If you’re reading this, chances are you had a c-section.

And maybe you too feared-slash-couldn’t wait for your pregnancy to be over (especially in those last weeks) like I did.

You were nervous about the pain (I mean, does it really feel THAT bad?). You didn’t think there could be worse things to worry about.

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I read up on ways to best prepare myself for what was to come. I squatted, I bounced, I stretched (yep, down there) – anything to try to make the pain of labor go by as fast as possible. What I didn’t research was how I’d feel after the baby came.

And I should have.

Well, I also should have researched what happens when EVERYTHING seems to go wrong and your epidural stops working and baby gets stuck and you end up having to be wheeled into the freaking cold O.R. and the anesthesia doesn’t take so you have to go under…

I didn’t know the nurses would come in every few hours and push down on my aching belly and I’d have to bite my tongue to stop me from screaming. (Well, apparently they do this no matter how you deliver – doesn’t matter. It still hurts.)

I didn’t know they would take the catheter out after only one day and make me get up to go to the bathroom. Umm hello! I just had my stomach cut open, and you expect me to do what??

Or that just the idea of going to the bathroom would be the SCARIEST thing ever.

It’s true – having a baby is wonderful. And yes those contractions do hurt (but not as bad as I thought they’d be). And the whole c-section thing really through me for a loop.

But I was so not ready for the after part, especially when I got home and no longer had a team of nurses caring for me 24/7.

Here’s the list of everything I eventually discovered (and a few other things I wish I’d had) that helped make my post-emergency c-section recovery bearable!

1. Walk

walking can help you recover faster from a csection

As my OB said, you can tell which mamas at the hospital have had previous c-sections because these are the ones that are walking up and down the halls as soon as they are able. Walking helps you heal faster. Lying in bed and letting everyone wait on you, like we all want to do (and frankly I think we ALL deserve), doesn’t.

At the hospital I took baby for walks in the hallways. Yes, you will move slowly. I had to grab the side rails and hug the wall to get to the lounge the first time, but I did it. You can do it too.

2. Take Care…Down There

This of course goes for both cesarean and vaginal deliveries. If you had a c-section, you’ll have a bandage over your incision to keep it clean and dry. You can remove the bandage when you shower – but make sure you don’t scrub the area around the incision (I almost feel stupid for saying this because it will be the last thing you’ll want to do). Just let the soap and water from the shower run down your stomach for now.

Before you leave the hospital they will probably take out your staples (I was so scared this would be painful but it wasn’t – don’t worry!) and they’ll put some tape on the wound. The tape should stay on for about a week – let these start to come loose on their own. Once they’re loose, you can take off the tape in the shower.

And be mindful of what you are lifting too in these first weeks. I was told nothing over 10 pounds. Well Squiggles was 11 lbs at birth (yep!) so I was limited to just carrying her (definitely not her and the carseat, that combo was way too heavy…and still is).

Even though I was in labor for 15 hours, I never got to the pushing part so my downstairs didn’t get destroyed. But if you had a vaginal birth odds are it’s not feeling so great (I know, understatement of the year right there). I’ve heard great things about sitz baths once you’ve been cleared to take them. Carly over at Mommy On Purpose has some great tips for taking a sitz bath (and also how to pee now too)!

3. Peri Bottle = Your New Best Friend

And get more than one if you can (you can order peri bottles online, and there is even one designed for more accurate squirting! Neato). Peeing, even if you didn’t have a vaginal delivery, will be a top fear in the first few days…second only to pooping (btw Lynzy & Co has a hilarious and informative post about postpartum pooping).

So, keep it clean my friends. It helps.

4. TUCKS Pads

tucks pads to recover after giving birth

I didn’t have these, I just got regular-old extra absorbent period pads and they worked okay, but I wish I’d had the cooling relief these provide. These are great if you go end up getting hemorrhoids – I still can’t believe this didn’t happen to me (I know I’m just jinxing myself for next time). You can stock up on Tucks Pads now here.

5. Cleaning Supplies Caddy

cleaning supplies caddy to organize your after birth essentials

Wait…what? You heard me loud and clear, and trust me this is a game changer. Here’s a link to the one I have.

I put EVERYTHING in my caddy : my peri bottle (this is why you need more than one), pads, pain meds, Colace (I literally look this like it was candy), vitamins, fenugreek/Reglan, Gatorade, water bottle, snacks, nipple shield, pump parts…EVERYTHING.

And I kept it in bed with me…and I took it with me into the living room the nights I had to sleep on the couch rocking baby to sleep…and I took it with me to the bathroom…and to the kitchen – everywhere. Have a caddy will make it so much easier to find what you need when you need it. You will need one. And love it.

6. Grab Extra Mesh Undies

Granny panties were one of the things I did buy and put it my hospital bag, but I honestly prepared the mesh undies. Luckily they gave me a bunch extra so I had about a week’s worth when I got home.

7. Nursing AND Pumping Bra

pumping and nurse bra

I’ve mentioned before about why you want a nursing and pumping bra combo, but just take my word for it and get a few of these in advance. There are probably prettier ones out there, but I bought these Rumina pumping bras and I’m still wearing them now (yep right this very minute!). *Note: I took the padding out because it was just easier.

8. Comfy Robe

I was one of those who LIVED in my robe the two weeks after I got home from the hospital (even when my in-laws stayed with me, ha). It was just so much easier to wear a nursing tank or bra underneath and then I could easily transition to skin-to-skin or breastfeed (or pump) whenever I needed to without getting cold.

You will be so busy feeding, changing and holding baby you shouldn’t worry about what to wear. Nursing bra, tank top, mesh undies, pajama pants. Done and done.

9. Lots of Towels

If you had an IV…you will sweat. A lot.

Especially at night.

So it might be wise to sleep on some towels so you don’t wake up all wet and cold. AND IF YOU ARE SWEATING EXTENSIVELY AT NIGHT, like I was, talk to your doctor ASAP. You want to be aware of what you need need to watch out for after having a c-section.

10. Drink Water

how to stay hydrated after having a c-section

Hopefully your hospital will give you a giant 32 oz cup (with straw!) as souvenir like mine did. And I filled it up at least four times each day. Water and staying hydrated is essential for recovery and breastfeeding, so make sure you have a good quality water bottle ready to go – and preferably one with a straw so your husband can help you get that much needed hydration when baby has fallen asleep on your chest and the moment is just too precious to disturb.

11. What to Wear

I’ve already mentioned what I lived in – comfy robe, nursing bra/tank, mesh undies, pajama pants. Yep, I channeled my inner “frumpy mom” from the get-go.

BUT if you plan on leaving the house, or just want to feel a bit more put together, I recommend maxi skirts, high-waisted leggings, flow-y tops, and cardigans (check out more postpartum recommendations here).

I had Squiggles in May, and although I dropped a good 20-30 pounds in the first few weeks, I still hung onto another 20 pounds for another four months. Unlike some, my body didn’t bounce back after baby – and it still hasn’t – but I’ve embraced it. Plus, I’d rather wear joggers or  these leggings than tight skinny jeans any day.

However, if you’re a jeans girl at heart, Lauren McBride has some great ideas for postpartum jeans if that’s your endgame.

12. Freezer Meals

freezer meal preparation

You’ve probably seen this tip before, and it’s a great one. And I did this – I went to Costco and bought a bazillion pounds of meat and prepped chicken fajitas and apple pork chops for the slow-cooker. What I didn’t realize was that, when you have a new baby, you will probably be eating in your bed, or on the couch, or as you walk around the house…basically everywhere.

Because with a new baby (and this only gets harder throughout that first year) finding time to sit down and eat can be a challenge. So whatever meals you decide to prep in advance – make sure they are finger foods, okay?

Oh, and do yourself a favor and stock up on paper plates and bowls now. Enough for that first month. You’ll be happy you did.

13. Easy Changing Station

baby essentials needed for baby changing station

You’ve probably already got the changing pad wrapped in a pretty cover sitting on baby’s dresser – I sure did. And guess what? I can count on one hand (okay, well maybe two) how many times I’ve changed Squiggles there.

This was partly because I couldn’t go up the stairs the first few weeks. Still, I was crazy to have thought I would go to her nursery every time she needed a change.

That’s just nuts.

Don’t do that to yourself. Inside, stash a few diapers, a packet of wipes, a blanket, and some A&D in the living room, in the bedroom…heck, where-ever.

14. Multiple Breastfeeding Pillows

Just a lot of pillows really. But the specially designed breastfeeding pillows will help protect your incision. Plus it really is easier (in the beginning) with a Boppy.

I really like the My Brest Friend nursing pillows because they can strap around your waist and you can get up and walk around with it already in place if you need to change rooms for whatever reason. I recommend having at least two nursing pillows – keep one in the bed or where ever you “sleep” with baby, and keep the other where you spend more of your time during the day.

15. Lactation Foods

If you’re like me, your milk will take its time coming in. Don’t worry, it’s pretty common after having a c-section.

I was so thankful when my sister-in-law shared her lactation cookies with me at the hospital (because we delivered one day apart – insane!). And I ate those things like crazy for the first month. Target has some ready-made lactation cookies you can get that are yummy if you them ASAP.

I definitely recommend stocking up on Gatorade (or coconut water), Mother’s Milk Tea, lactation cookies, and oatmeal for the first few weeks of baby. Here are some yummy and easy recipes to help boost your milk supply.

16. Belly Corset

This is something I wish I would have tried. Because I still have my baby pouch almost a year later (I’ve been told it will never go away – sigh.). A Mama Tale recommends this one.

Apparently they also make something called C Panty specifically for c-section recovery.

And there you have it! My list of tips and what to get to help you in your postpartum recovery. Congratulations on your sweet little one, they make it all worth it!

What you need after having a c-section


Image Credits: Natanael Melchor / Unsplash; Anika Huizinga / Unsplash; Alan Carrillo / Unsplash; Igor Miske / Unsplash