Trying to figure out what you need to buy for your postpartum c-section recovery period before you give birth can be tricky.
As a mom who has experienced both a vaginal delivery (a VBAC, to be exact) and a c-section, I can tell you that while there are some cross-over items that all postpartum mamas need to make sure to have on hand, c-section recovery is a little bit different than recovering from a vaginal childbirth.
With about 1 out of every 3 births in the United States resulting in a c-section, it’s smart to keep this list handy and maybe invest in a few items even if your goal is to have a vaginal birth. In all honesty, you never know what’s going to happen when it comes to childbirth.
If you’re preparing for a scheduled c-section, or just want to be prepared, either way, this is a great list of must-have items specific to a c-section recovery.
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Postpartum Essentials for a C-Section Recovery
1. Maxi Pads or Disposable Underwear
And when I say “maxi pads”, I mean get the biggest ones you can find—with wings. Don’t try to be cute and get something discrete. You will be bleeding what feels like the blood of a thousand periods right after childbirth, whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section.
I used the Always Discreet Boutique disposable underwear, and really liked them.
One of my favorite mama brands Earth Mama Organics (which you’ve probably seen in the prenatal section of Target) makes an amazing healing salve just for moms who have delivered via c-section. There are so few products geared towards us c-section mamas that seeing this one just made my heart filled with glee.
Made from organic oils, this balm helps reduce the appearance of scars (and stretch marks—bonus!) without irritating the skin.
3. Belly Wrap
Don’t skip this item because it seems sort of like a vanity “get your pre-baby body back fast!” type item. When it comes to recovering from a C-Section, having a belly wrap is an absolute MUST.
During the first few weeks after a c-section, if you sneeze, laugh, or just move the wrong way, it can feel like your insides are about to fall out. (They won’t, but it feels that way.) Having a belly wrap helps reduce this feeling by offering some much-needed support.
You can usually request one in the hospital after a c-section, but the one that I received wasn’t very comfortable, and I ended up buying a different one online.
There are tons of different postpartum wraps on Amazon that you can choose from to fit your budget. This one from Moolida is what I ended up going with and loving.
4. Nursing Pillow (Even if you’re not breastfeeding)
Breastfeeding/nursing pillows are wonderful for anyone feeding a newborn—by breast or by bottle—but mamas who delivered via c-section have an added reason to add this item to your list. Using a breastfeeding pillow provides a soft barrier between your incision and your baby.
The Boppy Pillow is one of the most popular nursing pillows (and the one that we used with both of our girls), but there are other options out there like this one from Ergo (the brand that makes my very favorite baby carrier that we used constantly for both of our kids) which features a natural curve to better fit your body and your baby.
5. Nursing Pads (Even if you’re not breastfeeding)
Regardless of whether you decide to breastfeed or not, if you go through a pregnancy and delivery, your body will almost certainly produce some amount of breastmilk.
If you’re breastfeeding, your breasts will be leaking. If you’re trying to dry up your milk supply, your breasts will be leaking. Whether you’re nursing, pumping, going with formula from day 1, or doing a mix of feeding styles—nursing pads are a must.
If you’re going the breastfeeding route, look into stocking up on disposable pads or investing in reusable ones.
If you’re going with formula from the get-go, a small box that will last for about a week should be sufficient.
6. Nursing Tees and Tanks (For breastfeeding moms)
For breastfeeding mamas, comfy nursing clothes make postpartum life so much easier.
Don’t limit yourself to just the basic tank tops that you find at Target (although those are wonderful). There are all kinds of styles of nursing tanks and t-shirts available nowadays, so find something that is comfy and that you love.
7. Organic No More Milk Tea (For formula-only moms)
If you are exclusively formula-feeding your baby and are trying to get your milk to dry up faster, this Organic No More Milk Tea from Earth Mama can help you reduce milk production and help you stop making milk sooner.
Even mamas who start out breastfeeding may want to have this on hand, as all children will be weaned from breastfeeding at some point down the road.
When you get home, you’ll need to make sure that you’re washing your incision well. Using a super soft washcloth is much less likely to irritate the sensitive skin around the cut than a loofa, sponge, or lesser-quality cloth.
These Bamboo Cotton Organic Washcloths are incredibly soft and come in beautiful colors.
9. Water Bottle
Your body will be busy healing itself right after childbirth, so staying hydrated is essential to the c-section recovery period.
This Brita Water Bottle with a build-in filter is great because you can fill up the water bottle with tap water and it will immediately filter while you drink.
10. Peri Bottle
A peri bottle (used to help keep the exterior of your vagina clean during postpartum bleeding by allowing you to wash the area with a gentle stream of warm water in between showering sessions) is usually one of the first things that new moms are introduced to in the hospital or at birthing centers after delivery.
You can also buy one online here if you want to be extra prepared, or set up a washing station in all of the bathrooms in your home to make it easier on yourself.
11. Pain Medications
Your doctor or medical professional will recommend what medications you can take after your c-section. Make sure you take them.
I went almost 30 hours after my cesarian without taking medication because I didn’t want anything else in my body—and it was complete misery and something that I would never, ever consider doing again.
You’ve just had surgery AND you have a new baby who needs you. Don’t try to be a hero, here.
In addition to what you are prescribed, it’s smart to have a milder pain killer on hand at home, as well. For me personally, my doctor gave me the okay to take Advil.
Figure out what is safe for you to be taking FROM A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL (which I’m not) and take it.
12. Stool Softener
Whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section, having your first bowel movement after birth can be a challenge.
Make sure you have some stool softener ready to go at home as a part of your postpartum recovery kit. (And always make sure you run anything past your doctor before taking it.)
When you’re ready to go out into the world after giving birth, having clothing that are comfortable and make you feel your best will do wonders for your general well-being.
While some women may be able to fit back into their pre-baby clothes right away, I certainly didn’t fit into that category for quite some time after delivery.
Postpartum leggings became a staple for me, and recently I discovered my very favorite pair of postpartum leggings: MoveMama Postpartum Leggings. I love these because they were specifically designed to factor in the true needs of postpartum women, including providing great coverage for breastfeeding moms and keeping the elastic high—far away from the c-section incision point.
One of the best things that you can do during a c-section recovery period is WALK. It’s really challenging at first, but it helps speed the recovery along.
Having some comfy walking shoes ready to go for when you’re home from the hospital will eliminate one excuse for not going on a walk.
You may want to consider going half a size up from your normal shoe size, as many women experience swelling after pregnancy—and some have their shoe size increase for good.
15. High-Waisted and/or Mesh Panties
The last thing you want after a c-section is anything coming anywhere close to your incision point. Investing in some high-wasted panties or disposable mesh panties will be a lifesaver. You may be able to take some mesh panties from the hospital after delivery, but if you’d rather plan ahead and have them ready to go at home, you can buy a few pairs online here.
Whatever you do, don’t buy anything super expensive. There’s a good chance that you’ll never want to see these panties again after the postpartum bleeding wraps up.
16. A Treat For Yourself
Whether it’s a bottle of wine (or a new fun glass to drink it out of), a good piece of chocolate, a pair of comfy socks, an aromatherapy candle, or a mug of hot chocolate…make sure you have something waiting at home to treat yourself with.
Regardless of how you gave birth, your birth story, what did or didn’t happen—you deserve something that will lift your spirits. You grew a human, lady. You’ve freakin’ earned it.