What essential products do you need for a c-section recovery?
If you have a cesarean birth planned, it’s essential you prepare for the recovery. As with any major abdominal surgery, you’ll take a while to recover.
After a C-section, you have to think about wound care as well as general postnatal recovery.
Preparation is the key to a quick recovery. If you have things on hand for the post-op period, you’ll breeze through it.
I’ve put together this list of C-section recovery items to aid you post-op healing. Pin it, so you have a handy list when packing your hospital bag.
Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, you can prepare for anything your postnatal recovery will throw at you.
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17 Post C-Section Recovery Essentials
These are the essentials you need to take care of your body after delivery. We’ll tackle the basic items essential for both postnatal and post-op care.
Even if you have a cesarean, you will bleed after delivery. Lots of first moms think that having a cesarean means avoiding the dreaded postnatal bleeding.
You bleed to shed the lining you’re your womb has used to grow your baby over the last 9 months. The bleeding should be like a heavy period for a week or two post-delivery.
You’ll need heavy duty maternity pads, to cope with the heavy flow. They will help you to observe the bleeding and check for signs of infection after your surgery.
Want to make dealing with the bleeding even easier? Buy mesh panties, like these, instead. Then you can forget dealing with stained underwear or leaking pads. Easy peasy.
2. Nursing Pads
Your body will make breast milk if you plan to breastfeed or not. Around 3-5 days after delivery you will start to leak milk. This is the time your mature milk comes in.
Nursing pads are like sanitary towels for your nipples. They catch all those pesky leaks and keep your tops wet-patch free.
If you plan to formula feed, you’ll only need a small supply until your milk dries up in a few days.
If you plan to breastfeed, you can choose from disposable or reusable breast pads.
3. Tummy Pads
You’ll notice the theme of leaking body fluids, which pretty much sums up postpartum.
After birth, your tummy will sort of deflate, and the loose skin can cause a tummy overhang. This apron can be a problem with a c-section for keeping the area dry as it heals.
I recommend using absorbant tummy pads for the first week after your caregiver removes your wound dressing. Place the pad on top of your wound to keep it dry from the dreaded postpartum sweats.
These are particulary useful if you are overweight or have a lot of loose skin or muscles from previous pregnancies.
You will probably be given medical grade compression stockings to wear after your c-section. This is to prevent you developing a blood clot (DVT) after surgery due to being immobile.
Six weeks is the suggested length of time to wear them until your body returns to its pre-pregnancy state.
Hospital issue stockings are usually ugly white ones that get dirty easily. I suggest buying your own set for at home, if you love socks with fun patterns you’ll love these ones. You can also get ones that look like pantyhose to wear with regular outfits, and in between washes.
Just so you know you’ll need the 20-30mmHg gradient. These are medical grade and most suitable for post-surgery use, anything less is not effective to prevent postpartum blood clots.
Bridget Jones size underwear is essential after a cesarean. Wearing full briefs will keep the elastic of the underwear from rubbing on your caesarean wound.
Preventing irritation or pulling of the stitches promotes healing until your caregiver removes them, or they dissolve.
If big underwear isn’t your usual style, try using disposable maternity underwear, which combines large underwear with a maternity pad.
6. Bed Pad
The postnatal period consists of fluid coming out of every possible area of your body. You’ll bleed, sweat and leak breast milk for the next six weeks.
The leaking won’t stop a bedtime, so you’ll want to protect your mattress and bedsheets.
Using a protective bed pad keeps your sleep area clean and hygienic enough to prevent infection in your wound.
You can buy disposable or reusable pads depending on your budget and need for convenience.
Wound hygiene is essential to prevent an infection forming in the area.
Use a dedicated washcloth for your wound only and not all over the body. A soft and smooth washcloth, like this one, will prevent pulling your stitches/staples, or irritating your wound.
It’s common to have a tummy overhang after delivery, which harbors sweat and bacteria. Use the facecloth to freshen up the wound area during the day.
Remember to rinse and dry the cloth between uses.
A cesarean will leave you feeling tender and sore for at least a week after delivery. Keep on top of any issues with these items to battle common post-surgery issues.
8. Pain Relief
You will be giving regular pain relief from the hospital after your surgery. This medicine is usually a cocktail of mild and strong painkillers such as Percocet and Advil.
You are likely to be given a supply of this medication home with you. Make sure you have a good supply, so you don’t run out when you need it most.
A common side effect of a C-section is severe trapped wind. This sensation can be extremely uncomfortable and painful.
Stock up on is peppermint oil capsules. Heathers Tummy Tamers are highly recommended by IBS sufferers who regularly struggle with trapped wind, bloating and discomfort.
A natural alternative is to drink peppermint tea. It helps you increase your fluid intake and ease trapped gas.
Regular use of peppermint extract is known to reduce breastmilk supply. However, you will only need a few doses to shift the trapped wind.
10. Stool Softeners
After your surgery, you may feel like your insides will fall out with the slightest movement. The thought of taking your first poo after delivery fills you with dread.
It’s normal not to go for the first 4-5 days after delivery. I recommend eating a good diet rich in fibre, lots of water and stool softeners to prevent constipation.
11. Thermal Pack
Any surgery can lead to swelling and bruises at the wound site. You may even feel a slight burning sensation of your wound.
Using a cold pack can help to reduce the swelling and any bruising during the first day or two after surgery.
Switching to heat therapy can help your wound to recover by reducing the pain and improving the blood flow to heal the area quickly.
Once the initial few days are over, you’ll probably start looking forward to recovering from your C-section. Getting your body back to its non-pregnant state will take time.
These items can give you a helping hand.
The best way to recover from your surgery is to eat a healthy diet. However, let’s be realistic; you’ll be exhausted and barely remember to eat some days.
Using a vitamin supplement will help to top up your diet and ensure you get those essential vitamins for recovery and breastfeeding.
Your caregiver will inform you if you need to take any additional supplements such as iron before you go home.
13. Scar Cream
Once your stitches are removed, and your wound is closed, you can aid the healing.
The final appearance of your scar will depend on your body type and the surgeon’s skill.
You can give it a helping hand by regularly moisturizing with a scar cream or oil.
The ingredients help to minimize the skin layers below and minimize hardened scar tissue, which can be uncomfortable and unsightly.
14. Nursing Pillow
Most moms find lying down a great position for breastfeeding after a cesarean. However, if you don’t like this position, or you’re planning to formula feed, you should feed sitting upright.
Holding your baby on your tummy during a feed can be painful on your wound.
Use a sturdy nursing pillow to support baby and take the pressure away from your tummy.
15. Co-sleeper Crib
Getting in and out of bed to tend to your baby a few times a night can be painful. Even bending over a crib can hurt your wound.
Check out my huge guide to co-sleeping cribs here.
Support for your tummy is a godsend after your C-section. A slight cough, sneeze or laugh will make you think your insides are falling out.
A postpartum girdle is a great way to provide support for your weakened muscles.
They also help your bleeding, swelling and can smooth out your tummy so you can get in your pre-pregnancy clothes.
Pelvic floor exercises are still necessary after a cesarean.
You may think they are only for a vaginal delivery. However, you need to reverse the strain your pregnancy put on your pelvic floor. You may also experience bladder problems after your section.
Using a kegel kit will help you strengthen your pelvic floor and prevent future health problems with a prolapse or incontinence.