Now that I’m almost 3 months into my postpartum journey, I wanted to address one of the most frequently asked questions I’ve gotten since Leo’s birth. So many of us seem to have gotten that dreaded news, “your baby is breech, and you will likely need a C-section.” Since I shared my experience with you all, I’ve been getting a ton of messages from you in the same boat saying “WHAT DO I DO?!?”
I’m not here to scare you, as I actually had a really beautiful experience and I hate that all that gets shared is the horror stories. But, while we’ll save the whole story for another day (it is on my IG highlights if you want to listen), the most common question from you is asking for C-section recovery tips and products that helped.
*I will also share that with sharing my potential c-section news with just about anybody, the next suggestion was to see if I could spin the baby (the procedure is called a ECV and it’s performed in the hospital). Because of the way Leo was positioned, my doctor was highly against this before-birth procedure and felt it would not be the best option for me and the baby.
Let’s start at the hospital, here are my tips for the best recovery.
One. Really assess your pain. What is your pain level? 2 out of 10, or 10 out of 10? The initial drug and pain medication that they give prior to the surgery will likely stay in your system for a few days. My doctor really encouraged me to stay strong and to try not to rely on any additional heavy duty narcotic medication that they offer while still in the hospital. Unless there was some severe complication or the pain was just completely unmanageable, she recommended just sticking to the Tylenol and Motrin that the hospital provided (and keeps track of). The hope is that by declining the narcotics, you’ll avoid those side effects of the medication and you can get your body moving and grooving faster. Seriously, narcotics have so many side effects: they can make you sleepy, nauseous and constipated. If your pain level is a 10 out of a 10, the side effects are probably worth it. If it’s a 2 out of the 10, that’s when I would personally rather not have them. I was able to decline the narcotics and just take the Tylenol and Motrin. It’s easy at the hospital because the nurses will have you timed and literally bring you the medication in a nice little cup every 4-6 hours. When you get home, it’s easy to forget to stay on top of it. I put a timer on my Apple Watch and made sure to take it every 4-6 hours (depending on strength) so I could get ahead of any pain before it returned! I took it consistently for about 2 weeks and then as needed after that.
Two. Get up and move around. It honestly sounds so backwards when trying to heal but you HAVE to get up and move around. I had my c-section at 7am (little man was out at 7:50am) and they had me standing up beside my hospital bed by 7pm that night and encouraged me to walk myself to the bathroom. I did (it took FOREVER, I’ve never moved so slow in my life), but I swear I felt better after. The next day I took a short walk in the hallway and made sure to stand every few hours and move around. I also got in the shower (which was so insanely necessary). It seemed the more I moved around, the better I felt. It definitely got everything circulating again and helped tremendously with post-surgery swelling. When I got home from the hospital, I made sure to move around as well. It’s easy to get trapped in the bed or the couch with a newborn and all those feedings, but I knew how important it was.
Three. At the same time, know when to ask for help. You are recovering from major abdominal surgery and you now have a newborn and will be dealing with regular postpartum recovery. There were a few points where I just needed a break. I needed my husband to take him so I could give my body a break from holding him, I needed to get up and shower and use the bathroom, I needed to rest, I needed to eat and drink water. My mom and husband were so helpful during the first days home from the hospital, I’m so appreciative of their support and almost always asking if I needed something before I even had to. But sometimes, you do need to ask, I needed to ask. People won’t always read your mind and know when you need a break.
Four. Eat healthy and drink so much water. All I wanted in the hospital was a turkey club sandwich. After 9 months of avoiding deli meat, I let myself have a little treat. I also knew I needed to treat my body like a temple to heal. Part of me feeling good on the inside and outside is eating relatively healthy most of the time and staying hydrated all of the time. I tried to make smart dining choices at the hospital so that my body was getting nutrients it needed to begin the healing process. I also drank more water than I ever have, seriously, the nurses couldn’t believe how much water I drank. When we got home, I kept up with the water (having one of these tumblers helps so much), and also made sure to eat lots of veggies, fruit, and whole grains. I tried to avoid sugar and a lot of processed food. My mom helped us meal prep – she cut up a ton of veggies and put them in a tray so we could roast them and have them for several days to add as sides to everything. She chopped up fresh fruit so it was a no-brainer to snack on. We also prepped some salad ahead of time and just didn’t add any dressing so it would keep in the fridge and be easy to grab — (why do salads end up being the most time consuming meal?!) We grilled some chicken to have on hand so it was one less thing to do. The last thing you want to do is cook when you have a newborn. The meal prepping is essential and also helps you avoid ordering out (which mostly always makes me feel blahhh). If you know you’re having a c-section ahead of time, you can even make some of your favorite (healthy-ish) meals and freeze them ahead of time!
Now that those are out of the way, there are some products I highly recommend investing in to make your c-section recovery that much smoother!
Belly Binder. Cannot recommend enough. I actually ordered one from Amazon but was so happy with the one my hospital gave me, I ended up returning it! You NEED to wear this. It might seem tight and uncomfortable at first, but trust me, you will be so glad you have it when that first sneeze comes on. Wow. IYKYK. It also provides a ton of support so you feel very secure walking/moving around and picking up the baby. I wore mine in the hospital starting day 2 and every day when I was home for the hospital for the next 10 days (about 2 weeks total). I took it off to sleep!
Compression Leggings. Cannot recommend enough. Once you’ve graduated from the Belly Binder, you’re still going to want support. I swore by my compression socks during my pregnancy (I loved how they helped with swelling and leg pain), so I loved the idea of having leggings do the job! These leggings are super tight in the midsection and offer a ton of support where your c-section incision will be. They’re a tad hard to get on — but, you want them extra snug! Once they’re on, they’re easy to wear for everyday lounging, a light walk outside (a must-do for recovery), and everything in between. I wore these almost every single day for another 2 weeks and as needed the next few weeks! My recovery started in early April — if it was summer, I would have went with the bike shorts option!
High-Waist Underwear. I couldn’t wait to get out of the mesh boy shorts that the hospital provides but they are so comfortable and needed when you have an incision. About 5/6 days PP, I ended up wearing these and they were perfect. I grabbed this 5-pack and wore them all the time (morning and night). They washed really well and kept their shape (didn’t shrink). I would just suggest sizing up for extra comfort — I wore a M.
Button Down Nightgown. Some people said they were perfectly content staying in the provided hospital gown. I am not one of those people. I brought 2 of these button down night gowns to the hospital which were perfect (buttons for nursing/pumping) and the gown part was great for easy access for the nurses to check the incision — they do that A LOT. Once I was back home, regular pajamas worked fine (as long as they were high rise).
Ultra Thin Pads. Yes, you still do bleed with a c-section. Again, I couldn’t wait to get through what the hospital gave me (those big bulky pads were like diapers). I ordered these off Amazon and they were so much more comfortable and super absorbent.
Vitamin E Oil. I started to apply this to the incision as soon as it completely closed. I loved adding a drop or two of lavender essential oil to my fingers and would mix the two together (lavender is anti-inflammatory and helped with itchiness).
Heating Pad. My mom had picked up one of the microwavable ones for me (with the beads that you heat) and it gave such relief to the incision and my abdomen overall (your entire midsection will likely be sore from the surgery). If you have an outlet near a couch/bed, I would recommend an electric one that will stay hotter for much longer (obviously). Our couch is in the middle of the room with no outlet close enough for a short plug!
Wedge Nursing Pillow. This helped SO MUCH and was something I didn’t think about until I was using it. I had another Boppy Nursing Pillow (which I love now by the way), but the design of this one is perfect for c-sections since you don’t want anything directly on your lap. I used this at the beginning for nursing and bottle feeding — I was able to wrap this around half my body and lay him there so he wasn’t directly on my lap pressing against my incision. It’s also gorgeous and looks like a regular throw pillow so we were able to leave out on the sofa without it looking funny!
40 oz Water Tumbler. I talked about this above but staying well hydrated is essential to recovery so making sure you have cold water always accessible is key. I love these Tumblers — I buy them for everyone I know as gifts!
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Leave any other questions you may have in the comments below and I can add to this post. You got this mama!