Smart Recovery Tips From C-Section

Having a caesarean is a major operation so you’ll need to take it easy afterwards. Here we share some caesarean birth recovery tips to help you heal.

C-section Recovery Time

With a new baby to care for, you’ll probably be anxious to get back on your feet—but recovery after a c-section can take some time. “In general, full recovery from a cesarean section is about six weeks,” says Kecia Gaither, MD, director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals-Lincoln in the Bronx, New York. You’re likely to feel the brunt of it during your hospital stay (women are typically in the hospital for two to four days following a c-section).

But even once you’re home, c-section recovery can be both physically and psychologically complicated: Aside from self-care, you need to tend to the tiny newborn. “I tell new moms to honor their own recovery and make sure to get as much help as possible,” says Erica Chidi Cohen, a doula and author of Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood and Trusting Yourself and Your Body. “For a lot of women, a cesarean may be their first surgery. It’s important to listen to a doctor’s advice and not overdo things.”

C-Section Recovery Tips

We quizzed doctors and new moms who’ve been through it all on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to speeding up the c-section recovery process. Here are their top tips.

• Prep before your surgery. If you’re having a planned c-section, Cohen recommends preparing your house as much as possible beforehand. “Tall beds may be uncomfortable, and stairs may be tricky,” she says. Deciding where you’ll sleep and store your necessities can go a long way in making your c-section recovery easier for the first couple of weeks.

• Take it easy. It may be the single piece of advice everyone, from your OB to your mother-in-law, is on board with. Rest is essential to your c-section recovery. That said, “take it easy” doesn’t mean “lie in bed.” Short, easy walks around the house, yard or neighborhood block can help you heal.

• Consider a belly band. “Cesarean section binders function to keep your abdominal musculature supported,” Gaither says. “They’re not necessary, but some women feel more comfortable with some external support.” But while there are moms that swear by them, others find them itchy, constraining or ineffective. Your hospital might offer options for free, so ask your doctor about them. “[My hospital] gave me a belly binder, but they only gave it to me because I asked,” says Nadia, a mom of three.

• Drink plenty of water. Fluids can help minimize constipation and keep things moving.

• Get some sleep. “It’s so important to remember that in order to be a great mom, you have to take care of yourself,” Cohen says. “That means if someone else can hold the baby and you can rest, then absolutely do so.”

• Accept help. Whether it’s hiring a postpartum doula, a night nurse or taking a family member up on their offer to stay the night, do it. “I always tell new moms to accept the help that’s offered,” Cohen says. Be realistic about your needs during your c-section recovery and speak up when you could use an extra hand.

• Talk about your feelings. The hormonal roller coaster after any form of childbirth is real, but it can be especially rough if a c-section wasn’t in your original birth plan. “You could potentially have mommy guilt about not delivering vaginally. I definitely did,” says Jennifer, a mom of two. “Some other moms may try to make you feel bad about it. Don’t listen!” If you’re feeling sad, helpless or hopeless, or having feelings of guilt or anger, talk with your doctor, who can help come up with the best course of treatment.

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