Caring for your C-section scar is as important as caring for your newborn in the early weeks.
Take care of your own health, and you’ll be well enough to give your all to your little one.
So I’ve rounded up some fellow mamas who have undergone caesarean sections to give you their very best tips on how to recover after your operation.
You may also like to read these tips for recovering postpartum.
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What happens after a caesarean section?
When you undergo a C-section you’ll likely need to stay in hospital to recover for three to four days. Medical staff will monitor you to make sure your wound is healing, you’ve recovered from the anaesthetic and that your baby is doing well after the birth.
While hospitals aren’t the most fun place to hang around, staying in hospital after your caesarean will give you the chance to recover and have access to painkillers round the clock.
When you’re at hospital, the midwives will be encouraging you to eat and move around as much as you can.
You’ll also be likely to still have a catheter for at least 12 hours after the procedure and your wounds will be covered with a dressing for 24 hours.
Doctors will need to approve your discharge from the hospital, and they’ll only do so when they feel you’re well enough to move home. This doesn’t mean you recovery ends here! You’ll need to take it very easy once you’re back home!
Tips for recovering from a C-section
So how do you care for yourself once you’re at home from the hospital with your baby? Here are the best tips for caesarean recovery from a group of real mums who have undergone C-sections:
Keep the wound clean
This is absolutely crucial to helping your body heal, and prevent any nasty infections that may put you back in hospital or mean you have to start a course of antibiotics.
Keep the wound dry
A dry wound will heal much quicker and is less likely to become infected.
Rachel had a fab tip from her doctor: “My doctor recommended drying the area with a hairdryer after having a shower/bath to make sure it was fully dry.”
Christy from Welsh Mum has another great hack for keeping your scar dry: “If you have an overhanging belly at all like me, using a washable/re-usable sanitary pad tucked over the wound is an effective way of keeping it dry!”
Erica from The Incidental Parent suggests using a clean muslin to keep the wound dry: “I used a muslin to keep my wound dry. It can get a bit, well, clammy especially if you have a bit of an overhang. A clean, dry muslin kept my wound from getting sticky.”
Massage your scar
Once the initial discomfort and tenderness at the wound site has eased, massaging the area can help with the healing process. It means you’re less likely to get a build-up of scar tissue which can be painful.
Jenna from A Balanced Belly says: “My GP has recommended massaging my scar as it’s quite raised, apparently quite a few people swear by this to help breakdown tissue.”
Use essential oils
Lavender is known for its power to relieve pain, and the scent is also extremely relaxing.
Michelle says: “I found taking baths with lavender oil really helped me. Also just taking things slowly and trying not to rush recovery. That’s very difficult when you’ve just had a baby who needs you 24 hours a day but everything else can wait, in reality the recovery time is short and you’ll soon be back to full strength!”
Wear comfy clothes
When it comes to C-section recovery, the consensus is that its comfort above fashion all the way!
Wear lose, stretchy fabrics that breathe to help your wound heal.
Sarah from Boo Boo and Tigger too says: “Big knickers, the bigger the better. Ones that will go over the top of your wound area rather than sit on it.”
Georgina from Georgina Clarke Blog says maxi dresses are the way forward after a C-section: “Wear maxi dresses! Took me days to work that out and I wish I’d had some in my hospital bag. Waistbands and dressing robe ties are too much for your delicate tummy and maxi dresses also avoid anything being near your scar. Took away so much stress and pain for me!”
Erica from 92three30 recommends sticking in your maternity clothes for a while: “After birth you’ll be wearing your maternity clothes for a bit. Steer clear of the under the bump style ones though as they will probably rub against your scar. Same applies to knickers.”
Take your pain medication
You don’t have to be a hero! Remember to take your pain medication and avoid an unnecessary discomfort.
Joanna says this is really key to your C-section recovery, along with airing your C-section scar whenever you can.
Rebecca from Living With Peas adds: “Keep up with your pain medication schedule in the first few days, even if you feel like you don’t need it.”
Keep a pillow handy
Sneezing, coughing and sitting up can put pressure on your wound as you use the muscles in your abdomen area. This can add to your discomfort.
Rebecca from Living with Peas has the following top tip: “Have a pillow handy. It really helps to hold it over your wound to keep pressure on the area when you need to sneeze, cough or sit up etc. Sleep slightly sitting up for the first few nights.”
And there’s a similar tip from Amy from All About a Mummy: “When you go to the toilet take a rolled up towel and place it over your scar. Really helps with the ‘it’s going to split open!’ feeling as you go!”
Take heed of your physiotherapist’s advice
Following the birth, and hopefully before you leave hospital, a physiotherapist will give you advice on how to recover.
They will show you some exercises you can do to speed up the process and help your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles return to normal.
Lisa from The Family Ticket says it’s really important to listen to this advice: “After two C-sections I found the first time I bounced back. The second time was harder. Really listen to the physio and do the work they set for you it helps.
Accept and ask for help
You can’t do it all, especially if you have older children! Rest is really crucial in the early weeks after your operation, so make sure you have people to help you out.
Lisa from Family Ticket says: “Get as much help as you possibly can from friends and relatives you’ll need it especially with older children that are adjusting to the the new baby and can’t understand why mummy can’t pick them up and cuddle them right away.”
Emma from Emma Reed also says help is extremely important for your recovery: “My c-section caused me so much discomfort and all I could do was rest up as much as possible. I had to have a lot of people come and help me, lift my washing etc and even drive me to the supermarket. Even though you are told not to drive for 6 weeks you need to do what is best for you and if you are still in pain, it is ok to say you aren’t ready. I didn’t feel comfortable enough until 10 weeks post op.”
You may also need help with your own personal care, such as getting dressed. Jo from a Rose Tinted World says: “Remember that your movements are going to be limited. You will need some help even putting socks and shoes on. So factor this into your recovery plan. I had to rethink what I wore so that I wasn’t relying on someone every time!”
Don’t neglect your mental health
There will be a lot of focus on your physical health after a C-section but this cannot be at the expense of your mental health, which is also extremely important.
Christy from Welsh Mum says: “For me dealing with having a C-section mentally was more difficult than the physical side of things. Don’t neglect your mental health, especially if the birth was in any way traumatic or just went different to how you had planned. Writing in a diary helped me process my thoughts. I also found very short walks in a local park and just sitting on a bench and getting fresh air helped me both mentally and physically (and good for baby too).”
Don’t overdo it
Be aware of your own physical limits and make sure you avoid positions and activities that may worsen your pain.
Emma from Bubba Blue and Me says: “Get help in for the heavy stuff (my OH was straight back working so my mum came most days). Change nappies at your level when standing to avoid leaning over and getting back ache.”
Erica says it’s really important not to do too much: “Don’t push yourself. Don’t do anything to soon you’ll be back at square one and regret it if you do.”
If you have older children, Sarah from Mummy’s Whine Club has a fab tip for you: “I found after my second section lunch was always a picnic in the floor. My eldest thought it was great fun and I didn’t have to lift him into his highchair. Keep moving but listen to your body don’t push it too far too fast.”
I hope these tips have given you some great ideas for your postpartum recovery and reminded you of the importance of taking care of you!
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