We’ll get straight to it; c-section recovery looks very different from recovery from vaginal birth.
We’re talking somewhere around a two-day hospital stay minimum with the potential for longer depending on how you are healing.
And even after you head home with baby, you’ll still need time to heal and recover physically.
Yep, a c-section is a pretty major surgery.
But anticipating what your recovery may look like can ensure you get the help you need, if necessary.
Chances are you’ll be anxious to heal and spend as much time as possible with your precious new baby, so here’s eleven quick c-section recovery tips from our Peanut community to ease the journey ahead.
In this article: 📝
- Do and don’ts after c-section delivery
- How long does pain last after c-section?
- What activities should be avoided after c-section?
- How soon after c section can you get pregnant?
- How do you know if you’re overdoing it after c-section?
Do and don’ts after c-section delivery
So what should you do ‒ and shouldn’t you do ‒ after having a c-section delivery?
Well, these are the top 11 tips from our c-section peanut mamas:
1. Rest as much as possible
We know, you probably just laughed out loud reading that.
It can be really difficult to meet the demanding needs of a newborn while also tending to your recovery.
But many moms who have c-sections highly recommend laying low for as long as possible and getting as much rest as you can while you have some help around the house.
Maybe a friend or family member is coming to stay with you after the arrival of your baby, or your husband took extended paternity leave so he could be available to help as much as possible.
Or your best friend offered to take your older child for a few days… just live it up and get some rest while you can. You’ll be so glad you did!
If someone had a major operation, just like a c-section is, you would not expect them to bounce back straight away and get on with life.
Your big advice would be to rest, so make sure you listen to your own wise words.
How long should you rest after c-section?
To be honest, as much as you can, without compromising your or your baby’s health.
If you can even get a few minutes here and there, it’ll do wonders.
It’s important to note that rest does not mean staying bed-bound the whole time, this can slow down recovery and also increase the risk of blood clots.
But it can take six weeks before your c-section scar fully recovers.
How should I sleep after c-section?
It’s recommended to sleep on your left side when recovering from a c-section, to help with blood flow and digestion.
But a pillow might also be a welcome addition, to provide extra support.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
No one expects you to be Super Mom, and it’s just unrealistic to have that expectation of yourself.
Before you even head home from the hospital, remind yourself that you’ll need time to physically recover so you can be the best mom you can be.
C-section recovery time varies greatly for everyone.
This process will require humbling yourself enough to accept some help and even ask for it if it’s not offered.
Whether you ask your partner, a friend, a parent, or your church family, you might be surprised by how much people are willing and happy to help.
3. Take the pain relievers your doctor prescribes
You don’t have to wait for the pain to become intolerable before taking those painkillers your doctor gave you.
If you’re not accustomed to taking medication like that, it’s understandable that you’d have reservations.
But when it’s all said and done, it’s not worth suffering through intense pain or being unable to care for your newborn simply because you don’t want to take a pill.
The painkillers will help, but if you find that you can’t tolerate them, contact your doctor and ask about alternative medications or pain management techniques.
There is no magic recovery time for c-sections, and a body that’s not firing pain signals heals more quickly.
4. Beware of laughing, coughing, sneezing…
Just a heads up… these activities may cause some pain.
The first time you try to laugh or cough after you have a c-section may feel pretty unpleasant, especially if you’re not anticipating the discomfort.
However, your stitches will not pull apart (that would have to be some pretty serious laughing or coughing).
But if you find yourself unable to prevent a sneeze, grab a pillow, place it over your stitches, and gently hold your abdomen to protect your stitches and soothe any pain.
(This trick is also so helpful when you’re trying to get up from a sitting position to a standing position.)
Of course, all of this discomfort will eventually go away, but during the first few days back home, it can be pretty uncomfortable.
5. Get outside to walk often
Your doctor will likely encourage you to be active as soon as you can after labor, but that doesn’t mean you have to go all out with your exercise.
Simply getting outside to take a walk each day is a great way to stay physically active, help your body heal, and reduce the risk of constipation and blood clots.
Not to mention, taking short walks around your neighborhood is an excellent way to boost your mental health.
How long does it take to walk after c-section?
Most doctors recommend walking a little within 24 hours of a c-section.
While this might seem like a daunting task, know that you can take your own pace and stop whenever you want.
How far can you walk 3 weeks after c-section?
It depends ‒ some moms can walk about 30 minutes 3 weeks after a c-section, others 5 minutes.
Just don’t push yourself too much, mama.
A little walking is great, but try not to overdo it. Take it at your own pace.
6. Know the signs of infection
In the first few days after you get home from the hospital, it’s very important to know the signs of infection and watch closely for them.
It’s normal for your incision to feel sore and you may have some bleeding or discharge for up to six weeks after delivery.
However, certain things are not normal with a c-section recovery and could be signs of an infection, including:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Chest pain or pain in your breasts
- Difficulty breathing
- Bad-smelling vaginal discharge
- Redness, swelling, or pus oozing from the incision site
If you notice any of these signs, call your doctor right away.
By keeping the area dry after washing (drying it with a hair dryer or dapping it dry) and wearing loose comfortable clothing to allow it to breathe, you reduce the risk of infection to the incision site.
How do I know my c-section scar is healing?
Even as soon as 2 weeks, your c-section scar should have a visible improvement, which is a clear sign of its healing process.
But if you do have any signs of infection, get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible.
7. Use post-c-section-friendly nursing positions
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, the c-section recovery process can pose some extra challenges in addition to the typical ones new mothers face while trying to learn how to breastfeed.
Holding your baby against your incision site can be painful, so instead, try holding your little one like a football while nursing or use the side-lying position to avoid putting any pressure on your stitches.
Can I breastfeed after c-section?
Yes, you certainly can, but try to avoid using your core too much when supporting baby while breastfeeding ‒ a reclined position can be a great option.
8. Find new ways to show your older children love and affection while you recover.
While you’re recovering from a c-section at home, your toddler may not fully understand why you can’t hold them.
It’s generally advised not to engage in heavy lifting (more than your newborn baby) for six weeks after surgery.
After all, you were gone for so long at the hospital, and they missed you!
It may be difficult for you to show your love and affection to your older children while you’re recovering, especially if you can’t pick your little ones up.
However, finding small ways to show them that you still love them will go a long way to reassure them and will also soothe your mama heart while you heal.
9. Shower, but don’t scrub your incisions
Although you won’t be able to take a bath for a little while after you have a c-section, you can still take a shower.
Just let the warm, sudsy water run over your incision and avoid scrubbing the area.
However, you’ll definitely want to make sure your partner is nearby for that first shower because if you drop your bottle of soap while you’re in there, it’s not a good idea to bend down to get it.
You’ll need an extra set of hands to help with that one!
When can I shower after a c-section?
Anytime you want, as long as it’s after 24 hours of your c-section surgery, as you’ll be wearing a bandage over the incision while it heals.
10. Don’t plan on driving anywhere for a couple of weeks
You won’t be able to drive for at least two weeks after you have a c-section in the USA and six weeks in the UK.
Assuming you don’t have anywhere pressing to be that soon after delivering a new baby, this probably won’t be a big issue.
But it’s nice to know ahead of time if you didn’t already!
11. Try not to compare your c-section recovery to anyone else’s
If you have friends or family members who have had a c-section delivery, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making comparisons.
This can make it more difficult to recover at your own pace and in your own way.
No matter how tempting it is to compare your own c-section recovery experience to someone else’s, try to remember that everyone’s experience is different and that’s how it’s supposed to be.
How long does pain last after c-section?
As we’ve said before, a c-section is a major surgery, so unfortunately, some pain during recovery is expected.
You’ll likely be prescribed some medication to help manage the pain, which is a good idea to take as advised.
But your initial pain during your postpartum recovery should start to go away after about three days, although the area will feel tender for 3-6 weeks.
When does c-section pain peak?
Usually, the pain from a c-section is at its worst between 12-24 hours after delivery.
But after about three days, the pain should start to subside.
What activities should be avoided after c-section?
There are a few things that doctors recommend avoiding after a c-section ‒ ideally until about six weeks after:
- Carrying heavy objects (if you have someone else who can carry baby while standing, that can be a great option)
- Having penetrative sex
How soon after c section can you get pregnant?
As with any surgery, there will be a growth of scar tissue around the incision sites.
Usually, after one c-section, you can try having a vaginal delivery the next time with some counseling and extra attention from your OBGYN.
But, after two c-sections, it’s generally recommended to have another c-section as there is a higher risk of uterine rupture due to scar tissue build-up.
It’s also recommended not to get pregnant 18-24 months after having a baby.
Your fertility kicks back 3-4 weeks after delivery. It’s obviously your choice, but your body needs some time to heal. Plus it might be physically difficult to take care of a newborn while pregnant.
How do you know if you’re overdoing it after c-section?
It’s a good idea to be on the lookout for any of the infection symptoms we listed above.
If you do have any of those, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Ultimately, having support around you, whether it’s friends, family, or even other moms online, can make all the difference when it comes to your c-section recovery.
And if you have any questions, feel free to ask our community of c-section mamas.
You’re not alone.