If you’ve had a C-section, you’ll want to give yourself the best possible chance of a good recovery. While most of your attention might be on your new little one, you shouldn’t forget yourself – a C-section involves major surgery, and it will take time for you to adjust to life after giving birth. From getting the rest you need to helping your scar heal, here are our top tips for a successful C-section recovery.

1. Look after your scar

Taking care of your wound is an important part of C-section recovery. After your baby has been delivered, you’ll have a dressing over your scar which is typically removed between 24 and 48 hours later. Instead of your normal underwear, you might want to try something created specifically for C-section healing that is comfortable against your skin and your healing scar. You’ll need to keep your wound clean and dry to reduce the risk of infections.  Keep your incision clean by showering. You may clean your wound with regular soap and water, avoid scrubbing. Pat the incision dry after showering.

2. Take it easy

Rest is really important for recovery from any surgery, but you may find it difficult to get enough with a newborn at home. You’ll be feeding your baby regularly or trying to see friends and family who want to meet your little one. However, don’t be tempted to take on too much, and try to sleep when your baby does. Your body will have been through a lot with the C-section surgery and rest is one of the best ways to promote healing.

3. No heavy lifting

It is important to modify your physical activity until you have healed. For the first several weeks, avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby. Avoid strenuous exercises like jogging or weightlifting for 6 weeks or until your doctor says its ok. Try to walk each day, gradually increasing the amount you walk depending on how you feel. Walking is beneficial to your mood and can help prevent blood clots. Treating yourself with extra care to give your body the best chance of a good recovery is key at this time, so use whatever support you need.

4. Ask for help

After you’ve had your baby and are recovering from your C-section, you’ll likely need some extra help. While it isn’t always easy to do, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Those friends and family who come around to meet your baby won’t mind doing the dishes or cooking you a meal if you ask. Need a lift to a doctor’s appointment? While driving might be off the cards for a while, friends and family can step in to run errands that you can’t. Calling on people to help you out when necessary will also improve your chances of getting the rest you need.

5. Look out for these symptoms and call a doctor if in doubt

It’s a good idea to stay in contact with your doctor so that they can monitor your progress. If you experience any of these symptoms[i] while you’re at home recovering, you should contact your doctor immediately, as they could be signs of something more serious:

  • Severe pain in your abdomen
  • Difficulty passing urine or stool
  • Pain while peeing
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • A red, swollen or painful wound
  • A discharge of pus or foul-smelling fluid from your wound
  • A cough or shortness of breath
  • Swelling or pain in your lower leg

6. Eat to heal

Following a diet that nourishes your body is always a good idea. But did you know that certain vitamins and minerals can actually help you heal[ii]? Proteins that are found in lean meats, tofu, fish, nuts and seeds, plus the vitamins and minerals in fresh fruit and vegetables can help to encourage a healthy recovery. Plenty of whole grains, such as whole grain pasta, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole wheat cereals will help to give you with the fibre you need to go to the washroom regularly, as pain-relief medication can often make your bowels a little sluggish.

7. Find comfortable feeding positions

After your surgery, you might find breastfeeding uncomfortable, especially after your pain medication wears off. Try to find a comfortable position to feed your little one that also puts the least pressure on your wound. You could try a side lying position, a football hold with your baby supported by a breastfeeding pillow or even the cradle or crossover hold with a pillow on your lap and your newborn lying on top[iii].  If you are struggling with breastfeeding, please see your care provider or a lactation consultant.

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[i] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-section/about/pac-20393655

[ii] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11111-nutrition-guidelines-to-improve-wound-healing

[iii] https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-after-c-section/