Recovering from a Cesarean Birth


Recovery is just as important as the event itself and when we talk about recovery we mean the whole woman, not just the physical body. Whether or not a cesarean birth is a planned part of your birth story there are some important and helpful things to know for the recovery period including your mental and emotional health too. 


  • You've had major abdominal surgery- ab muscles are pulled apart & incisions made into your uterus.
  • You've had an epidural that can come with its own set of side effects. Things like headaches and nausea. If spinal fluid is leaking, you may require a blood patch.
  • Overall, your inside may feel a little odd as your organs move back into their pre-baby places. Back pain, body aches, and fatigue are all normal. 
  • You will have pain at the incision site. Moving, turning, twisting, sitting up, going to the bathroom, walking, etc will be more difficult and uncomfortable.


  • Take your pain meds! If you're in pain and not resting well, you're likely to have a longer recovery. Take the pain meds so that you can rest and heal! 
  • Your doctor can prescribe a breastfeeding-friendly pain med. Pay attention to how baby reacts to all meds you are taking.
  • You WILL need more AND longer support following cesarean birth compared to vaginal birth. And that's ok! (Remember, you just had major surgery.) 
  • Family, friends, postpartum doulas, your spouse...all can provide support in the following areas: cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, helping with breastfeeding positions, someone to hold the baby while you eat, someone to bring you food, etc.
  • Perineal sprays, sitz baths, and caring for your incision will help you feel better. Let warm, soapy water run over your incision while showering, and then follow up with either an antibiotic ointment, doTERRA CorrectX, or essential oils like Frankincense, Helichrysum, Lavender, and Blue Tansy.
  • Read all of the information they gave you at the hospital AFTER you are home AGAIN- it typically includes checklists & reminders of what to do during your next 6 weeks of recovery. It will give you info on how to take care of your incision, yourself, your body, your baby, what appointments to schedule for you & baby, and where to get help if needed. It should also include information and resources for mental and emotional well-being during the postpartum period.


 Chances are if you follow our podcast and had a cesarean birth it was likely not planned, so the #1 thing we want to stress to you here is that you did not fail! YOU did nothing wrong. YOU are an excellent mother who did everything in your power to bring your baby earthside in the safest possible way. We are proud of you!

Even when a cesarean birth is totally necessary & the best/safest thing for you and baby, you will have some emotional baggage to unpack. With that being said, the first thing we want you to focus on is SLEEP. 

...Before you dive into the birth story you are playing and replaying in your head

...Before you tell yourself ANY negative thing at all about yourself or the experience

...Before you talk to someone that would be in any way unsupportive

...This usually means after you get home since sleeping in the hospital doesn't usually happen since nurses wake you up alllll through the night. It's just not conducive to sleep. The tricky part of all of this is that your hospital stay is longer (typically 3 days).

On top of all the emotions and thoughts you will be having from the experience, your milk will be coming in (which may be delayed due to pain medication) which triggers a massive drop in hormones like oxytocin. This drop can make for a rough time emotionally for every mama postpartum.

This is often followed by 2 weeks of baby blues which can continue on (after the 2 weeks) as postpartum depression or other mood disorders.

If you are a mom who deals with mood disorders already, continue taking or begin taking again the necessary medications. Work with your provider to choose ones that are safe for a breastfeeding baby if this is how you are choosing to feed your baby.

Unfortunately, postpartum care for women is lacking. Providers don’t see cesarean moms until a 2-3 week postpartum incision check which is far too long for a mother that has been suffering. We see the same problem for women with vaginal births- if working with an OB they are not seen until their 6-week postpartum visit which is why we stress within the birth course to have the husband very aware of the signs and symptoms of postpartum mood disorders.

Here are some simple ways to process your cesarean experience:

  • Share your story with someone you love and trust
  • Talk to other women who have been there and will understand
  • Reach out to a postpartum counselor. Some offer medication, others offer a more holistic approach, some offer both - do what feels best for you.
  • Use the phone numbers and info provided by the hospital - they typically have hotlines and other resources to use.
  • Journal your feelings and about the experience.
  • Write down positive affirmations about yourself.
  • Know that you are amazing! You were willing to go through surgery and everything that comes with it to bring your baby to earth.

Enjoy the time with your new baby. For some women, this begins the healing process. For others, it may hard to connect with your baby, and that is a sign that it’s time to ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help - just be sure to ask the RIGHT resources! You deserve to receive love, support, and anything else you need as begin this next chapter in your mothering journey.

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