Postpartum Survival Guide: C-Section Recovery

The first few weeks after delivering a beautiful baby is so much fun, except not so much. Yes, it is miraculous, but it’s also hard work. In an effort to provide some insight, today we’re discussing the nitty gritty things (some are downright embarrassing) that will help with recovery after delivering a baby via C-section. If you are squeamish or very conservative, then you won’t hurt my feelings by looking away from this post, because some of the details I’m about to share are somewhat uncomfortable. Yet all of the items I’m about to describe were absolutely essential to me. Here are my favorite postpartum survival guide items that I used or found comfort in after my own C-section. I wrote about some of these things in my Hospital Bag Necessities post, but this list is more comprehensive focusing on the first few weeks of recovery and focusing just on you, mama. 
Postpartum Survival Guide Items. All the items you'll need to survive the first few weeks after delivering your baby!
1. Your Meds.

Your doctor will more than likely prescribe to you pain pills that are safe for nursing along with a stool softener. So much fun. Listen to your doctor: be a good patient and follow all post-op instructions. Some advice given to me was to not let the pain get out of control and to take the pain meds exactly as directed. (I wrote down the time of each dose and set the timer for the next.) I think keeping control of the pain helped me take care of my sweet baby. Don’t try and be super woman. Surgery is hard on the body. Giving birth via surgery is even harder. About two weeks after my C-section, maybe sooner, I stopped using my prescribed pain pills and stuck to Advil/Ibuprofen. I had to buy it again since I had been so used to taking Tylenol throughout pregnancy, and let me tell you, I could not have done without it.

2. Abdominal Binder (aka Belly Binder). 

Do not mistake this with a Belly Bandit. This abdominal binder is something that you can request while in the hospital. My doctor put me in one when he noticed I was in a lot of pain and was more bloated than a blow fish. It compresses your stomach, is super soft and stretchy, and just holds everything together. I wore this for at least four weeks. Then once my swelling went away completely, I switched to a Belly Bandit. The Belly Bandit is more stiff and can be somewhat uncomfortable when sitting, not very comfortable if you’re dealing with a sensitive incision. The abdominal binder is the way to go for the first few weeks.

Yep, I’m going there. One of my best girlfriends told me about these suckers and how I would be introduced to them in the hospital. I cannot tell you enough about how much I loved these things. Stock up at the hospital and take them home with you! You can wash them like normal, and believe me, you will want to wear these forever. Well, maybe not forever, but you get my point.

The bigger the better, sister. I had “heard” about the bleeding nonsense that would happen after delivery, but people are not joking. It. never. ends. (Ten weeks for me if you need a reference.) Tampons are a no-go, so back to the old-school giant maxi pads with wings it is. They go so great with the mesh panties. My go-to style and brand was Always Extra Heavy Overnight Maxi Pads with Wings.

5. Peri Bottle.
This is another little contraption you’ll be given at the hospital, and you will find great comfort knowing that you can take this home with you. I’ll let your nurse explain or you can Google its use. (Because I just can’t bring myself to type it out. I had to draw the line somewhere. However, I couldn’t leave this thing off the list. You’re welcome.)

6. Water Jug with a straw. 
Yet another great gift from the hospital that was much appreciated. Technically you paid for it, but seriously, these water jugs are my favorite. When you’re not feeding your baby, you’ll probably be propped up by lots of pillows to help keep you comfortable as you’re learning to adjust to life with a very sensitive incision. Thus a water jug with a lid and a straw is super convenient. While recovering, you also should note that water will become your best friend. Its benefits are pretty limitless. Water helps with the swelling, nursing, and fatigue. Staying hydrated is so important. I filled up my water jug at least two to three times a day.

7. Medela Tender Care Lanolin Cream
If you will be nursing, lanolin cream is a must. Lots of things are going to hurt and feel uncomfortable for the first couple of weeks, but thankfully, we live in a day and age where we have something to fix most discomforts. I tried several different nipple creams, and the Medela brand was my favorite. Put this on before and after nursing. Because I did this, I feel like it helped keep the cracked nipples away.

8. Medela 100% Cotton Washable Nursing Pads
I preferred the cotton nursing pads because I have sensitive skin. I bought several pairs, and I was so glad I did. You will find yourself changing them often, but they were so much more comfortable than the disposable, synthetic fiber versions.

9. Nursing Tanks.
These nursing tanks from Red Dot Boutique (Target) were my absolute favorite. I lived in them day and night, and I paired them with my maternity yoga pants. These tanks can also help you transition back into a real wardrobe. I wore them as a camisole underneath cardigans, tshirts, and blouses nine times out of 10 when I started to venture out of the house. For more options on nursing wear for the first few weeks at the house, be sure to check out my Hospital Bag Necessities post.

10. Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump.
If you plan on nursing (for just a little while or for a long while), a breast pump is pretty necessary to relieve your engorged breasts. Once your milk comes in, nursing becomes a serious job. That breast pump becomes quite the handy gadget for any overflow or discomfort. My choice after lots of research was the Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump. I plan on doing a post about nursing and pumping soon, so stay tuned for that if you’re interested. 

11. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow
This nursing pillow was the best for nursing after having a C-section. Why? Because it belts around your waist and stays put. Its large flat surface is also a plus.

12. Happiest Baby on the Block.
I didn’t read this book until my baby girl was born, but I wish I would have read it before she made her grand entrance. The techniques suggested in this book for calming a baby helped out tremendously. We definitely noticed a difference after we started using them. In a nutshell, it’s all about the 5 S’s for calming a baby: swaddle, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking. I highly suggest reading all about each of the methods and why and how they work to keep your baby happy.

13. Total Baby App
Mom-brain is a real thing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Because of it, this app is a great companion to keep your baby’s daily events on track, especially if you begin working on a schedule. I used it to track diaper changes, nursing sessions, sleep times, bath time, tummy time, spit up, etc. Anything my little babe did, I made a note of it. I found this app especially useful at our well-check visits with the pediatrician. When the doc asked how much my baby ate and how often, how many diapers we were going through and what kind, and how long were the naps and nighttime sleep, I pulled out my phone and knew exactly what to tell her. The app also lets you know how long it has been since each documented event has taken place (ex. 2 hours since last nursing session) which I found to be the most helpful attribute. There is also a diary feature that helps you keep track of milestones. I still use this app 17 months later.

14. Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle. 
When your insomnia and sleep deprivation set in, you’ll need a pick-me-up. This book is just that! I laughed, cried, and found so many truths in this wonderful book about motherhood. Melanie is so relatable and could easily be one of my BFFs. Not to mention, her blog Big Mama is one of my very favorite pieces of the internet.

15. Downton Abbey boxed set (or any DVR’d or DVD series). 

When you’re stuck in your home because you fear that anything and everything will harm your newborn, your TV can become a great addition to the family. TV shows and movies were our main source of entertainment for quite some time after we brought our sweet baby home. I had DVR’d a ton of my favorite shows prior to my delivery because I knew I would catch up once I felt the need to quarantine ourselves. My DVR’d shows also kept me awake in the middle of the night when I had to nurse. One of my most favorite shows is Downton Abbey, so if you haven’t watched it yet, this would be a great series to begin.

There you have it, all of the items I found necessary to help me through my C-section recovery. Add in some family help and some serious prayers and you’re set. Never in my life did I think I would have a blog talking about pads and panties and nipple cream, but here we are. Pads, panties, and peri bottles, oh my! You never know where life will take you. Like Robin Roberts says, “Make your mess your message.” Hopefully the mess that was my C-section postpartum days and the things I learned during that time has helped a sister out. Because we’re all in it together, girlfriend. Here’s to a happy, healthy baby and an easy, comfortable recovery!

This post is part of my New Mama 101 series. Be sure to check here for previous posts in the series and to see what else is in store. 

Feel free to leave an encouraging comment to new mamas or to add something to the list. If you’re a new mama and have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask. 

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  • I will keep in my mind your list when I have my baby. Me and my husband are not planning yet to have a baby but it's always good to have some knowledge before getting pregnant. Congratulations on your baby! May God give you grace, wisdom in this precious and so important role as a mother. Found you on the angel project Link up. Priscila.

    • Thank you so much, Priscilla! My daughter is now 17 months old, and I love learning the depth of Christ's love through her. Because of her, I decided that I wanted to continue to help others through this blog, to spread a little joy and to help new mamas out, too, which is why I have this particular series that you've found here, New Mama 101. Looking forward to following you as well!

  • Peri bottle- laughing out loud, literally!

  • I am coming to you from the Thee Angel Project. I can't wait to get to know you.

    • Thanks so much, Chris! It's so funny that all of y'all coming from Thee Angel Project are getting to see this post first. Be sure to check out my Mama Faith tab on my header. ;) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • I can get behind most of these…but the Mesh panties drove me nuts after about day three. Real underwear was essential for some sense of normalcy.
    Great list!

    • Haha! I guess they worked for me because 1) I couldn't find any undies that fit me right since I had gained so much weight and 2) they didn't bother my incision at all. I went back to normal underwear after all of my swelling went away and I was happy about that. ;) Thanks for stopping by again and thanks so much for getting all of us together!

  • I use a few of these! Omg postpartum it could either give you lot of emotions, you could add a big box of Klennex I remember my first child when he wouldn't go to sleep and I spend hours crying because I couldn't rest well #shinebloghop

    • Oh, yes, Remy! I'll be talking about all of those things soon. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

  • I've had 3 c-sections, so I can say from firsthand experience that this is spot on! I loved it so much that I featured your post in today's Pin-it Party. Thanks for linking up!

    • Thanks so much, Gabby! :) So happy to hear that a C-section veteran agreed. Thanks for the feature!