Updated: Dec 21, 2022
After having a textbook birth with my first baby, I was a little surprised when my second came along and I had to have a C section. One of the biggest surprises for me was how long the recovery process was. After my first I was well on the way to recovery within hours. I was up walking, showering and caring for my baby pretty much straight away. While after the C section, I needed to take heavy meds, and needed help with daily tasks for weeks. I found it frustrating as I was used to being independent, and I didn’t like being reliant on other people to help me with things I thought I should do myself. I also found it difficult that I wasn’t able to get back into my postpartum workouts and exercise that I had planned prior to finding out I was having a C section.
So if you’re a C section mumma, here are some tips I have put together that I was told from my midwives, physio, and other mums. I hope you find it helpful!
1. Keep up with the meds:
You’ll be prescribed painkiller medications in the hospital and given instructions on how and when to take them. You might also be advised to take paracetamol or ibuprofen. Keep on top of these. You can set an alarm when it’s time to take them again, or write down what time you last had them so you know when it’s time to take them again. Take them around the clock, and take them when you wake during the night to feed your baby. Being in pain means you can’t take care of yourself or your baby, so keep taking them. If you’re like me, it’s probably the most medication you’ve ever had to take at once, so write everything down and keep going with it until your prescription is finished. You can also keep taking paracetamol and ibuprofen for as long as needed afterwards. This also really helps.
2. Have low expectations of yourself:
You won’t be able to do much in the early days and weeks after a C-section. You can’t drive, or lift anything, and you can’t bend your body or do any other movements that require your ab muscles. It’s challenging. Even walking can be a challenge. Every day for the first week or two, I would walk to the mailbox. This was enough for me, and if I tried to walk any further I would feel exhausted or nauseous. After the first two weeks, I would gradually start to walk further each time until I could start to walk my usual distances.
3. Get as much help as possible:
You won’t be able to do very much housework at home. Anything that involves lifting is off limits. Jobs that require certain motions, such as bending or twisting are also off limits. This means no hanging washing, no bending over to clean up messes, and no vacuuming or sweeping. I recommend organising as much help as possible during the first six weeks. In my area, the hospital offered a cleaning service to come over once a week for six weeks. This was wonderful, and I can’t recommend this service enough. In addition, make sure your partner has plenty of time off to help with everyday tasks, or that you have another person you can call upon to help.
4. Start with some post C-section exercises:
After the six week mark, you’ll probably get the go ahead to start doing some exercises. Take it really slow to start with, and look for specific post C-section exercises. I found some really great ones on Youtube. To begin with, choose really low-level exercises that focus on helping your abs recover. You can also keep walking every day.
5. Do some scar massage:
After six weeks, you can also start doing some scar massage. Scar massage helps prevent scar adhesions and can help reduce the visibility of your scar. Get yourself some oil (check out our “skincare for new mums” section), and massage your scar. You can have a women’s health physio or a midwife show you how to do it properly, or there are plenty of tutorials online.
6. Have giant underwear handy and loose, high waisted pants:
Anything that rubs on your scar is going to be very uncomfortable. Giant undies that look like they are made for 90-year-olds is what you need. Maternity pants or tights, or anything with a loose waist band that sits above your scar is also helpful. Loose fitting dresses are also very comfortable. Find whatever clothing you can that doesn’t rub on your scar.
7. Visit a Women's Health Physio:
Midwives and OBs are wonderful, but nothing compares to the expertise of a women's health physiotherapist. They can help you with movement, scar massage, exercise, and pelvic floor. If you're not sure how to get back to your regular movement or regular exercise, or if you're needing help with pain and recovery, a women's health physio is wonderful. My local women's health physio helped me in so many ways, and loved holding my clingy baby for me so he wouldn't cry in the pram while she examined me. I highly recommend seeing someone!
Some of my favourite products for C section mummas include: