dos and don'ts after a c section

You’re either reading this because you’re about to have a scheduled c-section or you just had one and you’re wondering about all the do’s and don’ts after your c-section.

C-sections are major abdominal surgeries and can take some time to heal just like any other surgery. The problem with the recovery of this type of surgery is that a mother doesn’t have a lot of time to rest!

Oh no, the doctors will tell you to rest but we all know that’s not exactly all that easy to do, ESPECIALLY if you have other little ones at home!

However, as a new mom, you need to take some time to care for yourself no matter how difficult the situation is.

Remember, if mom isn’t happy, no one will be!

You may have a ton of questions about when to exercise, what type of exercise is okay to do, when to drive, how to take care of your toddlers, what foods to eat, how to breastfeed comfortably, and so much more!

Here is everything you need to know about the dos and don’ts after a c-section!

 

DO’S

Watch what you eat

When you are able to finally eat and drink, your doctor will advise you to go at a slow pace and eat light meals. Your first meal your medical team may offer you might only be soup or jello and some tea or juice.

This is important because your bowels aren’t moving as great as they were prior to your c-section. You want to eat foods that encourage easy bowel movement without straining your stomach too much.

If you are breastfeeding your baby, you’ll want to be sure to eat foods that are high in protein and slowly get back to a regular diet. Remember to give yourself a few days to heal and get things moving!

For more information about diet after a c-section, click here.

Walk

This is soooo important! I can’t stress this one enough!

It may be the hardest thing to do right after your c-section, but trust me, it’s the best thing for your body! The more you walk, the more your body will relieve trapped gas bubbles that may be causing any discomfort. It will also help prevent blood clots, get your digestive tract moving so you can go home quicker!

Not to mention, overall you’ll get stronger with each walk and go farther and farther every time.

Honestly, it’s like you’re starting to learn how to walk all over again. It’s not that your legs don’t work, it’s more of teaching your abdomen muscles to get the strength to pick yourself up and start moving again. If this is your first cesarean, this will be harder to do than your second or third c-section.

Even once you get home, take short walks with your baby if it’s nice out. Put them in a baby carrier or use that new stroller and go get some fresh air, even if it’s for just a minute or two.

Your body will thank you later!

For more information about tips on recovering from a c-section with toddlers at home, click here!

 

Drink plenty of fluids!

Make sure you are drinking a lot of water! Fluids are so important after a c-section!

Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day will help flush out any unwanted toxins from your body. You just had major abdominal surgery and will need to flush out any fluids you were given during your c-section.

Swollen feet after c-section–  About two days after my first cesarean, my feet swelled up like Freddy Flinstones! I’m not even kidding here! I never knew that women could get swelling AFTER they had their baby! Postpartum swelling is a big deal apparently! I called my doctor immediately and she told me it was common and was from all the IV fluids they gave me. She told me I wasn’t drinking enough fluids and to drink a lot of water and it should go away. I drank so much water that night, that by the morning, my feet were almost back to their original size!

Be sure to watch your salt intake as well. Eating too much salt will make you retain water. You want foods high in potassium like bananas, apricots, and spinach!

If you get sick of drinking water and would rather have something with some flavor, drinking coconut water, and postpartum herbal teas are other wonderful drinks that can aid in digestion and flushing out toxins.

Not only will drinking a lot of fluids flush out toxins, but it will also keep you hydrated and smoothen bowels movements!

Stay on top of your pain meds!

The first day you are home, you might think the pain isn’t that bad and ignore when you’re due for another ibuprofen. Yes, I did this as well. Let me tell you, I learned the hard way!

Once my Motrin wore off, the pain hit me like a ton of bricks!

I realized I had to stay on top of my pain meds, especially the first few days after surgery or I wasn’t able to take care of my baby as well as I wanted to.

I personally did not take anything stronger than Motrin but every mama’s pain is different, so take what works best for you. I was also breastfeeding so I didn’t even like taking Motrin.

If you’re looking for an all-natural pain relief medication and don’t want to take ibuprofen, then try taking Arnicare. This is safe to use and works great!

Click the photos below for more information:

Keep your scar dry and clean

Be sure to use mild soap when you take a shower. Soap up your stomach/chest area and let the soap rinse down on your scar. Do not scrub your scar with soap or a washcloth, just let the soap drip down on your incision so it gently cleans the area.

If you have small incision strips (bandaids) on your scar, don’t remove them! They will naturally fall off themselves after a few weeks.

Yes, your scar may look a bit intimidating at first but trust me, every day it will look better than the day before! After two weeks, you won’t mind it as much.

Getting through those first two weeks is the hardest part with a cesarean. Hang in there mama!

Once you get out of the shower, pat your scar dry. Be sure to let it dry completely before putting any clothes on. This is a mistake many moms make. You don’t want any extra moisture trapped in there before you put your underwear or girdle on, so make sure the area is dry!

Once your scar is dry and you feel you need some added protection under your clothes, ask your doctor about using ScarAway fabric strips.

These strips help protect and heal your scar and are made with soft silicone fabric.

For more information on what to wear after a c-section and how you can wear your old jeans again, click here or the photo below!

when can you wear jeans after a c-section

 

 

Do stock up on stool softeners!

Stool softeners will be your best friend!

Trust me, you want to buy these before you have the baby to make sure you have them on hand after!

Your digestive tract won’t be as active as it was prior to your delivery and the last thing you need after having a baby is trouble in the bathroom!

Yes, another thing I learned the hard way that thankfully my BFF told me was normal and what I needed to do to fix it!

So, stock up on these, don’t even ask questions because you’ll thank me later!

Also, be sure to take a good probiotic daily, this will naturally help move things along and keep your gut healthy! 

Get yourself a Postpartum Girdle!

I can’t stress this one enough! This helped me tremendously!

If there are two things you need to stock up on after a c-section that is most important, I’d say stool softeners and a postpartum girdle!

I talk more about postpartum girdles and c-section recovery tips here or click the photo below.

How to recover from a c section fast

 

A postpartum girdle helped me feel comfortable, gave both my stomach and back the support I needed, protected my incision from certain clothing I was wearing and protected my incision from my toddlers sitting on my lap!

Honestly, it helped me so much and I even give credit to it for getting my stomach muscles back into shape! The compression of the postpartum wrap or girdle can help the uterus return to its normal size faster. (Source)

I even used my postpartum wrap during pregnancy to help with back problems and then postpartum. They make a 3 in 1 wrap that helps you at all stages of pregnancy/postpartum!

Here are the ones I tried and loved below:

Buy a Support Pillow

After my first c-section, I had the hardest time getting in and out of bed. Not only was getting in and out of bed difficult but sitting up to breastfeed wasn’t exactly a piece of cake either.

My husband had to go back to work and he worked many nights so he wasn’t there to help me sit up and lift the baby to my breast me to nurse her.

I told him I needed some type of support pillow and he went out and got me this pillow below. 

This helped me sleep better, sit up easier, and get out of bed quicker.

So, invest in one of these pillows! It makes getting in and out of bed easier since your stomach muscles aren’t working yet and you don’t have the luxury of a hospital bed to automatically help you sit up.

Here is another great pillow that you can use during pregnancy and postpartum!

Do Get Help With Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding after a c-section is much different than nursing your baby after a vaginal delivery.

Your baby may not be ready to nurse yet due to any medication that you were given or the anesthesia. Not to mention, your milk will take a bit longer to come in after a c-section.

It will be harder for you to sit up and breastfeed your baby and the entire process will be a learning experience.

Don’t give up and reach out for help when you need it! It’s not easy but there are lactation consultants that will help you and are wonderful! To find a lactation consultant in your area, click here.

For tips I used to help breastfeed after a c-section, click here or the photo below:

 

Continue Taking Your Prenatal Vitamins

It is so important to take your prenatal vitamins after you give birth. Your body just went through so much and is now making milk and struggling to keep up with everything!

Invest in some great vitamins and be sure to take them for as long as you are breastfeeding or as long as you need them!

Below are two that I loved and took during my pregnancy and throughout two years of breastfeeding each child! (Yes, after three kids, I’ve been on these for what seems like an eternity LOL)

I also took a high dose of vitamin D3 and fish oil per my doctor’s request. Be sure to consult your doctor if you have any questions. The combination of these really helped me feel stronger and get my body back to normal after my c-section.

Another reason to take your vitamins is that you don’t want to get sick! Coughing is painful after a c-section, so try and stay as healthy as possible at this important time!

Ask for help with housework after c-section

This was hard for me to do because I’m stubborn and don’t always like my friends or family having to help me with housework! However, you need help with housework after a c-section, there’s no doubt about that!

This is especially true if you have other children at home. You just can’t do it all and if you’re like me, you’ll end up doing it and paying for it later!

Be sure to ask your husband/significant other for help with housework because it will pile up and you can’t push yourself at this important time!

You need to rest and get strong for both you and your baby!

DON’TS

Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby

Most doctors advise not lifting anything heavier than 10-15 pounds for a couple of weeks. (Source) You won’t want to anyway, the last thing you want is your incision opening or any damage to your stomach muscles!

But….what about those little toddlers at home?

It’s hard mama, I know! I’ve been there twice! Try your best to teach them how to help you or do a few things for themselves.

For more tips on lifting restrictions and caring for your toddlers after a c-section, click here.

c section recovery with kids

 

Don’t take a bath!

Showers are your best friend for the first couple of weeks after your c-section.

Honestly, I loved nothing more but a hot shower and a hot cup of coffee in those first few weeks. They saved me and it was the only “me time” I really had!

Your doctor will tell you no baths or hot tubs for up to three weeks. Once they see your incision looks good and is healing properly, then they may give you the go-ahead.

In the meantime, avoid any baths, hot tubs, or even swimming pools for a few weeks. The last thing you need at this important time is any infections or complications with your incision area.

 

Don’t have sex or wear tampons

You will be bleeding a lot after your c-section. Tampons are not allowed so pads will be your BFF for a little while.

Yes, they’re bulky and they suck but they do the job! The hospital will give you some pads but you’ll want to get your own when you get home.

Here are a few that I liked after my c-sections.

A good tip to remember that my doctor told me. You will be bleeding over the next 3-4 weeks and possibly up to 6 weeks. Your blood flow will change from heavy to light bleeding. Take note when you are bleeding heavier than usual, this is a sign and a way your body is telling you that you are doing too much! Sit down, and relax until the bleeding goes away.

So, what about sex?

Oh, those husbands can’t wait, I know!

Your doctor will tell you no sex for 6 weeks or until your follow up appointment. Now, I know every woman is different and I have friends that waited 4 or 5 weeks and weren’t bleeding anymore and felt fine.

My advice is to talk to your doctor and see how you feel. It’s best to wait out the 6 weeks. You may even need longer than that depending on your situation and recovery process.

And if you aren’t ready yet, then that’s perfectly fine. You may also be so wiped out and have other little ones at home that it may be the last thing on your mind anyway! HA!

Don’t look at your incision right away and whatever you do, don’t scrub your incision!

This is for those of you, like myself that might be completely freaked out by it!

It scared the sh$# out of me after my first c-section! Everything just looked crazy weird down there. It took me a day or two to get used to the bandages and everything.

So, if you’re like me, don’t look at it right away and know after a day or two, it all looks so much better! Don’t touch it or even worry about it. Don’t scrub it in the shower, just let soapy water run down it.

Let it do its thing and heal!

Take things one day at a time and concentrate on that beautiful new baby of yours!

Don’t drive a car

This one was really difficult for me, especially with my third baby. I had to drive a few days after but I don’t recommend it. I didn’t have family or friends around to help me and my husband had to go back to work.

So, don’t do what I did and be sure to get some help if you can if you need to go anywhere for the first 2 weeks after your c-section. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Avoid using stairs as much as possible

Okay, this may be impossible if your bathroom is on the second floor. However, do whatever you can to bring anything you need downstairs on the first floor.

You will notice that you’ll get tired easily and the more stairs you climb, the more exhausted you’ll be and possibly bleed more as well. Try and limit your use of stairs as much as you can the first week.

Food to avoid after a cesarean

You’ll want to eat bland foods the first week after your c-section. Avoid heavy meals and foods that cause gas or any carbonated drinks.

Not only will this help you but if you’re breastfeeding, your baby will also thank you for your bland diet as well!

Here are some foods you should avoid directly after a c-section:

  • Gassy foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, beans, and dairy products
  • Spicy foods
  • Fermented foods
  • Fried foods
  • Carbonated drinks

You can slowly add these foods back into your diet but it’s best to steal clear from them as much as you can the first few days after your c-section.

Do you have a colic baby? Read these tips on how to naturally treat colic fast! 

Colic baby remedies

 

Exercise after c-section

This is one of the most asked questions mothers ask after their c-sections. When can you get back to the gym or when can you start your exercise routine again and get your body back in shape?!

Most doctors will tell you don’t do any major activity other than walking the first 6 weeks after your cesarean. Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead after 6-8 weeks, then you can start your exercise routine. (Source)

To be honest, walking was plenty for me for the first couple of weeks. Between keeping up with the housework and my toddler, slow walks to the playground and back were all I needed at first.

A great way to get your body moving again and back in shape is to try some gentle exercises that many occupational therapists recommend. These gentle exercises will help strengthen your core muscles and help you regain the strength you need for regular activity!

For more information on gentle exercises after a c-section, click here.

When you are ready to exercise and lose the c-section pooch, click here or the photo below to find out how I lost the c-section belly after 4 c-section deliveries!

how to lose csection pooch

Don’t wear clothes that will aggravate your incision

Right after you have your c-section, you’ll see it’s hard to find pants or clothes without a waistband that won’t aggravate your scar.

If you didn’t have your c-section yet, then here is a packing checklist you can print out that will help you pack the right items to wear during and after your c-section.

If you already had your c-section and want to find the best clothes to wear that will fit comfortably and still look cute, click here or the photo below!

Postpartum clothes c section clothes

 

I hope these do’s and don’ts after a c-section help other moms out there recover from a cesarean and help them care for their newborn better! If you have any other do’s and don’ts after a c-section you’ve experienced yourself and would like me to add, let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

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