Did you know that 1 out of 3 babies are delivered via caesarean section? The caesarean section, also known as a C-section, was once considered a dangerous procedure that was only used as a last resort. Thanks to modern medical advancements, it’s become more common and helps many mothers deliver their babies safely.
Despite the growing popularity of C-sections, many moms who have one still don’t know exactly what to expect during their postpartum recovery. To help bridge this gap in knowledge, we’ve created a C-section recovery timeline so you have a better idea of what to expect during those first six weeks post-surgery, as well as how to prepare. Consider this your official Belly Bandit guide to C-section recovery week by week!
C-Section Recovery Timeline: Week By Week
The first week after your C-section will be the most difficult. Immediately following your surgery, you’ll be closely monitored for several hours in a postoperative area, where your doctor will make sure all of your vital signs are stable and at healthy levels. Once you get the all-clear, you'll move to the postpartum recovery unit, where you can expect to stay for three to five days. The good news is, you’ll be able to hold and nurse your baby right away!
During those extra days in the hospital, you’ll stay on a liquid diet until your doctor clears you to eat solid foods. Major abdominal surgery often causes your bowels to stop working as smoothly as they used to and it may take a few days for things to return to normal. Gas-X is great for easing gas pain and bloating, and you may consider using a stool softener to help get things moving again. (Be sure to ask your doctor about this!)
You’ll also be encouraged to get out of bed and move. This isn’t necessarily comfortable, and in fact, it may seem impossible at first. But even just standing and flexing the muscles in your legs and feet can help encourage better blood flow and prevent blood clots from forming.
At the end of your hospital stay, your doctor will give you specific instructions for how to best care for your incision area and also detail what activity restrictions you should follow. In general, you'll be advised not to lift anything heavier than your baby, submerge yourself in water, use tampons, or have sex for six weeks.
During this first week, you’ll want to wear underwear that is comfortable and doesn’t put pressure on your incision area. Belly Bandit C-Section Recovery Briefs are specially designed to aid in C-section recovery. With light compression to encourage better blood flow, moisture-wicking material to keep your incision dry, and silver-infused fibers to help reduce odor, these are the perfect briefs to help you get through week one.
Even though you didn’t have a vaginal birth, you’ll still have vaginal discharge, which is called lochia. A combination of extra blood, mucous, and tissue from your uterus, this is something all moms experience post-delivery. It usually lasts for about four to six weeks, starting heavy and then gradually tapering off. Make sure you're prepared to manage this postpartum bleeding! You may consider trying some our leakproof postpartum underwear, which is designed to absorb liquid and help you feel more secure and comfortable throughout your day.
The second week on the C-section recovery timeline is much easier than week one. While you’ll still have soreness around your incision site and likely still be experiencing some cramping or gas pain, you’ll be feeling significantly better overall. Most pain can be managed with ibuprofen and you’ll have a good routine established for getting in regular movement each day.
During this week, you’ll still need some extra support around your midsection whenever you sneeze, laugh, or cough. An easy way to get this is by wearing a belly wrap or postpartum support band. Belly Bandit offers several different belly wraps that are great for C-section recovery:
Belly Bandit Postpartum Luxe Belly Wrap
Ideal for moms with average-height to tall frames who want the extra support of a belly wrap and the smoothing effects of shapewear.
Belly Bandit B.F.F. Belly Wrap
Best for petite moms and those with shorter waists, the B.F.F. offers a more customized fit than our Original Belly Wrap.
Belly Bandit Viscose from Bamboo Belly Wrap
An updated take on our Original Belly Wrap and the softest wrap we offer, this is the best solution for moms with sensitive skin or particularly sore incision sites.
Week 2 is also when you’ll see your doctor for a postpartum check-up. They will examine your incision and check for any signs of infection. This is a great time to bring up any lingering questions or concerns you may have about your healing progress.
The third week marks the official halfway point to getting back to your normal routine, and you should be feeling the difference! You’ll still want to take things easy, but by this point, you'll be able to add more of your favorite activities back into your daily routine without causing increased pain. This is also a great time to start doing pelvic floor exercises regularly.
Now that your incision area is less sensitive, you may also be ready to exchange your briefs for a pair of Belly Bandit C-Section & Postpartum Recovery Undies or Belly Bandit C-Section Recovery Shorts. Both of these options offer higher compression levels and support to keep your progress moving in the right direction.
Week 4 will bring increased energy and more healing. For some women, postpartum bleeding has become lighter or disappeared altogether by now. You’ll find yourself moving more easily and comfortably throughout the day as your stamina improves. But remember: Pay close attention to your body and stop if anything hurts. The last thing you want to do is push yourself too far, too fast and wind up delaying your overall healing process.
These are definitely the best two weeks on the C-section recovery week by week breakdown! By the end of week six, or perhaps even a bit earlier, your incision site will be fully healed. Your uterus will be more or less back to its normal size so you're looking and feeling more like your pre-pregnancy self, and your doctor will likely clear you to resume all normal activity.
If things don’t go as planned, or your six-week journey doesn’t completely line up with what's outlined here, remember not to get discouraged. Everyone’s recovery is different! So many different factors play into how you'll feel and what you'll feel up to doing. Just remember that the most important thing is to care for yourself and your new baby.
How Belly Bandit Can Help with Post C-Section Recovery
The first six weeks of postpartum recovery are all about taking the time you need to rest and make sure your incision is completely healed. However, your postpartum journey doesn’t end there.
Even though your incision is closed, you’ll still want to properly care for your scar, as well as the other areas of your body that may still be struggling to recover from pregnancy and a major surgery.
You can help reduce the size of your scar and encourage it to fade more quickly by using skin defense patches. These breathable silicone patches are a great way to provide targeted moisture and hydrate your skin to encourage healing. You can also use these patches to help treat stretch marks and any lingering dry, itchy patches of skin.You can continue supporting your body as it works to repair and restore damaged muscles and tissues by continuing to wear compression clothing. We recommend our Mother Tucker® Postpartum Compression Support Leggings and Mother Tucker® Biker Shorts as supportive and stylish options.
Having a C-section is a big event in your life. A little bit of preparation, whether you're planning for a C-section or it comes as a surprise, can help ease the discomfort you'll experience post-surgery. Here at Belly Bandit, we consider ourselves experts on products for postpartum recovery, and we’re here to support you!