My c-section was not expected or planned. I was not of the mind-set “I’m cool with wherever my birth leads”. I was dead set on a natural birth. But when baby failed the BPP test for having zero fluid in the womb, my plans changed real quick. Needless to say I had NOTHING in my home set up to cater to my c-section revery. I made these adjustments on the fly, in the moment. Hopefully my Post C-Section Essentials list can help you be a little more prepared than I was!
12 Post C-Section Essentials
1. STANDING Changing Areas
You will want to use your abs as little as possible post c-section. If you decide to forego a changing table, like I did, you’ll want to make sure your changing stations are moved up to standing level and that you are using surfaces that don’t require you to bend over, like the kitchen island, dining room table, or bar. The less you have the bend over, the happier your incision will be.
2. Nursing Stations That Are STOCKED UP!
Recovery from major abdominal surgery is exhausting. While it’s good to get up and move to prevent clots, it can be draining if you’re constantly getting up because you forgot a water, or snack, or book. That’s why I DECKED.OUT. my nursing stations with water, snacks, books, and blankets. Because once I was down, I WAS DOWN. I wasn’t moving from that nursing chair/station for a good 45-60 minutes.
3. Frozen Meals & Snacks
Having frozen meals & snacks on hand is super helpful no matter how you birthed. And even tho I haven’t had a vaginal birth, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s 10x more helpful for c-section mama’s to have frozen meals on hand. After my cessation, not only did I not want to cook, but it took a lot out of me – physically, especially in those first 6 weeks.
A good place to start is:
- 15 Homemade Soups
- 10 Crock-Pot Meals
- 10 Casserole Meals
- 3 Batches each of Pancakes & Waffles
- 3 Batches of Scones
- 10-12 Egg Sandwiches
- 4-8 Batches of Bread (I did both breakfast/dessert breads like banana bread, but also loaf/sandwich breads)
- 5 Desserts (cookies, brownie bars, etc) These come in handy for lows when you’re still adjust basal rates postpartum.
Some of my favorite recipes came from the blog Pinch of Yum. Check out her healthy freezer meal ideas HERE.
4. NOT Taking Pain Meds
Probably one the most controversial post c-section essentials thing I did was not taking meds to mask my pain. Pain is important. It tells us when we’ve pushed things to far and when to rest. Once I left the hospital I stopped taking pain meds. I knew that if I didn’t feel pain I would likely push myself too far, even with basic house chores. It’s important to be honest with yourself on this one… If you think you’d do the same, then have that conversation with yourself and consider not taking the pain-masking medication.
Personally, I liked that when I started to do too much I felt pain. I listened to my body and dialed it back, which in-turns helped the healing process.
5. Say NO to DEEP Playpens/Cribs
We’ve already covered how shitty bending over feels post c-section, so just say NO to deep playpens and cribs. We opted out of a crib because we chose to co-sleep, but we did get a portable play pen that’s AS deep as a crib. I put Miles in there ONCE during my early stages of recovery and never did it again. Instead, when I needed to put him down I used an incline sleeper, Nest on Etsy (similar to Doc-a-Tot), or just put him on the bed/couch. Keep in mind that babies really can’t move around too much in the first few months so they don’t need these fort knox style enclosures.
6. Throw Pillows
I kept a throw pillow in every room in case the unexpected sneeze or laugh popped up. Push the pillow against your incision and that sneeze or laugh will be a lot less painful.
7. Pillows To Prop Yourself Up While Sleeping
Laying flat on your back will not be comfortable for a good month or two after your section. And getting up from a laying down position is even worse. Having several pillows to prop me up while sleeping was a must. I slept the most comfortably when I was sleeping at about a 45 degree angle for the first month, then I was able to slowly take pillows away over the course of the next month or so until I was able to comfortably sleep flat.
8. Rocking Chair
When you’re used to the go-go-go pace of life, but need to take it easy because you’ve just had major abdominal surgery, sitting stationary in a chair or couch can be a draaaaaaggg. That’s why I loved my rocking chair. It gave me just enough movement so that I had an outlet for my restless legs, but not too much movement where it was sketchy for recovery.
9. High-Waisted EVERYTHING
Trust me when I say that you’ll be freaked out by anything coming even REMOTELY close to your incision. Invest in some high-waisted PJ pants, PJ shorts, and underwear… you will be living in those for several months.
10. Food to Prioritize
As you can imagine, after you create & grow life you are totally depleted of just about every nutrient in your body. The nutrients that you continue to fuel yourself with postpartum go directly to your milk production. Whatever is left over after that goes to your body to replenish it’s nutrient stores and help you with healing. Since in this nutrient line-up you’re the last one to be served, it’s super important that you focus on nutrient dense foods, especially ones that aid in healing.
The best foods to promote c-section healing are:
- Collagen: which aids in skin health, healing, scaring, and muscle recovery
- Fermented Foods/Probiotics: to build up that gut bacteria after having IV antibiotics
- Bone Broths: which contain collagen, but also a whole slew of minerals & micro nutrients.
- High Iron Foods: like slow cooked meats (like pot roast or pulled pork) or organ meats (dehydrated liver capsules are the the only way I can eat organ meat)
- Focus on cooked foods as opposed to raw: Your body is able to extract a lot more nutrients from cooked food vs raw foods. So think more stews, soups, and stir fry as opposed to salads and smoothies.
11. Saying No To Visitors
Entertaining people after surgery was not high up on my list. I kindly told people who wanted to visit that I definitely would love to see them but maybe after a few months since the surgery really knocked me on my butt. Everyone totally understood and some even offered to drop off food at our house. Your friends and family will understand and will want to do whatever they can to support you.
If they don’t, then it’s not your problem.
12. Accepting Help From Others
Don’t be shy when the people who love you offer to help. You likely won’t need help with the baby, but they can help by doing laundry, running the dishwasher, preparing some meals, walking the dog, or watering your plants/garden. But if you DO need help with the baby, I’m sure they’d be thrilled. While they’re watching the baby allow yourself to take a nice long shower or nap. Or maybe you just want to watch a TV show or read a book without someone attached to you. Whatever your jam is, do it!
It helps to make a list of things you need help with, that way they don’t have to keep coming back to you after every chore asking what else they can do. You are not being bossy, they want to help you, so let them!
Final Words of Advice…
Allow yourself to heal and rest.
I’m going to say that again. Allow yourself to heal and rest.
It’s not a race of which Mom can bounce back faster. You are not in competition with any woman.
Your body just grew a human, you are likely insanely nutrient depleted, and you just had major abdominal surgery. You aren’t proving anything to anyone when you try to race back to work or your duties as a Mom.
Rest. Recover. Take a beat and allow yourself time to heal.
In many societies (both modern and ancient) they refer to this period as the Fourth Trimester. It’s a time of great emotional and physical change as you adjust to life as a new mom (or mom to more) and your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb. A beautiful book I read on the fourth trimester is, The First Forty Days by Heng Ou.
See my other favorite pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting books HERE.
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I Want to Know
What were your post c-section essentials?