C-Section Recovery Tips + Letting Go of Mom Guilt

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April is Cesarean Section awareness month. There are many different reasons that you might have a C-section. You might be totally accepting of this birth plan or completely devastated at the thought of not having a “normal” birth. You might even be wondering how the heck you’re going to care for an infant after a huge surgery on your abdomen.

C-sections are becoming increasingly common. I myself have had 3.

The first time was due to the size of my baby, which I didn’t think was a great reason. I let myself get completely consumed by the fact that I wouldn’t get my picture perfect birth. I told myself, I should have fought more, changed doctors, or found a different hospital.

I obsessed over every possible thing I could have done to prevent a C-section.  In fact, I let it affect me for weeks after the birth, and would still burst into tears a year and a half later when I would tell my doctors and mid-wife about how I was “robbed” of experiencing childbirth.

I even tried to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) the second time around. I could totally do this!  I set myself up for success.  I had a doula and even planned to deliver at a birthing center.  After waiting 42 weeks and 2 days…yes you read that correctly…I had to be induced and experienced a partial uterine rupture and an extremely stressful repeat C-section. I was so upset once again. Was my body just not meant to give birth? I had so many friends that had successful VBACs. I felt like I was already sucking as a mom!

Mom guilt after a C-section. Preparing for a C-section, tips for recovery. #csection #momguilt #pregnancy #birth
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The third time around, I gave myself some grace. After all, my other two children still seem to like me, despite the way they were born.

I scheduled my C-section and decided to just ENJOY my baby coming into the world. Crazy, right?!

Perks to a scheduled C-section: You can make sure to get a full nights sleep and get in one last loooong shower before the birth! I also made sure to do my hair and makeup for pictures! Ha! The silver lining!

Even though I have three healthy, beautiful children, I still find myself trying to validate my C-sections to people when it comes up in conversation.  Isn’t it weird the things we beat ourselves up over as moms?  The recovery (mental and physical) is hard, but we get through it because we are moms!

C-Section recovery tips and must haves. #csection, #mom, #pregnancy, #childbirth
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Preparing for a c-section. Recovery tips and must haves. #Csection #pregnancy #birth #mom
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C-Section Recovery Tips:  For the Hospital

Postpartum Girdle or Corset. There are several different post baby corsets that you can buy. I’ve heard amazing things about the Bellefit corset, but it’s definitely pricey. My hospital actually had a very basic Velcro type girdle that they dispensed to me. It wasn’t anything fancy but it really helped. You are going to want to get up and walk as soon as they let you, to prevent constipation and gas pain.  Having the extra support, from a girdle, helps to have less pain when you are up and out of bed. This is the first time the hospital offered this to me, so I’m not sure if every hospital has these on hand, but definitely ask! It’s good to have extra compression and support around your midsection in case you need to do essential things like cough, laugh, breathe…you get it.  Also, holding a pillow against your stomach when you cough or sneeze can help support your belly so you have less pain.

Nursing Pillow.  If you plan to breastfeed, you will need a great nursing pillow.  Positioning is so important when breastfeeding after a C-section, because having to move around and readjust several times can be painful. Probably the most popular pillow is the Boppy, and that’s the one I have used all 3 times.  I do find that you need to stack up some extra pillows when the baby is a super tiny newborn, to get better positioning.  The lactation consultants at my hospital preferred the My Breast Friend pillow, but I thought it was less comfortable and very cumbersome.

Loose fitting, cozy pajamas.  I mention in my nursing outfit essentials post, that you want to make sure you have loose fitting pajamas so that they will not compress your incision site.  Most leggings or yoga pants cause too much pressure in those early swollen stages.  These Target pajamas are definite winners in my book.  I recommend sizing up from your pre pregnancy size to accommodate swelling.  They are button front for easy nursing access and the shorts are loose fitting and comfortable.

C-Section Recovery Tips:  Once You are Home.

Essentials Basket.  Make sure you have all your essentials at arm’s reach.  It can be very difficult to have to get up and down many times, or reach every which way after you’ve had a C-section.  Make sure you set up a basket with everything you need at your bedside.

This may include, but is definitely not limited to:  phone charger, remote control, huge water bottle, books, snacks, pen, notepad, phone, headphones, wallet (for online shopping…) etc.

This way you have everything you need during those lengthy newborn nursing sessions.

I found that it was easier for me to set up a bed on the couch downstairs, with a bassinet next to me.  Our bed is tall, so getting up and down was difficult for me for several weeks.  You’re already going to be so tired, so try to do simple things to make getting up and down easier for you.

Get help. If you have family nearby that can help you with older children or preparing meals, ask them to help. Most people want to help but just don’t want to intrude, so ask! We were very blessed to have my mother and father in law here with us to entertain our toddlers. They would take them to the park, or out to lunch, so I could get some quiet time every day.

Enjoy your baby. You’re a great mom, despite how you deliver! I had a picture of how my first delivery would go, and when I ended up having a C-Section, I felt like a huge failure.

I have 3 healthy babies, and that’s what is important.  I even enjoyed my planned C-section this time around.  Much more relaxing when you know what to expect!

I hope these tips will help someone that will be going through a C-section or just had one.  Just remember that this is major abdominal surgery, and you get no time off from being a mom. Be easy on yourself and get any and all help that you can in those first few weeks.  You are strong mama!

C-Section Recovery Tips
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Did you have a C-section?  Did you have any mom guilt?  What were your must haves?  Leave your best c-section recovery tips in the comments below!

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***This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you decide to purchase something through one of my links.  Thank you for supporting this little blog of mine!  Full disclosure here.

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  1. I myself have had 3 c-sections. The first one was an emergency, the second was a last 2 month of pregnancy scenario and my third was planned. I was so upset because I wanted to experience a natural birth. It took me a long time to get over the fact that I didn’t. I was so nervous for all of them! I wish I could have been calm enough to do my hair and makeup lol… then I would probably have more pictures lol

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    Lol! It’s definitely a hard thing to get over. I still wonder what i might be missing out on!

  3. Had a section with my first and while I don’t have Mom guilt I was and still am pissed about the scenario because of the drs. And people justifying it because baby was alive. So nothing else mattered. I hit magic 42 (per them) but baby just needed a little extra time. (Ended up not being quite 40 weeks yet) I had a horrible recovery and the pain lasted for 3.5 yrs until I had my second ?. Biggest recommendation REST rest and more rest. Even if it seems like you’re not doing anything. (Baby is a lot right ) That time afterwards is so critical to healing.

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    Ugh! I’m sorry you had such a bad experience! Yeah I have the worst time trying to rest! I feel like I need to be up and doing things around the house right away but rest is SOOOOO important!

  5. You go girl!! I also had an unplanned c-section. Having a natural birth is something I have always wanted. I guess I felt it would make me feel accomplished. But everyone knows when you make plans, God laughs. We had a scary situation during delivery and weren’t making progress delivery vaginally. At that point, I just wanted a safe baby and giving the go ahead for the c-section was a “no-brainer.” The stress of the situation and the amount of fear I felt makes me never want to be in that situation again. Even though I still long for a vaginally delivery, I do not want to relive that scenario and if we are blessed with another baby I will have a planned c-section. I too was upset about having a c-section but was more grateful my baby was safe. I think that helped with coming to terms with my delivery. After all every mom just wants a healthy baby.

    I bought a postpartum wrap off Amazon and had brought it with me. My nurses were stoked I had one. Life changing!! Best decision ever! The additional support helped my recovery a lot. I also feel it shortened my recovery time.

    I’m glad you shared your story. At the end of the day, giving birth (no matter how) is a miracle and women should never have to feel it is anything less!!

  6. It’s so hard not to beat yourself up about it. I’ve had a cesarean as well due to a breech baby. Having had a vaginal birth before, I was very disappointed since I knew what I was missing. I over-compensated and dove straight into attachment parenting. I regret that.

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    Thanks for sharing your story too! Yes, healthy baby is the goal!! You are so right!

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  9. Yes to all of this! I had 2 c-sections (the first an emergency c-section and the 2nd for breech). It is so important to appreciate the work our bodies have done and be grateful for that. It is not easy and moms need more positivity. Thank you for this beautiful piece and for sharing your story with us!

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    Yes I totally agree! It’s so great to get to hear everyone’s stories! I love that about blogging!

  11. Great article!!! I definitely struggled with guilt and sooo many emotions following my csections, but finally worked through it, knowing I did the best thing for my babies… Must haves — agree with the girdle and nursing pillow!!! Also, GOTTA have stool softeners, for the lovely side effect of pain meds! Lol

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  13. Your blog is beautiful.

    I suffered from a lot of mom guilt after my c-section, and still do I think! I tried so hard to deliver naturally (you of course remember this, Shannon! ?). I imagined the perfect delivery, and I pushed for 4 hours. Eventually, I had to have a c-section because my son’s head is giant. ? And sometimes I still feel bad about it. I feel like I should have done better or kept trying.

    But you’re right. There’s nothing wrong with having a c-section. It hasn’t made me less of a mother.

    Thank you for the beautiful blog!

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hi! I'm shannon

I’m a wife, mom of three, doctor, and blogger! In 2018, I decided to turn my mom blog, into a personal finance blog so others could follow along on our journey to pay off over HALF a MILLION dollars in student loan and practice start up debt. I hope you enjoy following along, and maybe even find some inspiration along the way.