well.
  9. Keep necessary items nearby. Having what you need close to you can prevent having to move around as often. You can plan ahead for diaper changes and bathing your little one.
  10. Take showers instead of baths. You won’t be able to wet your incision or dip into a bath for a few months while it heals. You can choose showers or wash yourself with a wet rag and soap.

What To Eat After C-Section For Fast Recovery?

Having someone to help you while you recover from a c-section delivery is important. It’s a great way to gain back your strength and be able to care for your newborn with little assistance.

There are a number of ways you can speed up the recovery process. One of these options is by eating the right foods.

Iron-rich foods like spinach, chicken, and nuts are a great start. You can choose easy-to-digest meals like soup and yogurt that contain iron-rich options.

Foods that contain multiple vitamins can be helpful as well. Fruits and vegetables can be easily digested when cut into smaller pieces or cooked.

C-Section Recovery Kit For Moms

Recovering from a c-section sounds tough. Getting up from your bed alone isn’t easy for new moms who’ve had this surgery.

I remember the pain I felt every time I laughed or would sneeze. It was as if someone was stabbing my insides.

Thinking back to the experience, I was glad I had asked my OB/GYN about the essential items I would need during my recovery Below is a list of 4 things you’ll need after a c-section:

1. Heavy flow sanitary pads

These plant-based sanitary pads help minimize discomfort by reducing inflammation. It has aloe vera and mint to help with soreness and pain.

2. A good scar cream

Having scar cream handy will help reduce the appearance of your incision. It also helps with the healing process as well. Mederma was the one my doctor recommended and it’s the one I prefer for other scars as well.

3. Two pairs of comfortable underwear

Comfort is everything after having a c-section. You want to make sure you’ve got handy are high-waisted underwear that will help keep your sanitary pad in place. This postpartum underwear also has tummy control and is perfect for leaving the hospital.

4. Pain killers are good to have handy as well.

Although I didn’t use pain killers much after we left the hospital, I will admit that many other moms who’ve had this surgery said they prefer using pain killers to help cope with recovering.

Do you know anyone who has experienced c-section recovery?

If you enjoyed this post, head over to other parts of this series. Below are other installments of the Giving Birth Series:

First Trimester Tips You Need To Know
Second Trimester Tips For First-Time Moms
Third Trimester Tips: What You Need To Know Before Going Into Labor
5 Baby Registry Items You Won’t Need And Those You Don’t Think Of Adding
Why Choose Multifunctional Baby Products

38 Comments

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    […] I’ve mentioned how our little Superman saved us, and everything we went through on “the Big Day,” but nothing compares to the way he makes us feel each […]

    1. Dr Surabhi

      I too had a c section! It wasn’t that painful as I thought. I recovered completely in approximately a week. Great tips in this post

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    […] You often hear about the perks of motherhood, but there is nothing like witnessing your child’s first breath, or holding them close after hours of labor. I know because I experienced every possible emotion on the big day. […]

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    Motivation Monday: Love Your Baby Bump | Motherhood Through My Eyes

    […] time I see it. After giving birth to my son I knew I would have a permanent scar — after all, I had a C-section. That was the least of my worries. For me, the scar is a reminder of the bundle of love that now […]

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  5. Brianne

    I will never forget the births of my kids. I gave birth to three, and the feeling of wonder and joy never diminished. Neither did some of the fear. It’s a scary prospect to give birth.

  6. Tara Pittman (@momknowsbest15)

    I had a c-section with my first. Recovery is harder for sure

  7. Laura

    Aw mama, I’m sorry you didn’t get the birth you had prepared for. That’s one of the hardest things to face when you’re in the thick of it. I found labor to be hard. It’s all worth it in the end! 🙂

  8. Kathy

    I didn’t experience this myself, but I know many who have. A lot of my family members had to have c-sections. Hearing from them they say the recovery is a long one. I think that list will be very helpful too. Those are certainly products you’d want to have.

  9. Celebrate Woman (@DiscoverSelf)

    What a powerful story of love and connection. So precious.

    1. bigzubi

      Your joy seeps through your wonderful words, “When he was placed into my arms I snapped out of those emotions. I was no longer tired, I just wanted him with me forever.” I wish you the best of times with your family.

  10. Sherry

    Going into labor before you expect is scary. Both of my children were born premature. I didn’t have a c-section but my cousin’s wife did. I know she felt helpless not being able to do things.

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