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Simple And Straightforward C-Section Recovery Week By Week Instructions

Hello there, mama! Are you curious about what lies ahead after your C-section? Well, let’s embark on a journey through your C-section recovery, week by week.

I understand that the prospect of surgery can be quite daunting. At times during the recovery journey, it might seem like you’ll never quite be yourself again.

Those initial feelings of weakness, fatigue, nausea, pain and dizziness probably weren’t part of your birth plan, but fear not, they won’t last forever. The weakness in your core and soreness as you move will not linger forever either.

Let’s break down the recovery process together so you can have a clear understanding of what to anticipate. You can navigate your c-section recovery with confidence, transforming pain into power as you collaborate with your body to heal thoroughly and deeply in every way.

C-Section Recovery Week By Week: Week 1

The majority of the effects of surgery will be felt these first few days. After surgery, you will be in the hospital an extra day or two compared to if you had given birth vaginally. Why? Because you need a bit more tender lovin’ care.

As we go through this guide, keep in mind that you should feel a bit better every single day. If you don’t, please reach out to your doctor. That said, it’s normal for week one and week two to feel very hard. Most moms need pain medication around the clock. Not. tomention, apart from a short daily walk and daily shower, it’s appropriate to pretty spend this time in bed. But, by weeks three and four, you’ll be able to start increasing your activity and should have a rush of normalcy coming back into your life.

If I can give any advice, when it comes to the healing process, consider peace and patience. Your body does know how to heal. You don’t have to do anything ‘perfectly’. It’s okay to tune in and adjust every single day. Birth is a humbling process. It’s big and beautiful and messy. And it’s okay for it it be hard.

It will get better.

So, let’s start breaking down the recovery process. What might happen the first days?

First 24 Hours

After surgery, it’s likely that you will feel – well – like you had surgery. A c-section procedure is not easy. Especially if you went through labor and then had surgery. Did you know that even in the most uncomplicated surgical birth, a mother loses twice the amount of blood as compared to a vaginal birth?

Plus, you had a pretty intense cocktail of drugs to help you stay awake during surgery and not feel sharp pain. To compound matters, undergoing a C-section elevates the risk of hemorrhaging – and other medical complications.

Things that are often normal because of this the first 24 hours :

  • Feeling nauseous, dizzy, tired or over all weak
  • Needing constant pain medication – please stay on top of this, it’s easier to keep pain manageable than bring it back to manageable
  • Itchiness – it’s a common reaction to the opiods used during surgery
  • Not being able to pee – having a catheter for several hours to a day after birth

Milestones In The First 24 Hours

There are a lot of things to celebrate in the first 24 hours that show you are on the path to a a full recovery:

  • Being able to latch baby and breastfeed! Pro tip, if sitting up puts painful pressure on your incision, put several pillows under your arm to lift baby higher up and do a modified side lying position so you can mostly just relax while soaking in baby snuggles and feeding baby.
  • Your first pee! You might find your body doesn’t really want to pee, or that you feel like you can’t let go of your pelvic floor. It’s a common feeling to pull the pelvic floor really tightly up and in after surgery to compensate for the lack of stability in the core. Once you’re on the toilet, spend a few minutes breathing down deeply into your pelvic floor to help everything release. Sometimes wearing a compression belt can help you find stability in your core as you move and allow you to release your pelvic floor muscles. You can also use a peri bottle to remind your body to pee if it is difficult.
  • Your first poop. I know, I know, nobody wants to talk about this – but it’s really important and a huge milestone.It’s normal for your intestines to feel a bit different and operate a bit differently the first days or weeks after surgery. That’s why we recommend starting with very gentle and easily digestible foods after surgery.
  • Your first shower. At some point, your nurse will likely help you to the bathroom to take a short shower. From here on out, you should have a daily shower routine. Make sure to enlist your partners support in this as well. Use warm, not hot water as you don’t want to faint. And, if you need, have someone place a shower chair in the bathroom so you can sit if you get dizzy or feel too much pain.

Challenges In The First 24 Hours

There are also plenty of things to may be frustrating, apinful or feel overwhelming:

What if you have gas, or find yourself coughing or laughing?

During this first 24 hours, coughing, laughing, gas, anything that activates your core is likely to feel quite painful. If any of these things are happening, take a pillow and place it on top of your scar and apply a bit of counterpressure. It will help it not hurt quite so badly.

What if you find yourself crying quite a bit?

It’s extraordinarily normal to feel very emotional after having your baby. Birth is big, it affects us and changes us in deep ways.

Crying is a form of processing it all, it also helps us communicate and rebuild connection with our partners. Entering parenthood is an evolution and the emotional journey is very real. Embrace the tears and know big feelings are okay.

What if you find your baby crying quite a bit?

Some babies born via c-section are quite fussy. Many people believe that part of the reason for this is an imbalance in their gut microbiome. One of the many ways babies form their microbiome is through a vaginal delivery. So surgical babies miss out on this formative stage.

Infant probiotics are a common tool parents use to build up their babies gut health. We do this because a healthy gut helps create a stronger immune system.

With a healthy gut, babies cry less and smile more.

They have digestion that is easy and comfortable, because they have less gas. In fact, found that when infants were given 5 drops of infant probiotics before their morning feeding, that crying time reduced by 50% by day 7. Find out more about infant probiotics here.

C-Section Recovery Day 2

You are likely still in the hospital on day two of your recovery. Today, your goals are to begin working together with your partner to create baby care rhythms that allow you each to bond with your baby and to allow you to rest. You should not be picking up your baby by yourself just yet – so your partner will have to do extra to support you.

There is a really cool benefit of having partners engage this much in the initial parenting days revealed in the book The Boy Crisis by Warren Farrell, PhD. and John Gray PhD.

During pregnancy, women’s brain actually change to bond her to her baby and support her in her new nurturing role. Men don’t get this brain and chemistry change until they actively parent. Being an involved dad activates new neurons in his brain and causes a hormonal shift that stimulates nurturing, trust and affection.

I hear many moms express frustration, guilt or shame for having to turn over some of their early responsibilities. But, a little perspective shift might help you feel better about allowing others to support you. Know their contribution benefits them as much as you. Here’s a great opportunity to invite your partner into a deeper bond with you and your baby, in a way that changes their brain chemistry. Simply allow them to serve you.

Feeding Baby Rhythm

If you are breastfeeding, your partner can’t take the task of of feeding baby on for you. Here’s what a typical feed might look like:

  1. Baby stirs
  2. Dad changes diaper, leaves them undressed and brings baby to you.
  3. You feed, snuggle and adore your baby.
  4. When you’re ready, you hand baby to dad while dad hands you an ice pack.
  5. Dad burps baby, dresses baby, and snuggles baby back to sleep.
  6. Baby sleeps in their bassinet or your or dad’s chest.
  7. Repeat every 1.5-3 hours the first few days.

I know the first days are quite demanding. But, you will get through it. I see your courage and have faith in you.

Comfortable Positions For The First Week Of C-Section Recovery

You may find that holding baby on your chest while you sit up adds pain to your incision site. If so, simply lay back flat and have baby snuggle on your chest.

Alternatively, rest on you have someone help your rest on your side. Place a rolled up towel under your belly, a pillow between your knees, and another pillow behind your back so you don’t have to hold yourself up. Then tuck baby under your arm, so their nose is about the level of your breast. See the first picture in this article for an example!

Pain Management For Day 2-14

Make sure to stay on top of your pain management. The first couple weeks, ice can give a tremendous boost to your the pain medications. Place an ice pack over your incision site. You should ice the area of your surgery several times a day, 15 to 20 minutes at a time. I recommend doing this after every time baby feeds. You should also ice after undergoing uncomfortable movement, like feeding, walks or coughing. Make sure to keep up your ice routine for about 2 weeks.

Prepare For Night Time Support For Weeks 1 And 2

The first few weeks after having a surgical birth, you won’t have some of the normal tools to comfort baby. You may find it really hard to reposition baby in your arms, that you can’t soothe them upright, and struggle making a shushing noise like the one typically used to comfort babies, because it requires so much abdominal contraction.

Speak up and have your partner on board to help throughout the night. If the 24/7 demands of a baby to be fed, sushed changed and cuddled is a lot for both of you, consider hiring a postpartum doula to come spend time caring for your new family.

They can help with the baby’s routine at the hospital and at home, prep food, clean the house, keep up your laundry and all the other little tasks that you need. a break from for the first several weeks after giving birth.

C-Section Recovery Day 3 -7

Congratulations on getting to day 3 of your recovery! You hit new milestones. The first of which is likely going home!! Many moms feel overwhelmed about going home at a time they feel so helpless.

But, day 3 is also a time where you can become a bit more proactive about your recovery as well.

For many moms, the nausea and dizziness is gone by now. Though, if you still need more than just Tylenol. and Ibuprofen you are not alone. Many moms stay on Oxycontin through the first week. So if you are weaning from the big O before day 7, give yourself a big high five! If your pain levels are high, remember, you’re only 3 days in. And not far from feeling much much less pain.

Adding Breathing And Gentle Movement To Your Recovery Process

Now that you are not at the hospital where a nurse will tell you what to do, you are on your own. Here are a few things to keep on your daily checklist for the first 2 weeks:

  1. Ice your incision after every feed.
  2. A daily shower.
  3. A 10 minute walk using a belly binder.
  4. 5-10 minutes of breathing exercises while in bed.
  5. Consider journaling each day and sitting near a window, on a porch or somewhere where you get sunlight and a breeze for a few minutes.

If you aren’t sure where to start with movement, this is a great time to start with the Every Mother surgical birth recovery program.

Every Mother is a postpartum recovery system that has a specific track for surgical birth mamas. Leah Keller, the creator of this program, will guide you through simple breathing patterns, and gentle movements you can do pretty much immediately after your surgical birth.

Then, she will help you progress to more functional and dynamic movement as is appropriate in the upcoming days and weeks. I highly recommend her expert guidance through surgical recovery as an affordable and manageable daily guide from here on out.

Continue Asking For Help Picking Up Baby

Throughout this week, you should continue to ask for help picking up your baby. I know it is frustrating, I know it is hard, but you will soon have all the freedom and mobility you are craving right now. Please, just give yourself time to get there.

C-Section Recovery Week By Week: Week 2

Here are a few highlights of week 2 of your surgical birth recovery.

Your pain levels will likely still be quite high at the beginning of this week – but, make it to the end and they should be down significantly. Have courage, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Many moms can come off of Tylenol and IBuprofen by the end of week 2. But seriously, there is no need to rush.

Week 2 Tasks: Keep Up With First Week Routines

  1. Ice after every feed.
  2. A daily shower.
  3. 10 minute walk with belly binder.
  4. 5 minute diaphragmatic breathing (follow the Every Mother Program)
  5. Consider journaling and sunlight.

First Baby Appointment

You will likely have a one week checkup for baby. The tricky thing is, you shouldn’t be picking baby up to put them in a carseat. You definitely shouldn’t be carrying the carseat with your baby in it.

Make sure to recruit a friend or family member to manage this trip for you. They should do everything for baby and you.

You shouldn’t pack their bag, carry their bag or do anything other than walk to the car, sit in the car, walk to the office, sit in the office etc. . You simply being up long enough for an appointment is going to push the boundaries of what is appropriate at this stage of your recovery.

Week 2 Surgical Recovery: Visitors

For the first 2 weeks, even sitting for extended periods of time will be difficult. Consider your visitors carefully. Only invite people for whom you can stay laying in bed or laying on the couch while they visit. Week 3 it will be much easier to sit and visit.

Something To Celebrate In Week 2

Many moms are surprised to find out how much their core is involved with the smallest tasks such as opening a snack package, taking a lid off of a water bottle, grabbing a cup of coffee. As you go through this week, you will get the ability to do these little things back. This is a huge moment to celebrate!

Sometime mid week 2 you will get the ability to bend back, so you can start putting your socks on by yourself, and might even be able to start picking up baby and doing the whole diaper change, feed burp routine on your own once or twice a day.

Please continue to outsource meals and housework!

Week 2 is also a great time to schedule your first self-care moment. Consider going to your first postpartum massage sometime in week 2. You’ve been through alot and it will do wonders to relieve the lower back and neck tension most moms feel the initial weeks after birth. If possible, make this a weekly or bi-monthly event. Your body will thank you!

C-Section Recovery Week By Week: Week 3

Week 3 Tasks: There’s Less To Do’s This Week

  1. A daily shower.
  2. 10 minute walk with or without belly binder. (goodbye trusty friend!)
  3. 15 minute diaphragmatic breathing, core activation and slow pelvic floor engagement (follow the Every Mother Program)
  4. Consider journaling and sunlight.

Week three is a VERY exciting week when it comes to c-section recovery. You will likely get so much more normalcy back in your life. Let’s explore what to expect this week!

You Can Bathe Again!

Guess what? At the end of week 2 or the beginning of week 3, you should have a doctor’s appointment for you (not baby). Most moms will be cleared to take baths again!! If your body is still sore, consider. a warm, soothing herbal bath!

No Need To Ice Your Incision Site Any More!

By week 3 you are past the inflammatory stage of wound healing, which means that ice won’t impact your healing any more. Your feeding routine just got so much easier as you don’t need to ice after feeds anymore!

You Can Sit Upright Again!

Another great milestone of this week is that you can likely start to sit upright without significant pain again. So, if you are the type of person that wants to be up and talkative while you have visitors, you can slowly start inviting in laws, family and friends for short visits. (There is a strong emphasis on short here!)

You May Be Able To Lift Things Again

Tired of not being able to lift anything, including baby? This week your strength is coming back! Not only can you lift baby, but by the end of the week, there is a good chance you can lift them even in their carseat!

Welcome Back Driving

If you’ve been going stir crazy at home, there is definitely good news for you. In week three, you can likely start driving again. Take it slow, make sure you have proper mobility and that you are okay sitting upright for the whole of your trip. Welcome back to a sense of freedom.

Bleeding Should Slow Down

This week bleeding will probably change from the bright red of fresh blood to a dark brown color. This means your bleeding is nearing the end!

C-Section Recovery Week By Week: Week 4

 In a big way, week 4 of recovery from your c-section feels like a total transformation. But – it is also a time when many people have less support from family or are preparing to send partners back to work.

Week 4 Tasks: There’s Less To Do’s This Week

  1. A daily shower.
  2. 10 minute walk – you can start pushing the stroller if you like!
  3. 15 minute diaphragmatic breathing, core activation and slow pelvic floor engagement (follow the Every Mother Program)
  4. Consider journaling and sunlight.

Consider Meal Planning Services

As your partner goes back to work and your support systems give more of the household responsibilities back to you, you may find yourself sleep deprived, stressed and zero capacity to spend thinking about, planning and preparing food. Plus, being up for long stretches in the kitchen may still be difficult. Don’t stress about food. But, you may find a good delivery system like Home Chef can take enough of the prepping, planning and shopping off your plate that you can have reasonably healthy and balanced meals to help you stay balanced as well.

It’s Time To Vision Board Your LIfe

So far, you’ve likely been in survival mode or recovery cocoon. Most of your time and energy has likely been spent living moment to moment adjusting and meeting immediate needs. This week, things should shift. Babies slip into a more predictable 2-3 hour eat, play, sleep cycle and 3-4 weeks and your healing has made tons of progress. So while you may not be ready to go out and about the way you used to, it’s a great time to start planning what you want your life to look like as you come out of maternity leave or pick up the total responsibilities of full time motherhood in a few weeks. What do you want your life to look like? Start dreaming about it and planning it this week.

Bleeding Should Stop This Week!

In week three, bleeding was likely brown. This week, it will likely stop all together. That said, if you. or your partner are thinking about intercourse, it’s probably best to wait another couple weeks. If a delicious orgasm is on your vision board -start thinking about how to avoid painful sex after birth. Because surgery affects the core and therefore pelvic floor so much, unfortunately, it can still be a bit tricky the first time. But, as you continue to heal, especially if you’re following the Every Mother Program, you are likely on your way to balance and away from pelvic discomfort.

It’s A Great Time To Check In With A Physical Therapist

Week four of your c-section recovery is a great time to meet with a physical therapist.

A physical therapist can assist a mom who has recently undergone a c-section by addressing her postpartum needs. They can help manage post-surgery pain through various techniques and offer guidance on scar care. Physical therapists also play a vital role in restoring mobility, range of motion, and core strength, as well as rehabilitating the pelvic floor muscles. Additionally, they educate the mom on proper posture and body mechanics to prevent strain during daily activities and can provide emotional support, tailored exercises, and a gradual return to physical activity plan, ensuring a smoother and more comfortable post-c-section recovery.

Extra great news: If you’re out and about you can probably manage short trips solo starting this week!

C-Section Recovery Week By Week: Week 5

Week 5 of c-section recovery can be a bit tricky. On one hand, most moms can manage a lot more. On the other hand, you are not all the way better. This often leaves moms with a sense of overwhelm and frustration. Not to mention that if you haven’t been proactive with core rehabilitation, and even if you have, you may find that the imbalances caused by laying down, carrying baby so much and otherwise having so many physical demands on your body are leading to shoulder pain, neck pain, wrist pain and aches that are cascading through your body. Make sure to talk to a Physical Therapist, keep up with a regular massage, use Every Mother, and take care of your body if you can fit it in. It will help you show up kinder, more compassionately and more capably for your family.

Week 5 Tasks: There’s Less To Do’s This Week

  1. A daily shower.
  2. 10 minute wal.
  3. 15 minute diaphragmatic breathing, core activation and slow pelvic floor engagement (follow the Every Mother Program)
  4. Consider journaling and sunlight.

Consider Therapy

Parenthood causes a rapid shift in responsibilities and needs. It’s likely that by week 5 you are having to navigate new conversations about managing household tasks and getting everything done. Plus, you are likely still processing the birth experience. It’s a great time to check in with a therapist if you have the resources. If you’re still in survival mode, ask forhelp! If you can’t get to an appointment, you can use a program like TalkSpace to zoom with a therapist online.

C-Section Recovery Week By Week: Week 6

Congratulations! Week 6 is the last week you are considered in recovery from your c-section. If you’ve been taking it easy up to this point, good for you. In fact, we encourage you to continue moving slowly into your daily routines you envisioned in week 4 of recovery. Some soreness may still happen, but it should no longer be constant. What can you do this week?

Some Moms Will Explore If They Are Ready For A First Orgasm

When it comes to having sex after surgery, it is up to you to decide when the timing is right. Our suggestions are to go slow, to be aware of pain and back off it it is too much, use lube, and communicate a lot. If you have pain with sex, talk to a physical therapist. If it feels a bit awkward, know it should get easier and more pleasurable from here!

You Get The Okay To Do A Real Workout!

At 6 weeks, most moms will get the okay to go to their first workout! For me, as a person that NEEDS movement for mental health, this is an exciting moment. But not one with expectation. If you are not ready, you’re not ready.

Respect what your body is telling you. Again, go slow. But, if you want to get back into the yoga studio, lift your first weights, or attend a barre class, if you feel okay doing it probably is okay!

If you were a passionate, high-level exerciser before pregnancy, it’s time to be gentle with yourself and take a moment to reevaluate your post-c-section fitness journey. You might need to dial down the weight and intensity compared to your pre-pregnancy workouts.

Keep in mind that you’re only six weeks post c-section, and your abdominal wall is still in the healing process. At this point, your abdominal fascia has regained about 50-60% of its original strength, with even more progress expected over the next 20 weeks, which amounts to roughly five months.

Taking it easy and progressing gradually during this period will help safeguard against issues like pain, incontinence, or prolapse down the road. Your body has done incredible things, and it’s essential to nurture it with patience and self-care.

My Favorite Workout System After A Baby

If you are looking for a simple and effective way to work out at home, I highly recommend checking out Bodi. I’ve done over 400 workouts through this app and still haven’t gotten bored. I love that they have tons of different programs that meet you at different levels – all for much less than a gym membership.

My favorite program to start with within Bodi is Andrea Rodger’s XB Pilates. This form of Pilates is designed to strengthen the core, improve flexibility, and promote overall body conditioning, which is particularly crucial after pregnancy and childbirth.

New moms can benefit from XB Pilates as it focuses on reactivating and strengthening the deep core muscles, aiding in the recovery of abdominal strength and pelvic floor function. It also helps with posture, addressing the common issues that can arise after pregnancy, such as back pain, shoulder pain and poor alignment.

It is a gentle but challenging place to begin exercising after a baby.

C-Section Recovery Week By Week TL/DR

In conclusion, the journey of c-section recovery is a remarkable and transformative one, demanding patience, self-care, and a keen understanding of the evolving needs of your body. As we’ve explored week by week, from the initial days following surgery through the gradual resumption of daily activities and exercise, it becomes evident that post-c-section recovery is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Instead, it’s a unique and deeply personal voyage, one that requires the embrace of your body’s remarkable ability to heal, adapt, and thrive.

Week by week, the healing process unfolds, and as you progress, you’ll discover not only the resilience of your physical self but also the strength within. Whether you’re celebrating small victories like regaining core strength, experiencing decreased pain, or finding your way back to an active lifestyle, each week brings you closer to a renewed sense of well-being. So, remember, take it one step at a time, cherish the progress you make, and above all, be kind to yourself on this incredible post-c-section journey.

Make A Full Recovery Post C-Section

If you are planning for a c-section or just had a c-section, you probably have a lot of questions. Before you go, check out our other guides on giving birth by surgery and healing from your surgical birth.

What To Do The Night Before A C-Section

Your First Shower After A C-Section

What To Eat After A C-Section For A Quick Recovery

C-Section Recovery: The A-Z Guide

The Ultimate C-Section Recovery Kit

Breastfeeding After A C-Section

When Can I Bend Again After A C-Section?

C-Section Scar Itching

C-Section Pooch