A c section, whether it’s planned or not, is a scary thing. Doctors are cutting through layers of skin, muscle, tissue, and organs to get to the baby only to put everything back in place and sew it together. It’s major surgery and there are several recovery essentials that will make your recovery much smoother and easier to get through.
Some of the things I’ve included are essential because they make you so much more comfortable and help to ease some of the pain you might be feeling after surgery. Other items will help your body to heal and come back together much quicker so that you can get back to doing what you’re used to.
Using a combination of exercise, recovery essentials, nutrition, and natural remedies, you can give your body all the extra support it needs to heal. To skip ahead to a particular section, select one of the following:
- C Section Recovery Essentials
- Postpartum Workout Program & Exercises
- Natural Remedies to Speed up Your Recovery
- Foods You Should Include In Your Diet
- Foods You Should Avoid While You’re Recovering
What to Expect After a C Section
You probably haven’t heard that after a c section, your brain actually loses its connection with your
abdominal muscles and all the others that were affected during the surgery. It might feel as if your midsection is just missing.
To reestablish this connection, you need to include the right exercises to rebuild the abdominal muscles and bring them back together. It’s very likely you might be suffering from diastasis recti, which is a condition that occurs when the abdominal muscles split down the middle leaving a gap that is several finger widths wide.
Diastasis recti is very common among pregnant women whether they had a natural birth or a c section because being pregnant puts a lot of additional pressure on the abdominal muscles. If they aren’t strong enough to support your growing baby, they split apart.
Most cases of diastasis will heal on their own within a couple months of the baby being born. Other cases won’t and require additional work to bring them back together. Many claim it can only be completely repaired with surgery; however, from my own experience, I can tell you the proper exercise program can close the separation!
To learn more about it and test yourself for diastasis recti, follow the steps given here.
Before I had my first son, I’d heard from several mothers and friends that whether you’ve had a c section or a natural birth, having several key essentials after having a baby, is an absolute necessity to help with the healing process and, honestly, to keep your sanity.
I didn’t really agree though because I’ve always been a frugal person who has tried to avoid purchasing anything I didn’t feel was absolutely necessary. Of the things I listed in this recovery kit, I only used the belly band after my first son. I ended up being short tempered and moody because I was very uncomfortable, I felt like I looked horrendous, taking care of my baby was harder than it needed to be, and it took me longer to recover.
The second time around, I used many more of these items and the comfort, as well as how much easier things were with the items in my recovery kit, made it worth it! If you, or someone you know, is expecting a baby, whether they’re planning on a c section or a natural birth, the items below are perfect shower gifts that most people wouldn’t think of!
1. Belly Band
If you get nothing else, you should at least get a good quality belly band! Especially if you’ve had, or are planning on, a c section. Belly bands give your stomach the extra support and stability it needs after a baby as well as doing all of the following for you:
- Protects and supports the Incision
- Offers additional support to your intestines, uterus, bladder, and other organs until your pelvic muscles are strong enough to support them on their own.
- Helps move your internal organs back into their rightful places
- Reduces the size of the c section scar
- Helps to bring your stomach back in after a baby
- Very comfortable, it’s actually quite painful to walk around afterwards without one.
I didn’t think it’d matter what type of belly band I used after having a baby as long as I used one and I initially bought the cheapest one I could find. It definitely showed in the quality and how much it helped, or didn’t help, after my son was born!
I got less than a week of good use out of it before it started to bunch up, ride up/down, and barely cover half of my stomach. I ended up buying another and wearing two at the same time so it’d hold my stomach in properly!
After going through more than half a dozen different types of belly bands and three kids, I’ve found a handful that I really like that I would recommend for any mother. Two of them are given below. Both types work great, it just depends on your preference.
Belly Bandit Bamboo
- Cheapest Price:
$69.95 atFigure 8 Maternity (currently on sale for $36)
- Coupons Available? These are listed for the same price on Amazon and at Figure 8 Maternity but Figure 8 Maternity gives you 5% back towards your next purchase on everything you buy. They also have coupons available most of the time that allow you to get up to 30% or more off your order!
- Why I like these: These wraps are definitely the easiest kind to use and I like that they can be pulled as tightly as you want them. Be careful in selecting one of these if you aren’t going to go with this particular one because the lower quality ones have a tendency to ride up or down and are virtually useless after the first week or two! This one is designed to stay in place and offer great support for your belly postpartum
- Best Place to Buy: Figure 8 Maternity (coupons available)
- Why I like these: Of all the belly bands, girdles, and splints that I’ve tried, these are my favorite by far. You can’t pull them in as tightly as you can the belly bandit, but, if you’ve just had a c section, you want something that gently holds your stomach in and won’t aggravate your incision. These offer support to not only your stomach but your hips, back, and lower tummy. I used one of these after my second son and I loved that it supported my entire abdomen so well and was extremely comfortable! I ended up lending mine to my sister and she put in the dryer so I had to get another when my last son was born. It was well worth it though!
2. C Section Recovery Kit
Best Place to Buy: Figure 8 Maternity (coupons available)
What You’re Getting: This kit includes a c section recovery belt, a self help massage guide DVD, and a dry skin brush.
Description: Many postpartum recovery specialists recommend gently massaging a c section scar to avoid adhesions, blood clots, and other problems arising from the incision. It helps you to move and get up on your own earlier in your recovery. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes a day and the included dry brush helps prevent ingrown hairs in your incision as well as reducing swelling.
3. Mesh Panties for Postpartum Bleeding
Best Place to Buy: A set of 25 at Amazon
What You’re Getting: This package includes 25 pairs of mesh panties that are great for postpartum use. They’re very comfortable, washable and can be reused several times for your entire recovery period. Once you’re done with them, they’re economically disposable.
Description: Even if you had a c section you’re going to bleed, and bleed, and bleed as your uterus contracts back to it’s normal size. For some fortunate people it’ll only last a week , others (like lucky me) will bleed for over a month! During that time you really don’t want to be wearing regular, expensive underwear because, they could get ruined, and frankly, they’re just not usually comfortable after you’ve had a baby!
Most hospitals will give you a few extra pairs of mesh panties to take with you, but you may want to wear them longer and purchase a few more of your own. Amazon sells this great package with 25 pairs for a very reasonable price! I’d recommend using these until the postpartum bleeding has stopped completely to minimize your chances of developing infections and to keep your other underwear safe!
I would continue using the ones in this pack and just wash them after you use them. There’s no reason to purchase more than one pack. Once the postpartum bleeding is over, you can throw out the ones you’ve used. Figure 8 Maternity does sell postpartum underwear but I think they’re much too expensive for something that could potentially get ruined. One pair costs more than this entire package!
Honestly, once the postpartum bleeding has stopped, I’d prefer something I can throw away.
4. Nursing Bras, Tanks, & Pajamas
Description: If you’re planning on nursing your baby, having clothes that allow you to easily nurse, makes things so much nicer and convenient! Like I mentioned earlier, after my first son, I really felt like I didn’t need or want any of these.
However, most of the clothes I wore, made it impossible to see if my baby was latching on ok. It was such a pain to always lift up my shirt, then lift up my bra and my baby would get fussy because it was all pushing against his face. It was all a mess and nursing him while I was away from home was pretty nerve wracking or impossible depending on what I was wearing. I did get them after my other kids were born and the difference was like night and day!
Figure 8 Maternity has a huge selection of beautiful tanks, bras, and pajamas that you can feel good in and make it so much easier to nurse your baby. They’re very comfortable and that old saying that says when you look good you feel good really is true!
One of their nursing products that I really love are their compression nursing tanks. These help hold your stomach firmly in place while giving you all the support you need. They look beautiful and can be worn alone or under clothes. Just remember to step into them feet first because when they say compression tank they mean it!
Figure 8 Maternity also usually has coupons available on their website that allow you to get 10%-20% off your purchase. If one isn’t available you will always get 5% back to apply to your next purchase!
It’s been proven time and time again that the sooner you start walking around and exercising after a baby,the quicker your recovery will be. However, this will only be the case if you’re using the right types of exercise. You need to take it slowly and use exercises that are aimed at rebuilding your inner abdominal muscles.
My favorite postpartum workout program is specifically designed for women to use postpartum and addresses any abdominal separation that might have occurred. It can be used whether you had a c section or gave birth naturally. To read more about it, see my post here
I’ve always loved natural remedies, they usually don’t have negative side effects and I can take them without worrying if they’ll negatively affect my baby. Some can be used to help your incision heal quicker and minimize scarring. Others help with after pains, cramping, imbalanced hormones, and more.
1. Dr Christopher’s Comfrey Formula Complete Tissue and Bone Ointment
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon
Uses: Comfrey Leaf is an amazing herb that has many healing properties. It can be used to promote new skin growth, heal scars, bruising, pulled muscles/ligaments, reduce inflammation, balance hormones, and more! This ointment can be used as a topical treatment on a c section incision to help it heal faster and reduce the amount of scarring it will leave.
There is also a powdered form here that can be used to create your own salves and butters. It can be sprinkled in a warm bath to help heal and relax your muscles. Some use it for teas and others add it to their diet as a natural supplement.
Uses: Essential oils are becoming increasingly popular for their healing properties, whether they’re being used for aromatherapy, in ointments/salves, in baths, or more, they can help with dozens of ailments. After giving birth they can be used to treat after pains, anxiety, breast pain, constipation, cramping, heal c section incisions, headaches, hemorrhoids, infections, postpartum depression, and so much more! To read more about how you can use essential oils to help with your postpartum recovery, see my post here.
3. Placenta Pills
Uses: I never thought I’d promote taking placenta pills after having a baby because when I first started having kids I couldn’t stomach the thought of it! However, I kept hearing about the benefits and had a couple friends who tried it and said they noticed a phenomenal difference.
I bit the bullet after my third son was born and paid to have my placenta encapsulated. I found it wasn’t really any different than taking any other vitamins or supplements and I actually did notice quite a difference in how I felt!
These are used for each of the following:
- Increasing Milk Supply
- Avoiding Postpartum Depression
- Increase Energy
- Lessen Postpartum bleeding
- Replenish your iron
I didn’t notice it doing all of this for me but I’ll address each one and tell you what I did find.
- Increasing Milk Supply: I definitely had more milk when I took these pills. After my first son, I ran out of milk when he was three weeks old! I was so upset that I wasn’t able to nurse him the way I’d wanted to. My second son I was able to nurse for almost two and a half months before I ran out. My last son I nursed as long as I wanted and had plenty of milk for him. I didn’t have a whole lot left over for pumping because he did eat all I had
- Avoiding Postpartum Depression: I had placenta pills for several weeks after my baby was born. They lasted about six weeks before they ran out and when I was taking them I was so incredibly happy. It was such a drastic change from my other two kids where I found myself crying at the drop of a hat. However, once they ran out, it didn’t take me long to fall into postpartum depression. I do think that they helped a lot but once they ran out I should have found something that would help keep everything in balance. I thought that since I’d been feeling so great for weeks I’d be fine without them.
- Increase Energy: Yes I definitely noticed this. Though my baby slept less at night than my last two kids, I had more energy this time around. After my first two I was so tired and would give anything for sleep. It was refreshing to have so much energy this time.
- Lessen Postpartum Bleeding: I don’t think they helped much with this. I think I actually bled the longest after my last son when I was taking these. Instead of the standard six weeks I usually have, it didn’t stop completely for 8 weeks 🙁
- Replenish Your Iron: Yes, I think it definitely helped with this. After my second son I honestly could have been mistaken for a ghost. I couldn’t go anywhere without someone commenting on how pale I was or asking if I was ok. After my third, I was still pale, but nothing compared to how it had been the time before!
Don’t Forget to Include a Nutritious Diet!
There’s a lot you can do to help with your postpartum recovery. However, without a good, nutritious diet, your body won’t have what it needs to work with the tools I listed above to help rebuild and repair itself.
As much as possible, you should avoid processed foods and go for the real, healthier foods. Below I’ve listed great, nutritious foods you should include in your diet, as well as ones you should avoid!
- Plenty of Water
- Easily digestible foods: Avocados, leafy vegetables, bananas, oatmeal, yogurt, salmon, eggs, soups, cottage cheese
- Foods with Fiber to prevent constipation: Corn, leafy vegetables, broccoli, celery, berries, oranges, whole wheat pasta
- Protein – promotes the growth of new tissues to help in the healing process (beef, chicken, salmon, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and dairy foods). These are also excellent foods to increase your milk supply.
- Iron – required to bring your blood levels back to the normal after the blood loss experienced during labor. Necessary for a fully functioning immune system. (Red meat, dark leafy vegetables, seafood, squash and nuts)
- Vitamin C – helps to speed up your recovery process as well as fight off infection. (Spinach, citrus fruits, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, and peas)
- Essential fats: Flax Seeds, olive oils, eggs, almonds, walnuts, and dark leafy vegetables.
Eating the wrong foods can cause constipation and slow down the healing process. Worst of all, they’re just not that good for you! Especially if you’re nursing, you’ll want to eat foods that will be good for your baby. Whatever you eat, your baby will also get.
- Fried foods
- Carbonated foods
- Foods that produce gas
- Processed breads
What do you think about these c section recovery essentials? Do you have any questions or comments? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
Thank you for reading!