If you have a caesarean birth planned, it’s important you are prepared for the recovery. As with any major abdominal surgery, you’ll take a while to recover. After a C-section you have to think about wound care as well as general postnatal recovery.
Preparation is the key to a great recovery. If you have things on hand for the post-op period, you’ll breeze through it. We’ve put together this list of C-section recovery items to aid you post op healing. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, you’ll be prepared for anything your postnatal recovery with through at you.
16 C-Section Recovery Essentials
These are the essentials you need to take care of your body after delivery. We’ll tackle the basic items essential for both postnatal and post-op care.
1. Maternity Pads
Even if you have a caesarean you will bleed after delivery. Lots of first mums think that having a caesarean means avoiding the dreaded postnatal bleeding. You bleed to shed the lining you’re your womb has used to grow your baby over the last 9 months. The bleeding should be like a heavy period for a week or two post-delivery. Using maternity pads helps you to observe the bleeding and check for signs of infection after your surgery.
2. Breast Pads
Your body will make breast milk if you plan to breastfeed or not. Around 3-5 days after delivery you will start to leak milk. This is the time your mature milk comes in. Breast pads are like sanitary towels for your nipples. They catch all those pesky leaks and keep your tops wet-patch free. If you plan to formula feed, you’ll only need a small supply until your milk dries up in a few days. If you plan to breastfeed, you can choose from disposable or reusable breast pads.
3. Compression Stockings
You will probably be given medical grade compression stockings to wear after your surgery. This is to prevent you developing a blood clot (DVT) after surgery due to being immobile. Six weeks is the suggested length of time to wear them until your body return to its pre-pregnancy state. Hospital issue stockings are usually unsightly white ones which get dirty easily. You may prefer to buy your own stockings for when you get home. They look like tights or funky sock to wear with regular outfits, and in between washes.
4. Big Pants
Bridget Jones size pants are essential after a caesarean. Wearing full pants will keep the elastic of the underwear from rubbing on your caesarean wound. This will help to prevent irritation or pulling of the stitches until they are removed. If big pants aren’t your usual style, try using disposable maternity underwear, which combines large underwear with a maternity pad.
5. Bed Pad
The postnatal period consists of fluid coming out of every possible area of your body. You’ll bleed, sweat and leak breast milk for the next six weeks. This won’t stop a bedtime, so you’ll want to protect your mattress and bedsheets. Using a bed pad keeps your sleep area clean and hygienic enough to prevent infection in your wound. You can buy disposable or reusable pads depending on your budget and need for convenience.
6. Soft Wash Cloth
Wound hygiene is essential to prevent an infection forming in the area. Use a dedicated wash cloth for your wound only and not all over the body. The wash cloth should be soft and smooth to prevent pulling the stitches. It’s common to have a tummy overhang after delivery, which harbour sweat and bacteria. Use the facecloth to freshen up the wound area during the day. Remember to thoroughly rinse and dry between uses.
A caesarean will leave you feeling tender and sore for at least a week after delivery. Keep on top of any issues with these items to battle common post-surgery issues.
7. Pain Relief
You will be giving regular pain relief from the hospital after your surgery. This is usually a cocktail of mild and strong painkillers such as codeine. You are likely to be given a supply of these medication home with you. We recommend stocking up on mild painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen as these are cheaper to buy instore than the cost of an NHS prescription.
8. Peppermint Oils
A common side effect of a C-section is severe trapped wind. This can be extremely uncomfortable and painful. When you are in hospital ask if they have peppermint water, which will give you instant relief for trapped wind. You usually don’t get this on prescription, and it’s expensive to buy online. A great alternative to use at home is the Colpermin IBS Relief tablets which contain peppermint oil. Regular use of peppermint oils are known to reduce milk supply, however you will only need a few doses to shift the trapped wind.
9. Stool Softeners
After your surgery, you may feel like your insides will fall out with the slightest movement. The thought of taking your first poo after delivery fills you with dread. It’s normal not to go for the first 4-5 days after delivery. We recommend eating a good diet rich in fibre, lots of water and a stool softeners to prevent constipation.
10. Thermal Pack
Any type of surgery can lead to swelling and bruising at the wound site. You may even feel a slight burning sensation of your wound. Using a cold pack can help to reduce the swelling and any bruising during the first day or two after surgery. Switching to heat therapy can help your wound to heal by reducing the pain and improving the blood flow to heal the area quickly.
Pin for Later
Once the initial few days are over, you’ll probably start looking forward to recovering from your C-section. Getting your body back to its non-pregnant state will take time. These items can give you a helping hand.
The best way to recover from your surgery is to eat a healthy diet. However, let’s be realistic; you’ll be exhausted and barely remember to eat some days. Using a vitamin supplement will help to top up your diet and ensure you get those essential vitamins for recovery and breastfeeding. Your midwife will inform you if you need to take any additional supplements such as iron before you go home.
12. Scar Cream
Once your stitches are removed, and your wound is closed, you can aid its recovery. The final appearance of your scar will depend on your body type and the surgeon’s skill. You can give it a helping hand by regularly moisturising with a scar cream or oil. The ingredients help to minimise the skin layers below and minimise hardened scar tissue, which can be uncomfortable and unsightly.
13. Breastfeeding Pillow
Most mums find lying down a great position for breastfeeding after a caesarean. However, if you don’t like this position, or you’re worried about dosing off, you should feed sitting upright. Holding your baby on your tummy during to feed can be painful on your wound. Use a firm breastfeeding pillow to support baby and take the pressure away from your tummy.
14. Co-sleeper Crib
Getting in and out of bed to tend to baby a few times a night can be painful. Even bending over a crib or a Moses basket can hurt your wound. A co-sleeping crib is an ideal for having baby right by your side with no need to bend or sit upright. Some great options are the Chicco Next to Me, Snuzpod or the Halo Bassinest. Check out our huge guide to co-sleeping cribs here.
15. Post-Pregnancy Girdle
Support for your tummy is a godsend after your C-section. Any slight cough, sneeze or laugh will make your think your inside are falling out. A post-pregnancy girdle is a great way to provide support for your weakened muscles. They also help your bleeding, swelling and can smooth out your tummy so you can get in your pre-pregnancy clothes.
16. Pelvic Floor Exerciser
Pelvic floor exercises are still necessary after a caesarean. Most mums think they are only for a vaginal delivery. However, the strain your pregnancy puts on your pelvic floor needs to be reversed. You may also experience bladder problems after your section. Using a kegel kit will help you strengthen your pelvic floor and prevent future health problems with a prolapse or incontinence.