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Your C-Section Recovery at Home

Following these recommendations at home will speed up your c-section recovery. Know your limitations and understand the need to function at a significantly slower level than before.

One of the first things you should do after coming home is to call the doctor and set up your 6-week follow up appointment. This is crucial because it is when your doctor gives final approval for things like exercising, going on a trip, returning to work, or making love.


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A Simple Start is Vital in a Full C-Section Recovery

As you are beginning to recover, it will important to keep in the back of your mind this little reminder: I've just had major abdominal surgery. I'm sure it won't be a difficult thing to remember (what with that incision across your tummy and all).

It may be tempting to jump right into full-active mothering from the moment your suitcase hits the living room floor, but that's probably the worst thing you could do in your recovery. Pushing too hard in the beginning only leads to a longer recovery period.

Here are some simple guidelines to use in your c-section recovery at home:

  • Move around s-l-o-w-l-y.
  • Drown yourself in pillows while sleeping and sitting.
  • Rock in a rocking chair to reduce painful gas.
  • Avoid cold and carbonated beverages.
  • When you stand up, gently stretch your arms above your head to un-cramp your stomach muscles.
  • Check your incision daily for redness and excessive tenderness, which may be a sign of infection.
  • Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing (pajamas are okay) to remind yourself and others you are recovering from surgery.
    c section recovery
    Elena and Lauren meet
  • Limit phone calls and visitors to an amount you feel you can comfortably handle without overtiring yourself.
  • Keep taking your pain medication as you need it. If you are breastfeeding, make sure to avoid aspirin or drugs with acetylsalicylic acid.
  • Drink water constantly by keeping a full bottle with you at all time. Not only will that help flush out any brewing infection, it will be tremendously helpful when it's time for you to have your first bowel movement after surgery.

If you are extroverted, more visitors may give you the extra boost you need for a faster c-section recovery. If you are introverted, hole up in your house for a while before seeing visitors.

Determine what is best for you, and then communicate that to your husband or a friend to share with others. Don't worry, your newborn will still look like a baby after a few weeks. They can see him then.

Although it's important in C-section recovery to rest, make sure you aren't resting too much. Regular walks (every hour) around the house will promote healing and help prevent constipation and blood clots.


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Balancing Siblings

If you have older children, line someone up to provide basic care like cooking meals, getting kids dressed, and keeping the house clean.

Younger children will generally find your incision fascinating. Show them your new "Ouchie" with instructions not to touch your tummy for a few weeks.

Give your other children plenty of hugs and kisses, but resist picking them up. Your maximum weight load happens to be your new infant.

Instead, invite them to cuddle with you on the couch with a book, coloring book, or favorite TV show (theirs not yours!). Hiring a helper will also provide some quality "Mommy and Me" time.


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Driving After C-Section

Mothers who have undergone a cesarean are encouraged not to drive for 3-6 weeks. You should be able to push on the brakes rapidly without feeling any hesitation due to abdominal pain.

Make sure you practice swift braking in the car before actually driving to make sure you can react in an emergency. You should also be 100% free of narcotic pain medication (like Codeine) before attempting to drive a vehicle.

You can ride in the car as a passenger for local trips after two weeks (recommended but perhaps not realistic). Wait for 6 weeks before taking longer trips - making sure to take frequent "walking stops" to avoid blood clots.


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Chores to Avoid After a C-Section

You should avoid almost any chore that requires you lifting anything heavier than your baby, keeps you on your feet, or requires climbing stairs frequently.

c section recovery 3
{Photo by jslander}
This eliminates laundry, most cleaning, and some cooking. If you do not have friends or family available to help out, I strongly encourage you to consider hiring some temporary help. Besides your baby, the other God-given blessing of a c-section recovery is the required resting time you can use to bond with her.

A family member or a maid can help with routine chores. Again, do not lift anything over 15 pounds for 6 to 8 weeks, even if the incision seems to be healed.

The stairs can be particularly harmful during a c-section recovery. Try to avoid climbing them until a week after delivery. Set up a "station of operation" in the living room near the couch. You should attempt to spend the whole day on the first floor, only going upstairs to sleep at night.

Ask friends or your church to provide meals for the first few weeks. When preparing for the birth of my second, I started cooking a month early and stored those meals in the freezer. Thanks to church friends and a freezer, we had meals covered largely for the first two months, which was an enormous relief.

Your husband's signature dish of boxed Mac and Cheese and frozen pizza will get old fairly quickly, so plan ahead! It is always a tremendous relief at 5:00 pm to know supper is already prepared. If people offer help, ask for food! (Subsequently, if a friend has a new baby, offer food!)


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When Can You Bathe?

For the first 24 to 48 hours you will most likely wash via sponge bath. After that you can begin taking a shower with assistance.

C Section Recovery 2
{Photo by Aizwa Ikcha}
The water should run gently over the incision, not hit it directly and soap should be directly applied.

It's amazing what a little shower can do to your emotional well being! It will refresh you and give you energy you didn't think you had.

When drying off, pat your tummy dry (don't rub). Most doctors agree that you should wait about 2 weeks before having a submerged bath.

Because hot tubs are not drained and cleaned after every use, do not use them until a c-section recovery period of 6 weeks. You don't want to risk an infection during these critical healing weeks.

Also, if you're still bleeding, you'll contaminate the tub for everyone else. Would you want to relax in the recovering liquids of another woman? I think not. Be courteous to others and considerate of yourself and wait until the incision is completely healed.


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Hiring Some Temporary Help

I don't live near family, so I completely understand the extra burden of not having an always-available grandparent around to help. If you don't have family or fellowship in a church that can help, hiring a temporary helper may be the solution you need.

When looking for some quality help for you and your infant, you'll want to make sure you get some information about their background and credentials (after all, they are coming into your home and helping you care for your baby). Be sure to ask for:

  • phone numbers (cell, home, best place to get a hold of)
  • references
  • background checks
  • the sitter's resume
  • special skills (CPR certification, etc)
  • availability and rates
  • a profile video of the sitter
  • reviews and recommendations by other parents

There are two places on the web that will do all of this for you (and even a little more). They are SitterCity and Care.com. Both are excellent resources for finding great babysitting resources in any area of the US. (There were over 30 some qualified in my little city alone!)


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Know the limits you should have around your home - and stick to them! If you push yourself too hard your c-section recovery will take twice as long. Get loved ones and friends to help you with the routine chores, and let everything that's not routine wait.

These few weeks will fly quickly by. There is plenty of time for the crazy-busy life later. For now, immerse yourself into getting to know the little miracle you suffered so valiantly for.



Return to Your Cesarean Baby Delivery from C-Section Recovery

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