C-Section Recovery Timeline
Are you recovering from a c-section delivery and wondering what your first 6 postpartum weeks will be like? Here is a c-section recovery timeline to help new moms recover quickly and know what to expect!
I just had my fourth c-section. Yes, my fourth!
As I sit here 3 weeks postpartum, I wanted to write down all the feelings I’ve had emotionally and physically during my c-section recovery timeline.
This was something I always wished I had done before. For some reason, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been through this, certain things you can’t remember, or maybe we just block them out. Either way, I hope this can answer some questions other moms have after their c-section.
Because to be honest, it’s painful and it’s damn hard…but we soon forget.
We forget because we are so busy taking care of our babies and other children and trying to take care of ourselves in the process. So, I want to share with you the c-section recovery timeline wee-by-week to answer any questions you have that I myself have googled over and over again!
The biggest question you’ll have is, “When will I feel normal again?” I swear to you, no matter how many times I’ve gone through this, I ask this question each day during my c-section recovery!
Every woman’s postpartum c-section recovery timeline may be different depending on your circumstances. However, I thought I’d share with you my personal experience after having 4 c-section deliveries.
Week 1 Post C-Section
The first 24 hours after your c-section are by far the hardest. You will literally have to learn how to sit up and stand again with assistance from your wonderful nurses! You can read more about what to expect during a c-section delivery here for more details.
Depending on if you had an emergency c-section or not, it may make your recovery more difficult. If you were in labor for several hours prior to your c-section, that can also make recovery more painful as well.
Once you are able to walk around a bit in the hospital, take a shower, pass gas or have a bowel movement, and lift the baby by yourself, your doctors will discharge you from the hospital.
During this last c-section, I was able to leave earlier than in my other c-sections. This was mostly because I pushed myself to walk more and I also wanted to get home where I knew I would get more rest. However, the one thing I missed the most once I got home, was the hospital bed!
Getting Out Of Bed After A C-Section
Your first week home is difficult because your stomach muscles don’t work just yet. It’s very hard to get in and out of bed. This was the worst part for me after all of my c-sections.
Buying a pillow like the one below is a HUGE help!
Or you can try these wedge pillows that help even more:
Even with the help of these pillows, I still needed assistance getting out of bed the first week. Thankfully, my husband was around this time but after I had my second and third, he wasn’t home so the pillows were a must-have!
Breastfeeding Help After A C-Section
And now you get to learn how to breastfeed your baby!
If you are breastfeeding, then you will need extra help picking up your baby at night. I wasn’t able to nurse my baby laying down on my side after my first and second c-sections for a while. My muscles were not ready to move that way just yet!
After my third and fourth c-sections, I was able to breastfeed my baby laying on my side about 4 days after delivery. This, of course, can be different for everyone.
A breastfeeding pillow is also a necessity after a c-section. It will not only help you breastfeed your newborn but the pillow will protect your incision from the baby kicking or bumping you!
Postpartum Pain Relief during C-section Recovery
You will be in a lot of pain during your first week home. Stay on top of your Motrin or whatever kind of ibuprofen you are taking! You will notice as soon as you miss a dose of ibuprofen, the pain will come back fast!
My doctor often asked me if I wanted something stronger like Tylenol with codeine. I never took it because normally the ibuprofen worked fine. I also get very tired when I take anything stronger and only stick with ibuprofen, but do what works best for you!
Be sure to take your ibuprofen every 5 1/2- 6 hours! Set a timer so you don’t forget it!
Get the gel caps of whatever brand you are buying because they work the fastest!
Below is my favorite!
If you’d rather try a more natural pain reliever, this one below is great! Always ask your doctor first before taking anything new.
Postpartum Wrap after C-Section
At week one, your stomach should look like you’re about 5-6 months pregnant. You may not want to look at your incision right away and that is fine!
Every day your scar will improve, just give it time!
Be sure to wash your stomach with a mild soap while in the shower and just let the soap rinse down on your incision. Then pat it dry when you get out of the shower. Make sure it is completely dry when you get dressed.
A postpartum wrap helped me a great deal during the first few weeks after my c-sections!!
Your stomach muscles feel so strange and it’s as if you need support to hold it all up. This may sound crazy but once you put on a wrap or wear some type of support underwear, you’ll notice the difference immediately and be thankful for it!
Always talk to your doctor about wearing anything first and make sure your incision is completely dry before wearing any clothes.
The one below is my favorite because it’s 3 wraps that can be used for different weeks during pregnancy and postpartum. Such a great deal and so worth it!
This one is awesome and I’ve also used this belly wrap below. This is only used for postpartum days.
I also recommend getting a c-panty which not only gives you extra support but has this smooth silicone panel and won’t aggravate your incision. This allows you to wear other clothes over the c-panty comfortably.
Stool Softeners After a C-Section
Be sure to take a stool softener your first few weeks postpartum! Normally the hospital should provide you with these during your stay. Once you get home, remember to continue taking them on a daily basis until having a bowel movement is no longer painful or a struggle!
I mention taking these and many other c-section recovery must-haves here!
These are one of the most important items you’ll want to stock up on before you have your baby! Trust me, I learned this the hard way when I didn’t have them after my first baby!
If you aren’t a fan of using stool softeners and would like a more natural remedy, try coconut water! Here is some information about coconut water and its benefits. Yes, coconut water is very healthy and will naturally help move things along!
Here are a few favorites:
Night sweats During Your Postpartum Weeks
I have had night sweats after every c-section. I found out that this is totally normal but not every woman has night sweats after their delivery.
What also surprised me is that out of all my friends, only one out of 5 of them also experienced night sweats and she had a vaginal delivery.
If you are one of us lucky moms who experience this, it is normal and caused by your hormones and all the changes your body has gone through.
My night sweats are usually the worst during the first week postpartum. I wake up and my entire body is wet, even my hair. I end up freezing in the middle of the night to the point that I have to change my shirt and add a few layers!
You wake up in the morning and really feel like you need a shower ASAP! This will also pass after a few weeks.
The best advice I can give to any mom, no matter if you experience night sweats or not, is to drink plenty of fluids after your c-section delivery!
Water is your friend!
Drink as much water, green tea, Gatorade, coconut water, or whatever you like to flush any toxins out of your body the first month after your delivery!
This will not only help you produce more milk if you are breastfeeding, but will also keep you hydrated, and replace any fluids you lost if you are sweating at night.
Drinking a lot of water also helps flush out any toxins in your body. It will also move your bowels along and remove excess gas! You will see your stomach slowly start to go down more and more each day as well by doing this!
Week 2 of C-Section Recovery
By the beginning of week two, you’ll notice getting in and out of bed will become easier and you won’t need as much help as you did the first week!
The pain will still be there, it won’t be as bad and every day it will improve, but trust me, you’ll still need your ibuprofen! I am still having night sweats but have noticed some nights are better than others.
At 2 weeks postpartum, keep taking a stool softener! This will keep things moving along!
Breastfeeding should be easier by week 2 after your c-section. However, if your nipples are still sore and you are just having some difficulty, click here or the photo below for help!
Two things that really helped me breastfeed my baby after a c-section was nipple cream and a nipple shield. I needed both for different reasons and they helped me tremendously with sore nipples!
Incision appearance and c-section scar healing
Your incision will start to look better each day and not quite as scary as the first week!
After my first week of postpartum, I was still wearing my c-panty. However, I had two problems with these. I was constantly washing them and some pants I wore didn’t look good over the c-panty. In this case, I purchased some silicone strips.
These silicone sheets were much like the smooth medical-grade silicone patch that’s inside the c-panty which makes the c-panty so wonderful!
I wore these strips under regular low-cut underwear and they worked great! I was able to wear other pants and clothes comfortably! Jeans with zippers were still not an option for me just yet at 2 weeks postpartum.
Week 3 Post C-Section
I am still taking ibuprofen but not around the clock. I normally take it in the morning when I first get up and it helps get me through the day juggling my kids and doing things around the house.
My stomach is looking better and my scar getting smaller each day.
The pain is not nearly as bad as the weeks before and I can do just about everything. Although, I notice when I happen to do too much walking or cleaning, I will start to bleed more.
I remember my doctor telling me after I had my first baby, if I start bleeding too much, that means I need to chill out and rest more!
Of course, if you do bleed more than normal and start to hemorrhage, this is NOT good, please click here for more information on postpartum bleeding or call your doctor as soon as possible!
I’m still wearing these postpartum pads.
These postpartum pads also come in handy as well depending on what you prefer:
Getting enough rest is the hardest part for a mom of 4 kids! There’s always something to be done around the house and it is difficult for me to sit! However, I know that the more I rest, the quicker I’ll recover and get stronger which is what we all want!
At 3 weeks, my incision still needs to be covered with a c-panty and zippers are still not an option here!
Get yourself a few great pairs of leggings to wear after your c-section! The leggings below are awesome! They have a built-in tummy compression which is great support for after a c-section delivery! I wasn’t able to wear these the first week but they came in handy by my third and fourth week postpartum!
If you are unable to wear the postpartum compression leggings just yet, then rock your maternity leggings! The smooth tummy panel will be comfortable over your incision and you can still wear your postpartum wrap underneath for support! I loved these below!
Remember, comfort is key after your c-section! Check out this post for more of the best clothes to wear after a c-section delivery!
Week 4 Postpartum
I still do not need to take ibuprofen at night but I feel pain in the morning once I’m up and moving! My incision is still sensitive and I’m still not able to wear any jeans with zippers or clothes that rub against it without wearing a c-panty.
Lifting Toddler After A C-Section
The good thing is that I can do almost everything normal except lift my 4-year-old. I did the other day by accident and had felt a lot of pain so I won’t be doing that any time soon!
(If you are taking care of your toddler during your c-section recovery and need some help, click here!)
For more detailed information on lifting after a c-section, read this post here on the Dos and Don’ts After a C-section Delivery!
My incision looks a lot better but the glue my doctor put on it is still there. I never had surgical glue on any of my incisions before this c-section.
Previously, my doctor put small strips on my incision and they came off in the shower much quicker and were all gone by week 4.
The glue doesn’t hurt at all but it just appears dark on my skin so it makes it harder to see exactly how my incision looks. The incision seems to still be dark in color but overall looks better each day.
All swelling is down and gone since the first week. My stomach is looking so much better as well!
I’m still taking a stool softener but every other day, not daily. I’m still bleeding but not as much and can wear a thinner pad instead of those bulky ones they give you in the hospital!
This is a huge plus!
Week 5 Postpartum Cesarean
I can finally say that I do not need to take ibuprofen anymore unless I do a lot of walking or am just overall very active that day. This is awesome!
Please remember, this may be different fo you! This is my fourth c-section, however, I do remember needing ibuprofen for a while after all of my c-section deliveries.
My incision still gets irritated and needs my c-panty or silicone strips under clothing. I’m still wearing yoga pants or comfortable leggings to protect my scar.
Overall, I feel so much better! Sleeping at night on my sides is a breeze! Nursing my baby is easier because I have more strength and am pretty much back to normal except for sensitivity at my incision.
I still have the pregnancy belly line, linea nigra, and I know from previous pregnancies that it takes a few months to fade.
For more information on linea nigra and when that belly line goes away, click here!
Week 6 Postpartum
Ibuprofen is still not needed! There are some afternoons after doing too much that I’ll take it but I’m only taking one gel cap if any at all! And this has happened only once so far this week.
My incision looks good, there is still the glue on it but it is SLOWLY coming off. When I had the small bandaid strips with my last c-sections, they were all off at this point.
My energy is up, I’m eating more, and my baby is getting fatter and fatter which is great! My stomach looks much better and I’m wearing the postpartum belly band at home when I have no place to go.
I’m still wearing the c-panty or silicone strips to protect my incision with certain pants but overall, it’s so much better.
I am still bleeding at 6 weeks but it is super light. I’ve only had to wear a panty liner for the last two weeks, no longer do I need to wear a bulky pad, thankfully!
Overall, I feel great!
No more pains in my stomach, sleeping on my sides have been comfortable, and nursing my baby has been great. I still take my prenatal vitamins, vitamin d3, fish oil, and probiotics.
By the end of week 6, I’m no longer taking ibuprofen at all. I feel great but I still need the silicone strips or c-panty to wear under certain pants.
The glue has not completely come off yet so it’s hard to take a good look at my incision.
My stomach has gone down so much! It’s not exactly where it used to be but it’s getting better every day.
For my postpartum checkup, I felt pretty great! I was still spotting a bit here and there but overall felt awesome! My doctor went over everything with me and asked if I had any concerns. Everything checked out!
I talked to her about how they used a different type of glue on my scar this time around and it didn’t come off. My doctor said they normally remove it there in the office with adhesive removal pads/wipes.
She said that I could have done this myself at home with either adhesive removal wipes or nail polish remover! I had no idea about this since they used small butterfly bandaids to cover my incision with my previous c-sections.
My doctor asked me how breastfeeding was going or if I had any issues and also asked how I was feeling emotionally. I admitted to her that having a fourth baby right before the holidays was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to juggle!
I probably didn’t rest as much as I should have and the stress of getting everything done in time for Christmas was pretty tough for me.
However, I was so thankful my baby was healthy, I was also healthy, and the holidays were over!
I could finally breathe a little and enjoy my newborn and family now!
My doctor also gave me to okay to start an exercise program now if I wanted to. I definitely wanted to work on the c-section pouch that I had going on!
For more information on how I lost the c-section pouch after 4 kids, click here or the photo below!
Final Thoughts On C-Section Recovery Timeline
So, there you have it!
A detailed week-by-week c-section recovery timeline from a mom who’s had 4 c-sections! I hope these c-section recovery tips and weekly information help you get through your postpartum days as well!
Every mom’s experience is different and some recover quicker than others! It’s always good to know what to expect and how long of a time frame you’ll feel uncomfortable!
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