Home > Body > Health > The Best Ways to Recover From a C-Section

Image: Jorgen House

With any other major surgery you would be sent home to rest and given the correct care plan to repair your body.

However, it’s not quite like that with a C-section – mainly because you have a new tiny human to look after. But also because the guidance given is just not good enough.

So we’ve summarised the key things you need to aid your recovery.

Just because you’ve had a baby, it’s so important to “Make sure you take care of you”.

The first couple of weeks:

Keep a track of your pain relief:

It’s so easy to forget what you’ve taken and when and when the pain kicks in it can really set you back. Either chart it on your phone or the fridge and set reminders or get your partner to take charge of it for you. With so much going on in your brain it’s nice to offload something and let them take care of you. They’ll probably like that they can help too.

The best way to rest

We know this can feel impossible but you really do need to rest. Pull in all the help you can get. Pause any other unessential tasks like washing, cleaning etc… and use tools like pre-made meals. Try and reduce screen time and sleep when you can and let other people help you recover. You may feel like you want to do more but we promise it will only delay your healing and can also cause infection.
Stock up on face masks and beauty treatments that you can do sitting down and make the most of it.

Garnier Moisture Bomb Sheet Mask
Garnier Moisture Bomb Sheet Mask

How far to walk after a C-section

Start with small walks around the house, avoid walking up and down stairs and when you do try and hold your scar and stomach and move slowly. Then when you’re ready take a small walk outside and don’t be afraid to turn back on yourself if a destination feels too far. You’re healing and there’s no shame in admitting you need to return home to rest. It’s essential.

Arnica will help you to heal

Great for healing and not something your hospital will supply you with as it’s homeopathic. You can take the capsules and also use the gel or cream on the scar once the dressing comes off.

Weleda Arnica Tablets
Weleda Arnica Tablets

A high temp doesn’t always = an infection

But keep an eye out for it. A high temp can sometimes happen when your milk comes in but it’s always best to check any sudden spike and to ring your health visitor if you have one.
Also keep an eye your scar to see if you think it’s not healing well. You should have regular check ups for this anyway but it’s always good for you to familiarise yourself with what it looks like. And again this is also something your partner can do for you if you don’t feel ready to look, which is completely normal if you’ve had an emergency section. It will get a lot easier.

Up your fibre content to avoid constipation

Avoiding this is important, for healing and overall health. Post op you might find it takes a few days to settle back down to normal. Help yourself by keeping your fluids and fibre rich foods up to aid in bowl movement. If this persists abdominal massage can also help.

Lifting things and being lifted

Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby and when you need to get up from the sofa or bed get your partner to help raise you up. You will regain strength quite quickly but it’s important to really let them heal, especially in the first few days and weeks.

Get yourself some big high waisted pants

The pants they give you in the hospital tend to cut in too low and are just plain rubbish and the other all in one pants can make you feel sweaty. We’ve found the best thing is a high-waisted maternity knicker with a pad placed inside.

High waisted seamless pants
High waisted seamless pants

Sneezing, coughing, laughing and crying

You might be crying a lot and hopefully laughing, which can cause pain. And having a cold or cough is complete bitch as it bloody hurts. The best way to combat this is to gently hold your scar and tummy, almost cupping it, and this will help.

Treat yourself to some new high-waisted Trousers

Often women find the section above the scar is tender too. This is because of the internal incisions you’ve had and can also be down to internal trauma caused from having the surgery, so the higher your pants and trousers the better!
Don’t worry about jeans or heavier materials, loose and soft clothing is key. You won’t be in them forever but you need them right now.

MAMA Before & After Jersey Trousers
MAMA Before & After Jersey Trousers

Keep your blood sugar levels up with dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a winner for helping you get some energy and a great treat to have on standby.

Ferrero Rocher Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Bar
Ferrero Rocher Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Bar


You’ve started to heal, what next?

Complications that can happen

Your scar is just the bit you can see but under the skin there is a lot more healing taking place. During the healing process adhesions form, initially good (to close the wound), however they can cause potential issues as they bind to organs and tissues in the pelvis, which can cause incontinence, pelvic pain, and back pain.
Which is why it’s important to take care of yourself. Women also often find that they experience pulling or restrictions in the area, when getting back to moving more. So once you feel comfortable to do so, start reconnecting with your body by gently massaging the stomach (no need to go directly on the scar to start with), above and below the scar and once it has fully healed, on the scar too.

Feeling disconnected from your body

After a C-section lots of women express a lack of ‘connection’ to their body, like it has failed them in some way. Please remember that you have definitely not failed. You just grew a tiny human and you birthed that baby and went through a huge journey to get where you are. You will recover and you will feel better in time. It is so normal to feel like this and like everything it will improve as you strengthen your physical and mental health.
You can also feel like your tummy or parts are disjointed. This is often accompanied with poor core control, stress incontinence and other issues. Again this is a completely normal feeling to have. It will improve as long as you give yourself the proper care and attention to recover.

How to get the care you deserve

Speak to your GP and request to see a women’s health physio. Or take matters into your own hands and book an appointment with your local practioner. You will find lots of Google, ask some friends who they used or look for your nearest Mummy MOT. Mummy MOT is a brand we trust and have used personally and you can find them almost anywhere.

What does a women’s health physio help with?

They will check your scar and tummy. They’ll be able to tell you if you have any stomach muscle separation. Most will offer an internal examination too, which checks for internal damage, prolapsing and measures the strength of your pelvic floor. It sounds invasive but after birth you won’t mind and it’s actually very reassuring to know if everything is ok in there or not. After your chat and examination they’ll give you advice and exercises to help you recover. If you end up paying for it yourself we guarantee you won’t regret it.

Before you do anything just breathe

All of the core muscles (Diaphragm, Pelvic Floor, Abdominal wall, Lumber Back muscles) work together when we breathe. Sit with your hand on your tummy (or if no time, do it when you’re lying down just before sleep) take a deep breathe in and then exhale through pursed lips till you have no air left. You’ll feel the tummy move away from your hand, you might also feel the lower back tighten and the pelvic floor move upwards. Repeat this as often as you like, it will aid recovery, reconnection and relaxation. This is the first step back towards any type of ‘exercise’ as it’s setting the foundations for a strong and well functioning core.

Starting to exercise after a C-section

The best way to repair your body and regain strength is to focus on breathing, postural exercises and gentle walking that you can build up slowly with time.

Rehabilitating exercises you can try after your 6-week check up:

Pelvic Tilting: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. On an out breath, tilt your pelvis so your lower back presses into the floor, inhale and release. Repeat x 10

Bridging: Start position as above. As you exhale, lift your bum off the floor till you have a slope from your knee to your chin, inhale as you lower. Repeat x 10

Leg Slides, start position as above. As you exhale so the belly moves down, start to slide the leg forward, just as far as you can without your pelvis moving. Inhale as you bring the leg back in. Move slowly! Repeat x 5 each leg

Try and eat some healthy foods

We know it’s so hard and cake is all you want. But poor nutrition will slow post natal healing. Especially after a c-section when the the body needs to repair the damage done by the operation part of your birth. If healthy eating feels too hard, include a green smoothie into your day, they’re quick to make and will help you tick off some essential nutrients that you need.

You need:
Protein – helps tissue repair.
Vitamins A, C & E – repair the skin and underlying tissue. Boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and help wound repair.
Magnesium – attracts water into the intestines so helps reduce constipation.
Collagen – great for wound healing and scarring
Omega-3 – helps maintain cells and reduces inflammation.

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