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10 Tips for a Successful C-Section Recovery

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Your beautiful baby is here, but you've just had major surgery and need care yourself. Recovering from a cesarean section is tough stuff—possibly one of the most challenging things you'll ever do. Once you're home, here are things you can do to support healing in your body, mind, and spirit. (Always check with your health care provider first, though, before taking any advice! We're moms, not doctors!)

Give Yourself a Break

a mom breastfeeding her baby

If a C-section was not part of your birth plan, be gentle with yourself. People who say, "Well at least the baby is healthy!" are correct, but may be making you feel lousy for being upset. Tune them out by being kind to yourself. Cry as needed, talk to a friend who will just listen, and certainly don't add to the challenge by beating yourself up—you did your very best and it's legit to grieve the birth you didn't get to have.

Get Support

a mom holding her newborn baby

This is not the time to be doing dishes, making meals, or anything that resembles housework. You have two jobs right now: Caring for your baby and caring for yourself. This might mean asking a friend to organize a meal drop-off schedule; hiring a post-partum doula (some will even do "overnights," in which they care for the baby so you can sleep—brilliant, go to DONA.org to find one near you); or having a family member who doesn't drive you too crazy come to stay for a while.

Grab a Pillow

an empty white bed

The pain of a C-section is NO JOKE. Especially when you laugh at actual jokes. So try to keep a firm but soft pillow by your side in case of laughter, sneezes, and coughs. Hold it over your belly to cushion the blow. Same goes for getting up and sitting down—put that pillow in place and it will give you needed support.

Wear Slippery PJs

a woman lying on her back

One of the most challenging parts of post-C-section life is turning over in bed, or leaving bed. If you have, say, t-shirt material PJs on flannel sheets, you will be bummed. A smooth, silky nightie or pajama bottoms, though, on regular sheets = ahhhh, so much better.

Move Around—Slowly

a snail crawling along some grass

To avoid the edema that can come from all that enforced lying around, WALK. As soon as the catheter comes out, in fact, walk. So slow that snails jog past, but it doesn't matter—you're inviting circulation back, which is essential for removing waste, releasing fluid, and generally restoring balance to your whole system. If you're blessed with good weather, grab a sturdy person and get some fresh air. But up and down a hallway will do just fine.

Drink Plenty of Water

a bottle of water being poured into a glass

Those stool softeners they sent you home with? Keep taking those. But also make sure you drink plenty of water (experts say half your weight in ounces is a good place to start). It will keep things moving (constipation after abdominal surgery is no fun). Water will hustle toxins on out, and it will help your milk supply if you're breastfeeding. Water is your new BFF.

Eat Well

roast turkey and vegetables

Food is medicine—make sure you're taking the good stuff. You can resume your Mallowmar-popping later, but right now focus on food that's nourishing, clean, and whole. Think: sweet potatoes, steamed greens, whole grains, lean proteins. Your muscles and tissues will thank you by feeling better.

Write It Down

a person writing in a notebook

Especially if your labor didn't leave you feeling like, "Yeah, I gave birth! I rock!" take some time to write down your birth story. It will help get out any emotions swirling in your body. Angry? Sad? Disappointed? Write it all down—and then you may find your way back to joy a lot more quickly. And even if labor went well, your birth story will be an awesome keepsake for your babe some day.

Take Your Meds

a package of medical pills spilling out

The best way to deal with pain is to keep it from ever getting too bad. Many studies show that ibuprofren is the best painkiller because it addresses inflammation. Whatever your doc prescribes, just make sure to tend the pain now so it's not a problem later.

Enjoy that Baby!

a mom holding her newborn baby

Oh my! Look what you created! This all may feel really friggin' hard, but revel in that beautiful baby. She will never be this tiny and young again. Find moments to smell her head, pet her cheeks, whisper sweet lullabies. You may actually miss this time—crazy as that may seem—so soak it up. Those feelings of baby bliss will also help your healing in mind, body, and spirit.

 
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