6 Tips for Faster Recovery After a Cesarean Section

Mother cradling newborn in hospital
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Whether you had a scheduled or unplanned cesarean section, the recovery may be a bit of a shock to you. There are a couple of things that can help ease your recovery and get you back on your feet after surgery. These tips come from other mothers who have been down this road before.

Take Your Pain Medications

Many women stop taking their pain medications too early and wind up in much more pain. It can become a vicious cycle. So take your pain medications as prescribed, making sure you take them before the pain becomes too bad.

This helps to prevent "chasing the pain" and never really finding relief. (If non-narcotic medications don't relieve your pain, talk to your doctor.) Once the first few days have passed, you can slowly alter your pain medication schedule to ease away from painkillers until you're medication-free.

Get Out of Bed

Believe it or not, getting up as soon as you can and moving around, even if it's just a little bit, can help you recover more quickly. It can help you feel better physically as well as emotionally. Just be sure that you get up with someone else's help the first few times, as you are going to be pretty shaky.

Once you're able to take short trips to the bathroom, consider walking around the floor at the hospital. These laps are typically going to be slow, but it's not the speed that matters, it's the movement.

Plan Ahead

Once you're home and recovering there, be sure to plan ahead. Plan to be in one area that has a basket with everything you'll need: your phone, medications, a bottle of water, book, TV remote, etc.

When you're sleeping, sleep near your baby so you don't have to go as far to get to them. You can also try to have meals handy that can be made easily. Frozen dinners work well if you're alone and don't have help, as do sandwiches. Remember, eating nutritiously will also help you recover.

Get a Small Pillow

Use the pillow to splint your incision when standing for the first few days, or when you cough or laugh. This can reduce the pain and help you feel more stable. Later, the pillow can be useful to help with positioning your baby for breastfeeding.

Go Slowly

Remember, you've just had a baby and major surgery. You need to increase your activity levels very slowly over the course of the next six to eight weeks. Don't pick up anything heavier than your baby, and don't start exercising until you get the all-clear from your doctor.

Also remember that even though your baby was born via your abdomen, you will still bleed vaginally. If you do too much, sometimes you will notice an increase in the amount of bleeding.

Wear Compression Boots

These are plastic sleeves that cover your lower leg and squeeze your legs to help the blood flood return faster to the heart. This strategy is frequently used after a c-section to help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If you are up and moving around, these can usually be discontinued. But before that, don't scoff at them.

Accept Help

Even if you had time to plan ahead for cesarean recovery, something may catch you off guard. Don't be afraid to ask for help and support from your healthcare provider, family, friends, and neighbors.

Sometimes a friendly face and a listening ear can go a long way towards making your recovery better. You should also ensure that you keep up with postpartum check-ups. These are scheduled to help ensure that you are healing correctly after surgery. Having a cesarean can impact future pregnancies, but a healthy recovery can help minimize that process.

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  2. Macones GA, Caughey AB, Wood SL, et al. Guidelines for postoperative care in cesarean delivery: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Society recommendations (Part 3 ). Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2019. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2019.04.012