Inside: Whether you have an emergency or a scheduled c-section, these c-section recovery essentials will speed the healing process and make your new mom life easier overall! Be sure to put together this c-section recovery kit in advance if you already have your c-section scheduled.
There’s so much anticipation leading up to the birth of your sweet baby – excitement, nerves, anxiety, and likely, a mixture of all three.
Sometimes we have our minds so focused on those sweet little newborns that we don’t consider that once the babies are out of our bodies, it’s not just their bodies we’ll have to take care of but our own as well.
Most women prefer to give birth naturally, but it’s just not always possible.
Sometimes a cesarean section (C-section) is needed at the last minute; sometimes it’s known ahead of time that a C-section is what’s safest for the mom and baby.
In my case, I was 41 years old and pregnant with twins, which made me a high-risk pregnancy. Baby A was head down, Baby B was transverse. I was told that Baby B could flip once Baby A was delivered, but neither my doctor nor I felt comfortable with the risk of complications.
So, I was scheduled for a C-section at 37 weeks, 1 day. And thankfully, it was an uneventful surgery, and all went exactly according to plan.
As the twins are my only children, I don’t have another birth experience to compare it to, but overall, the recovery from a C-section was not terrible at all. Yes, it’s was a major surgery, but I wasn’t incapacitated.
Within a few days of being home, I was carrying laundry baskets up and down the stairs. Smartest idea? Probably not, but I was still able to do it just fine.
Editor’s Note: This is one mom’s experience. Please take into account your personal physician’s c-section recovery guidelines.
While getting rest and having help are probably the two most valuable components of a C-section recovery, there are definitely a few c-section recovery essentials to move the healing process along and make the pain as minimal as possible.
Here’s list of essentials – a “c-section recovery kit”, if you will – for a smooth c-section recovery.
Related: Have Anxiety About a Scheduled C-Section? Get 7 Tips to Beat It
21 C-Section Recovery Essentials
1. Pain Medicine (Advil/Tylenol)
The most helpful advice I received before my C-section was to stay ahead of the pain.
In other words, don’t wait until you’re hurting to take the pain meds. Take them whenever the nurses offer them to you, because once you start to feel the pain, you REALLY feel the pain.
So, take the meds as they’re given to you in the hospital and stay on a steady dose of Advil or Tylenol once you’re home. Take it like clockwork, just like at the hospital.
As you get more mobile and the pain subsides, start weaning yourself off.
2. Hot & Cold Pack
Hot & cold packs are a great way to treat pain if you don’t like traditional OTC medicine. But really, even if you are taking Tylenol or Advil, it’s a wonderful thing to have handy.
It’s a helpful supplement when you’re weaning off pain meds and need to relieve some hurt.
As the name suggests, you can use it as hot or cold, whatever you need for the moment.
Initially, it’s good to use cold, to reduce the swelling. Then, it’s helpful to use it warm to bring some comfort and increase blood flow.
Editor’s Note: These are also helpful for any IV-related pain you might experience postpartum. The pain I experienced after IV-removal was the worst part of my postpartum recovery.
3. Stool Softener
You never realize just how many muscles are impacted by that small incision, but trust me, it’s a LOT! Even doing your business on the toilet is impacted.
You’re still kind of ‘bearing down,’ using many of the same muscles that you’d use if giving birth.
Constipation is definitely a possibility, so having a stool softener is a smart idea to keep things moving smoothly, without putting any extra strain on your muscles. Opioid painkillers can also cause constipation, so stool softeners can help.
There is no guarantee that you will have that first bowel movement at the hospital, so you definitely want to continue the regular use of stool softeners at home until it happens.
You’ll survive it: promise.
It’s not uncommon for some women to suffer from hemorrhoids after giving birth, even if you didn’t have a vaginal delivery.
Having some kind of treatment available if that’s the case will be a lifesaver.
If you’ve already have a vaginal delivery, then you know what I’m talking about.
5. Peri Bottle
Along those lines, having a perineal irrigation bottle is a good idea as well. The idea is to keep any unnecessary moving or bending to a minimum.
This can help with the extra bleeding as well.
Editor’s Note: If you ask the hospital, they may let you take the peri bottle in your hospital room home with you. They probably don’t reuse them.
6. Gas Medicine
And while we’re talking about all kinds of bodily functions, having extra gas after surgery is also pretty typical. I had terrible gas pains after my C-section, so Gas-X or something like it is truly a life-saver!
Even though you didn’t give birth vaginally, there will still be bleeding. You’ll want to have pads that absorb a range of flows, as your bleeding decreases.
Adult diapers can also work, if that’s easier for you.
8. Loose/High-Waisted Underwear
Granny panties are your friend here! You do NOT want any tight elastic pressing against your incision.
Oversized, high-waisted panties are key.
Some women even prefer disposable underwear due to the bleeding.
9. Loose Clothing
Along with loose underwear, loose clothes are a must. Maternity leggings and tunics are still great to wear post-pregnancy, especially if you’ve had a C-section.
If not maternity clothes, make sure your clothes are a little oversized and high-waisted, so there’s no extra pressure on your incision. Loose-fitting pajamas can also work.
10. Prenatal Vitamins
You may or may not have an appetite after your c-section, so vitamins are essential postpartum. Prenatal vitamins not only help you but your little one as well if you’re breastfeeding.
If you need a brand that make you actually WANT to take your vitamins, try THESE. YUM.
Probiotics help with gut health and maintaining regular bowel movements.
(And while we’re talking about health, staying hydrated is just as critical postpartum as it is while you’re pregnant!)
Make sure to consult your physician before taking probiotics.
11. Abdominal Binder
You may think you don’t really need this, but I LOVED my belly binder.
This really helped to keep everything – muscles and skin – pulled in securely. A binder aids the healing process and supports both your back and abdominal muscles; it also helps the overstretched muscles to return to their normal sizes.
12. Skin Salve
You’ll want to keep some healing ointment on your incision, just to make sure there’s no infection and that it heals as soon as possible.
It’s also your choice if you want to use scar cream as well.
13. Nursing Pads
Even if you aren’t breastfeeding, there’s a good chance your milk will come in.
You’ll want to have nursing pads for your bra on hand to deal with leakage whether you choose to breastfeed or not.
Related: 5 Convincing Reasons to Ditch Formula Feeding Guilt for GOOD
14. Breast Gel Pads and/or Ointment
If you are breastfeeding, nipples can get sore and chaffed very quickly! Having some cooling pads and ointment can reduce some of those painful symptoms.
You’ll have enough c-section pain to deal with, and gel pads especially are so helpful to keep in your bra between nursing.
15. Breastfeeding Pillow
This can definitely help get your baby in the right position for nursing, which will minimize any extra strain on your abdominal muscles.
It also is a soft barrier protecting your tummy, so the weight of the baby isn’t adding additional pain to your scar area.
16. A Co-sleeper
A co-sleeper is a great idea, even if co-sleeping isn’t your end game.
Having the baby close by when he or she wakes or needs to be fed can help you take care of yourself and the baby at the same time, by allowing you to stay in bed.
Co-sleepers also reduce the number of times you need to pick baby up from a significant height, giving you more time to heal.
If you decided against a co-sleeper, make sure to get a pack n’ play with a bassinet attachment to reduce bending/lifting situations.
17. Nursing Station
Having everything you need for nursing is so helpful when you’ve just had a C-section! Keeping all your nursing gear together – your breastfeeding pillow, burping cloths, snacks, water bottle, etc. – all nearby can keep moving and getting up to a minimum.
Consider having one in all the locations you know you’ll be nursing – in bed, in the nursery, in the living room.
Related: How to Organize Baby Stuff in Small Spaces
18. Diaper Caddy
What’s true for a nursing station is also true for a diaper caddy. You’ll want to have everything nearby, within arm’s reach, when it’s time to change the baby.
The less up and down for you, the better, so having a caddy to tote around diaper essentials can really be a big help.
19. Compression Socks
Blood clots are a possibility after any major surgery, including a C-section. Wearing compression socks are a c-section recovery kit must-have as they can help reduce that risk.
Just be sure to get the medical-grade kind – 20-30mmHg gradient; otherwise, they won’t do much to protect you.
20. Shoes with Good Support
While you’ll probably be at home for those first days, it won’t be long before you’re venturing out, even if it’s just for a walk around the neighborhood. Shoes with good support are vital – especially for both your back and your abdominal muscles.
Avoid flip flops or slippers if you’re on your feet for any amount of time!
21. Step Stool
You don’t realize how many activities those abdominal muscles impact! Getting in and out of bed can be both painful and challenging.
You’d be surprised just how helpful it is to have a little stool nearby. If you don’t already have one and decide to buy one, you can use it later on for all things toddler.
Don’t Rush the C-Section Recovery Process
There is so much overload – mental, emotional, and physical – when you give birth to a brand new baby. So many new lifestyle adjustments to make.
Throwing a major surgery into the mix of all that can feel daunting, but it doesn’t need to be.
With a little planning for your care after your c-section, you can have peace of mind that you’ll be healing as quickly and easily as humanly possible (possibly even faster than your vaginal-delivery peers!).
There’s no rushing the healing process.
But if you incorporate these c-section recovery essentials into that process, you’ll be taking the fastest route to a new, active life with your little one!
Read Next: Have Anxiety About Your Scheduled C-Section? 9 Tips to Beat It
Kate is a former high school English teacher and current SAHM to her 5-year-old twin boys. A lifetime New Yorker recently transplanted in Tennessee, she keeps busy by learning her new way of life in the South, doing home decor and DIY projects, blogging at A Hundred Affections, substitute teaching, and figuring out how to survive in a house outnumbered by boys. And she loves Jesus very much.