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10 tips for a smooth C-section recovery

Jessie Day, in partnership with WholeNest  |   14 Feb 2023


Planned or not, having a C-section is a big deal. You’ve just brought a new life into the world and now you’ve got to deal with healing from a major operation. Almost a third of births in the United States are now through C-section and they’re safer than ever, but it’s still important to take time to rest, heal and listen to your body.

C-section recovery typically means spending two to three days in the hospital to ensure you’re on the mend before heading home. From there, let’s look at some gentle things you can do in the days and weeks that follow, to speed up the healing process and ensure you’re as healthy as possible, for you and your baby.

WholeNest are the hearts and minds behind a gorgeous range of natural products and support for all stages of pregnancy. Their beautiful sprays, ointments and balms are formulated to promote wellbeing and promote your body’s natural healing powers.

WholeNest have helped us fire off a quick checklist on how to improve C-section recovery time and get back to full capacity. Let’s go (gently)!

1. Reduce the strain with easy movements

Although you should be taking it very easy immediately after your surgery, you still need to get in and out of bed, and some light movement is good for getting the blood flowing. You want to avoid straining your abdominal muscles – when getting up, turn on your side, bend your knees and use your hands to gently push yourself up into a sitting position. Try not to do anything close to a sit-up or a crunch as your abdominal wound needs all the rest it can get.

2. Keep the wound clean

To help encourage healing and prevent infection you need to keep your wound clean once you get back home. Your midwife will advise you on when to remove the dressing (if it’s still on) and show you how to keep it clean. Usually the advice will be to gently clean it with warm water and keep it dry. Wear your comfiest high-rise underwear (did you need another excuse?) to prevent rubbing which can irritate the wound.

3. Treat yourself to postpartum wellness products

Your overall health is a big determiner of healing time. In those early, delicate days following a C-section, one of the easiest ways to give yourself a boost is with the right blend of postpartum wellbeing products. WholeNest’s Postpartum Essential Kit is a bundle of goodies to help with physical and mental healing, as well as all-important downtime (aka SLEEP).

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4. Sleep lots (if you  can) – and on your side

On that illusive topic of sleep, it’s a no-brainer that plenty of rest can boost your recovery time as all that energy can be directed towards healing your wound. To put as little pressure on the wound as possible it’s best to sleep on your side with your knees bent. Placing a pillow between your knees can help prevent back pain and give you a better night’s sleep as well.

5. Do some gentle pelvic floor exercises

Great for building up strength in the pelvic region as well as helping you to relax, you don’t need to do anything crazy here. A few daily seated kegel exercises, wall sits and deep belly breathing can all provide great support for your healing muscles, and they can be performed wherever you are without equipment.

6. Leave the heavy lifting to others

As a new mom in recovery, you shouldn’t really be lifting anything much heavier than your newborn for the first three to four weeks after returning home. You should also avoid intense exercise, driving, strenuous housework and (probably) sex as well until your body’s on the mend.

7. Use period or maternity pads (tampons are a no-no)

It’s normal following a C-section to experience vaginal discharge and bleeding. This should reduce within the first three to four weeks, but it’s important (whether you’ve had a C-section or not) to avoid tampons until at least your six-week postnatal checkup, as they can increase the chances of infection. Period pads – or maternity pads – are your friend here.

8. Take painkillers (if you want)

Standard over-the-counter painkillers can help make you more comfortable and relieve tension, especially in the early days after a C-section. Your midwife will probably give you painkillers before you leave the hospital – paracetamol and ibuprofen are both safe to take when breastfeeding.

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9. Nourish yourself with hydration & nutrition

An obvious one but easy to overlook, good hydration and a nutritious diet are two invaluable tools for your C-sec recovery, and for nurturing your postpartum body in general. You’ll need extra fluids and vitamins, especially if you’re breastfeeding, and you should choose foods that are rich in iron to help balance out blood loss from the delivery – lean meats, nuts, seeds, spinach and kale are all great options.

10. Go to every postpartum check-up

The 12 weeks after giving birth are often referred to as the fourth trimester for a reason – this is a time of healing and ongoing changes in your body, and you’re at a higher risk of infection and illnesses. Attend all your postpartum check-ups where to get a professional opinion on your progress and prevent potential future health issues developing.

Please note: if you experience intense pain, heavy vaginal bleeding or you think your incision may be infected, contact a medical professional immediately.

Don’t put pressure to stick to all of these tips. Implementing just a few of them regularly will still make a big difference to your recovery time.  Your body has been through a lot, so be kind to yourself. 

Explore the gorgeous WholeNest range, formulated with care to help support each stage of your pregnancy and postpartum journey. 

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