Whether it is planned or an emergency procedure, a C-section delivery is a major abdominal surgery that requires time and deliberate postpartum care. More and more women (over 30% of births in 2017) are experiencing postpartum life while recovering from the challenges of a surgical procedure (1). Unfortunately, many mothers leave the hospital with little guidance on how to properly care for your bodies beyond caring for the incision site. On top of that, there’s a brand new baby to take care of! Healing your postpartum body should be equally as important as ensuring that your baby is thriving.
There are 3 major differences between vaginal and c-section birth recovery:
The use of antibiotics: Women who have had c-sections are prescribed antibiotics to prevent infections. While they help to prevent infections, these antibiotics deplete the gut’s beneficial flora. Various gastrointestinal issues like gas/bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can result. Antibiotic use has also been linked to the disruption of the development of the baby’s gut flora, as well as oral thrush, infections, and immune system dysregulation (2,3,4).
Healing from an abdominal wound: a c-section incision cuts through multiple layers of skin, muscles, and organs. The amount of time it takes to heal and recover from this wound is much longer than a vaginal delivery and can cause pain and lasting damage to the uterus and the surrounding tissues.
Inflammation: Swelling in the legs is especially common following a c-section. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, coupled with inactivity and IV fluids from the procedure can result in fluid retention. Swelling can also be a symptom of deep vein thrombosis, a serious medical condition that c-section patients are at higher risk for, in which a blood clot forms in a leg vein.
Common issues following a C-section surgery are pain, constipation, soreness, bleeding. In addition to proper rest, one of the best ways to help you heal from your C-section is to nourish your body.
Take these following tips to help your body heal from a C-section birth so that you can fully care for your new bundle. They will help you heal from the inside out.
Drink plenty of fluids -– Hydrating your body is extremely important for recovery since it helps to replenish your body’s water and flush out medications, aids in constipation, and supports breastfeeding. Consuming soups, smoothies, and water is an excellent way to increase your fluid intake.
Eat lots of fiber -– Constipation and hemorrhoids are common symptoms following birth. It’s no surprise, considering your entire gastrointestinal tract was moved during pregnancy and birth! To help things move along, eat a diet rich in fiber in the form of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Avocados, jicamas, and berries are very nutritious and high in fiber.
Take probiotics -– During and following a c-section, you are often given antibiotics to prevent infection, which can severely deplete your intestine’s good microbiota and can find its way into your breast milk (4). Taking probiotics can help restore a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut and help with gastrointestinal function in yourself and your baby. Mother Nutrient offers a Women's Probiotic that is a multi-strain 40 billion CFU probiotic that helps to boost digestive function and immunity. We also offer an Infant Probiotic to help baby’s gut bacteria thrive.
Up your protein intake -– Protein keeps your energy up while keeping you feeling full longer. This is important as your body is burning extra calories breastfeeding. Protein-rich foods contain amino acids, which are the building blocks of tissues and muscles. Increasing your protein intake can help with scars and aid in healing from the surgical trauma of a c-section
Take supplements -– It can be challenging in the early days to prepare nutrient-dense home-cooked meals multiple times a day. Taking the right supplements can support your diet and fill in any gaps in your nutrition.
a. Postnatal - A complete supplement to provide your body with the essential nutrients your postpartum body needs. The hectic days of taking care of a newborn baby results in eating coming down in the list of priorities.
Taking a multivitamin supplement like our Prenatal, Postnatal & Nursing Support will ensure mom gets all the needed nutrients even when she does not eat well.
b. Zinc, magnesium - These nutrients help your wound and muscles heal. Magnesium also aids in resolving constipation, a common postpartum issue (4).
c. Vitamin A, C, and E - These vitamins aid in wound and tissue repair, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation.
d. Collagen - This structural protein helps to repair the gut and aids in tissue, ligament, and skin regeneration.
It can take at least 6 weeks for your body to recover from the effects of surgery. While it is important to walk around from time to time to promote circulation and gastrointestinal movements, limit heavy lifting and any activities that would strain the abdominal area.
If you see any of these signs, seek help from your doctor right away.
Severe pain that does not respond to pain relief
Pain with urination
Heavy vaginal bleeding past a week after discharge
Redness, swelling, or discharge at the incision site
Headache along with nausea or vomiting
It can be overwhelming to take care of yourself in addition to your baby (and your other children) after delivery, especially when it comes to managing your nutrition. Mother Nutrient can help!
Join our list for product deals, new product notifications, and newsletters! When you sign up, you will receive a free copy of my "Top 10 Postnatal Nutrition Tips."
We also offer a free wellness quiz that will create a customized nutrition report complete with diet, lifestyle, and supplementation recommendations and a customized nutrition report based on your results.
What were the best things that helped you recover from a C-section? Tell us in the comment section below! If you know someone who had a C-section, share this post by clicking next to the title.
Content found on this website is not considered medical advice. Please consult with a physician before making any medical or lifestyle changes.
1. Births - Methods of Delivery [Internet]. Cdc.gov. 2018. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/delivery.htm
2.Tanaka et al. Influence of antibiotic exposure in the early postnatal period on the development of intestinal microbiota. FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology. 2009;56:80-87.
3. Biasucci G, et al. Mode of delivery affects the bacterial community in the newborn gut. Early Human Development. 2010;86:13-15.
4. Nichols L. Real food for pregnancy: The science and wisdom of optimal prenatal nutrition. Lily Nichols; 2018.