C-Section Recovery: 9 Tips to Help You Heal Faster


woman childbirth

Today, about one in three births occur via C-section -- and as any mom who's had one will tell you, surgery is no cakewalk to recover from ... especially when you have a baby to care for. Only time can heal this wound to a certain extent, but luckily for new mothers, there are ways to speed things along. 

And while luckily there are ways you can speed things along, here are some tips that will help you heal faster -- or at least more comfortably -- from a cesarean birth:

1. Don't sit like a lump in bed. There was time when doctors told cesarean patients to stay in bed and move as little as possible. Well, times have changed. "Women should no longer be encouraged to be in bed a lot," says Peter Ahlering, MD, an OB/GYN in Chesterfield, Missouri and director of the Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine. "Inactivity is not a good thing, as it may predispose you to getting blood clots in the legs or lungs, which are serious issues. So a woman should try to resume activity in a graduated fashion as soon as possible."

2. That said, avoid major activity for a few weeks. This is not the time to resume running 5 miles every morning or lift anything heavier than your baby. The more you push yourself, the greater the odds that your recovery could drag on for even longer than you'd like. "A woman needs to avoid any strenuous activity for a few weeks in order to allow sufficient time to heal," says Jenny Jaque, MD, an OB/GYN at Health Goes Female. "She should also not place anything in their vaginas or have sex for that same period of time to avoid getting an infection."

3. Adjust the way you sit up. "Adapting movement patterns is my top priority when working with women during C-section recovery," says Arianna Taboada, a maternal health specialist. "For example, instead of sitting straight up in bed, right after surgery women should roll onto their side and use their arm strength to push themselves up to a sitting position. This is going to keep the incision area and any muscles that were cut during surgery safe and prevent injury."

4. Keep the scar clean and dry. "After the incision has had a day to heal, keep the area clean with simple soap and water," says Dr. Ahlering. And rather than slathering the area in bandages, try to expose the area to air to keep it dry; this will reduce the odds of infection. 

5. Eat high-fiber foods. Straining during bowel movements is a particularly bad idea right about now, since this puts pressure on the incision sight. So, make sure to stock up on high-fiber foods. Meanwhile, foods high in protein and plenty of water will help with tissue healing, suggests Dr. Jaque.

6. Try some turmeric. This herbal supplement can help heal the incision faster, says Taboada. That's because it contains a yellow pigment called curcumins, which have been shown in studies to reduce inflammation. Studies even show that turmeric can speed recovery from surgery.

7. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. If the area near the incision feels inflamed, an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce the swelling. Some foods to consider include dark leafy greens, whole grains, fatty fish like salmon, and nuts. And since sugar and saturated fat can spur inflammation, avoid them, as well as onion, garlic, and eggs.

More from CafeMom: A Love Letter to C-Section Moms (That Everyone Should Read)

8. Wear compression underwear to ease discomfort. Sorry, wearing compression underwear or abdominal binders won't speedyour recovery. "But they do provide more support and stability around the abdomen where the incision is, allowing for more mobility and less pain," points out Dr. Jaque. So if you're uncomfortable or walking like an old lady, try a pair to see if it helps on that front.

9. "Compress" the area yourself. In lieu of compression underwear, try pressing a pillow on your belly. "Using a pillow for support may help with mobility in the same manner as an abdominal binder.

c-section recovery tips