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Whether you had a surprise or a planned c-section, you’ve just had a major surgery and will need to give your body some extra time to heal, and that’s okay!
So how long will it take to heal? Every woman is different and our bodies will heal at different times, but most doctors say by 6 weeks you can do most of the things you did before your surgery. Just take it easy and do what is best for you at your own pace.
Let’s talk about how to physically heal after your c-section. Most moms have questions about how to properly exercise after surgery. Right after you have your baby and the anesthesia wears off, most doctors will have you up and walking either to the bathroom or up and down the hospital halls. Getting up and moving is a really good way to help your body heal faster, but don’t overdo it! Once you get home, take it easy. You can go on short walks, or lift light weights if you’re feeling up for it. Slowly push yourself to do a little more each day. It’s okay if you need to rest though.
What about swimming or taking a bath? Most doctors will tell you to avoid swimming or bathing until your 6 week postpartum check up for a couple reasons. One, because your uterus needs time to heal up, and two because your incision will also need time to heal. You will get the green light to take a shower though. Just let the water run off of your tummy. Don’t scrub on your incision or you will irritate it and it won’t heal properly!
Breastfeeding is also a challenge for some moms after they have a c-section. For me, I didn’t buy a nursing pillow at first, because I thought that it would rub on my incision and hurt, but after using the boppy nursing pillow at the hospital, I made my husband get me one of my own. The nursing pillow was a lifesaver for my healing. Try to avoid laying your baby right on your incision because trust me, it hurts! You can use a nursing pillow, do the football hold on your baby, or you can even lay down next to your baby while they eat. Aside from the pain from your surgery, your uterus will contract for the first few weeks after having a baby. Just be prepared for a little bit of pain during feedings, and know that it is normal and part of the healing process!
Some other tips could include getting yourself some stool softeners, some tylenol or ibuprofen, and a heating pad or ice pack. Your incision is going to be sore for a few weeks, but all of these things should help ease that pain! It takes about 3 months average for your incision to fully heal.
Now, let's talk about your mental health after having a c-section. I won’t sugar coat it. Any surgery is hard, and sometimes not being able to do the normal or basic things that you could before can be hard. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. You just went through something so amazing and brought new life into this world! Your body did an extraordinary thing! What really helped me was writing down my feelings in a journal. I tried to remind myself of what I just accomplished and that someday I would be able to do normal things again. I know it’s hard, but try to stay positive. Positive thinking will go along ways for your mental health. You can read more about mental health in my blog “Self Care After Having a Baby”.
Also remember that if you are having so much pain or have any questions, don’t be afraid to call your doctor. They are there to help you so that you can focus on taking care of that precious new baby!