Recovering from a c-section is the kind of thing that no one really talks about. There isn't much common knowledge about the ramifications and recovery from the procedure. The typical response to a c-section surgery goes something like this, "do whatever it takes to get a healthy baby and healthy mommy". While I agree with that sentiment, there is a lot more to a c-section than a simple acceptance of what was probably inevitable. I can't speak for other women, but personally, going through a c-section with the delivery of my second baby boy was a total and complete shock, and the processing and recovery was something I wasn't prepared for. There is so much I didn't know about c-sections - which means most people probably don't really know about them either. It's baffling that it's such a normal procedure now, because it certainly doesn't feel like "no big deal" when you go through it. It's major, a major abdominal surgery. And the incision isn't just skin-deep - there is a lot of mental and emotional healing needed to process the experience.
I do want to say that I am extremely thankful that I had a c-section, because it was most likely the only safe way my baby boy was going to make his way into the world. I don't know why these things happen, with situations like babies getting stuck or being turned funny, but sometimes they do. I've been trying my best to respond with kindness toward myself and patience for the recovery process. Because it is a process. Each day is a new day for grace toward myself and toward this body that I hardly recognize. My incision still aches, 9 weeks postpartum, most likely due to the scar tissue. But I look forward to the day when the pain is finally completely gone!
I want to put a disclaimer out there that my recommendations below are purely based on my own experience. Not everything works the same for everyone, but I feel lucky to have had an incredibly supportive team around me and some handy products to help with those first few weeks of intensity; healing from the surgery and doing life with a newborn. I want to share what worked and really helped ease the discomfort.
My Postpartum Must Haves:
I have been wearing these Blanqi Postpartum Leggings pretty much every other day since I had Daxton. I barely fit into any other pants right now, but that's not the only reason I keep turning to these trusty leggings. The truth is, they are equally soft and supportive, which is really necessary when you have a super sore incision site. The high waist keep anything from rubbing on the scarred area - keeping me pain-free and helping everything heal. I can't say enough good and wonderful things about the Blanqi supportwear that I've discovered during this pregnancy and now postpartum - this gear is absolutely THE BEST. (I shared about my favorite of Blanqi pieces here.)
High-Waisted Underwear. AKA Granny Panties.
It's getting sexy now. Trust me when I say that you are going to want to comfortable, non-constricting underwear for a long while after the surgery, for the same reason as the leggings. These are great options. And yes, you need to do a little dance when you put them on. Because you need all the reasons you can get to LAUGH while you are recovering from surgery.
The Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Spray is the first of this company's products that I used, way back when I had just given birth to Everett over 2.5 years ago. I loved this product so much that I reached out to the company during this pregnancy and let them know what an incredible relief I experienced from using this spray. Even though I didn't have a vaginal delivery this time, I did have the unusual experience of having my doctor's hand up inside me (birth story here), attempting to turn my baby. So to be fair, there was a similar amount of wear and tear down under. This Bottom Spray doesn't just mask the pain, it really does help heal after the physical trauma of childbirth. You just spray it on every time you use the restroom and it cools and heals. (For those ladies who don't have a c-section, this is great to start using once you don't need to use the perineal spray bottle anymore.)
My abdomen was really tender and sore for at least a month after the surgery, and I needed a way to protect my belly from the loving (but painful) pokes of my toddler. Seemingly normal tasks like walking up to the kitchen counter became kind of dangerous, because I could accidentally knock the exact area of the incision and it would cause the cursing kind of pain. Also, laughing or coughing was kind of dreadful because of the pressure, and I even talked to my doctor about how nervous I was that I was going to cough and accidentally re-open the wound. It felt like I was just going to pop open and spew everything. I know, SO GROSS, but the sensation was real. Wearing an abdomen binder like this one (I got mine from the hospital) really helped protect my whole Abdomen and actually provided a lot of support for breastfeeding during those first few weeks. FYI a lot of hospitals tell patients to wear these, and then some hospitals recommend against it because they don't want to give the muscles a chance to weaken. I think it's best to chat with your doctor about what's right for you.
Fractionated Coconut Oil + Essential Oils.
Since I returned home from the hospital, I've been eager to heal the stretch marks on my belly (I got a few right around my belly button this time, so frustrating!), and heal the scar from the surgery, which is a few inches south of my belly button. Every single time I get out of the shower, I slather my abdomen with this Invivo Fractionated Coconut Oil. Then I add a few drops of Doterra's Frankincense and Lavender essential oils to my stomach and rub it all around. These oils are all good for toning and repairing the skin, and I wanted to make every effort to heal up my tired, stretched out midsection. (I've also started using Palmer's Coconut Butter, slathering it on in the evenings just before going to bed. I kind of hate the smell, but my sister told me to and I listen.)
I started using this Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm about a month before I went into labor. The ingredients (you can see the full list here) are perfect for healing up hemorrhoids, which I had the pleasure of experiencing during the second half of my pregnancy. This balm provided so much relief and healing. I know that no one really wants to talk about what goes on down there in terms of fissures and whatnot, but let's get real - having babies can have some pretty wicked side effects. This balm has an amazingly cooling effect, which provides so so SO much relief. I would recommend this to my closest of friends - heal your lady parts!
Things slow down in the bowel movement arena after a c-section, even moreso than a vaginal delivery. So drinking this tea reeeeally helps move things along.
These Earth Mama Angel Baby Postpartum Bath Herbs are so soothing, and this is perhaps even better for mamas who have a vaginal delivery. You can put these herbs directly into a sitz bath, or even a bath tub, and the ingredients aid in healing and comforting after labor and delivery. Yes oh yes please.
I am not a pill-popper. I don't even like taking Tylenol for headaches. But c-section surgery is no joke, and if you ever want to laugh again (EVER), you really should take the pain relief that the hospital prescribes. I found that it made everything more tolerable and actually helped me be more mobile, especially during the first 2 weeks after Daxton's birth. I weaned off from the heavy stuff once I got home, but even taking the basic Motrin helped so so much. This is the time in life to take the drugs.
Find the brand you love and get the largest, most absorbent pads you can find, I liked these and these. It's ironic to be that girl in the Target aisle, reading all the packaging on each of the pads boxes, looking for the fattest, most ostentatious diaper-like maxis of all time. But for this strange postpartum season, YOU WANT THE BIG PADS. Also, I like to pick up some panty liners too, because there will come a day when the flood will turn to a trickle. Have I grossed you out enough yet? Okay, I'm pretty much done.
Other postpartum thoughts:
I've been living in these nursing tanks, I've been drinking this tea everyday, I love rubbing this oil on my neck and wrists (it lifts my mood instantly), this nipple balm is heaven for breastfeeding, and I've been eating all the things because even though I still have pregnancy weight to lose (20 lbs. you guys!!!), dieting makes me sad. Oh, and Netflix has been my BFF. Am I the only person left that is still watching 30 Rock episodes? I love the Tina Fey-Alec Baldwin dynamic so much.
I hope these recommendations help, whether you're preparing for a scheduled c-section or you are currently recovering from an unexpected one. And give me a shout in the comments if there is something specific that helped in your recovery - as someone who might have to get another c-section one day, I would love to hear about what worked for you!
And now for a giveaway!
Earth Mama Angel Baby is a brand that I love and have been using for years now. I love the toxic-free, organic and herbal ingredients - especially for sensitive areas! I am so happy to be able to partner with Earth Mama and give away the postpartum products I chatted about to one lucky mama-to-be - the Bottom Spray, Bottom Balm and Postpartum Bath Herbs. Head over to my instagram for your chance to enter to win. The giveaway is open to U.S.- residents only (so sorry!), will run for a week, and the winner will be contacted on 2/24. Good luck!
P.S. - My postpartum essentials for a vaginal labor and delivery, from my experience delivering my 1st son over 2.5 years ago. Whew, babies. They're lucky they are so cute :)
Many thanks to Earth Mama Angel Baby for sponsoring this post.