"I think the two biggest things that are important about cesarean section surgery and recovery are: firstly, have a support person for your partner in case things take that last minute scary unpredictable turn. You’ll have to stay strong, you have no choice. But your partner will need a little extra support during this time (not surprisingly since it’s major sometimes emergency surgery). Secondly I’d also urge women to do some self help work once things calm down- maybe a few weeks post birth- get some form of healing work for yourself. Whether you realize it or not, surgery is traumatic and the nature of birth suggests to women that although difficult, birth will be beautiful. This isn’t exactly the case once you’ve had a c-section and the resulting disappointment can be very physically and mentally traumatic. In my case, I needed some energy therapy and craniosacral work and so did my baby. But it was also helpful to talk through the situation with friends as well."

-Stephanie Priore

"I had already had one really difficult vaginal birth where I was ripped open. Recovery from that took a long time. I thought the C-section was a lot easier to recover from. It was a nice clean incision in the lower abdomen that healed well. It hurt a little for a while, but at least I didn't feel like my insides were going to drop out on the floor from between my legs. Plus, this time I brought home a baby which was the main thing. To me, it didn't matter how she came into the world, what mattered was that I walked out of the hospital with a live baby in hand.

As for recovery I only discovered what is true for any new mother. Rest, rest, rest, whenever you can. Taking care of a baby is a 24 hour a day job! The C-sections were so much better than the vaginal birth experience I had. I feel like I recovered so much quicker.
My children are 26 and 28 years old now. It was a long time ago. I feel like I am fully recovered. I felt fully recovered pretty early on. The only little reminder I have is when I stand at the kitchen sink to wash dishes. I guess I tend to lean into the counter a little. The edge of the counter top comes right to where my C-section incision is. It's not what I would call a pain or even a discomfort, it's just a strange little awareness that it's the same place where my c-section scar is."

-Cindy Krauss

"Physically, I have to say that recovering from the c-section was a piece of cake, much easier than getting over the exhausting multi-day induction I’d had with my first. (Now pitocin, that's exhausting!)

I was up and walking (a little) the next day. My main complaint was that the hospital pushed opioid pain killers, which I took once but really didn’t need. I was fine with just Ibuprofen and Tylenol, and took those for less than a week. About 5 or 6 days after the birth I was back in Boston, schlepping my breast pump around on buses and generally feeling very tired.

In short, my experience was that having a C-section – without labor first – was no big deal, but having a baby in the NICU sucked."

-Amelia Smith

"Healing of the C-section was doing well. Though my body rejected the dissolve-able stitches and started to push them out. Each day my husband had to cut a little piece off. He wanted to pull them out but I wanted to wait and show the midwife at her next scheduled home visit (in Germany they support you for up to 8 weeks after the birth with home visits). She looked at it and explained she had never seen or even heard of such a thing happening. A couple days later my husband had decided he had had enough of cutting it every day and decided to pull, and yes against my initial wishes, but more-so against my knowledge. It was still more than 3 inches long! But all was well, my body could really heal now. My baby was doing well, I was healing and we were overjoyed and blessed with a beautiful baby girl."

-Karen Hiemer

"I had to take milder pain medications due to my previous reaction, and had to take it a little more often. That helped me recover physically. Also helpful were the restrictions I was placed under, like not lifting anything heavier than 1 of my babies until told that I could. That gave me time to start healing without straining myself too much. Having the babies' grandparents around for the 1st week, and my husband home from work an extra week after that was very helpful too. I didn't really know exactly what to expect as far as recovery goes. I knew what the procedure was, and that cutting through that much "stuff" was a big deal and would require lots of healing. I guess the biggest help to me, and what I would recommend others do too, was following the directions of my doctors. They know what they're talking about, and while not always pleasant, it wasn't a bad experience for me. I feel like I was pretty well-informed as far as what I needed to do afterwards. I would advise new c-section mothers to not only trust their doctors, but also listen to and trust their own bodies.

One of my favorite helpful things were all the pairs of mesh undies I was able to get from the hospital. They were amazing to wear for pretty much the first 6 weeks or so. They were comfortable, and allowed for the room needed to always wear a giant menstrual pad. I was quite surprised at just how long the post-birth bleeding lasted. Having a Boppy nursing pillow was pretty key for feedings since I had two newborns and wasn't technically allowed to lift more than one. Being diligent about taking my pain meds (when I was awake at least) when I needed them was important, but so was giving them some time to wear off as time went on so I could really feel if I needed them as much. Another important thing was keeping on top of caring for my incision. The last thing a new mother needs or wants is any complications from the healing of that."

-Amber Hunt

"I had a c-section 35 years ago but it wasn't too bad. A week and half later I wrapped my belly in the supportive elastic and started jogging. Probably not the best idea for healing scar tissue but I got away with it. I was fitness obsessed in those days. I find Fascia Blaster tools to be really helpful for breaking up fascia adhesions everywhere on the body, especially around scar tissue."

-Adrianne Ryan

"8 years after (my first C-section) birth, I delivered another baby via c-section. Nico also had a congenital defect, but it’s completely unrelated to his sisters. I had a really hard time recovering from the surgery this time. I had a TON of scar tissue from Lyla, so opening that back up again was awful. It took me a full 12 weeks to recover fully. It’s amazing what age can truly do to your body!
Things I wish I had known about birth in general was when you plan, god laughs. I thought my second section would be just like the first. It was not.
I thought my body would bounce right back after birth, it never did. I eventually came to know and love my new body (post Lyla) and I’m working on it now post Nico.
I wish someone had told me that you bleed for months on end afterward (especially after a c section!) and adult diapers are your new best friend.
I wish someone would have told me about how the scar feels forever afterward. It’s numb and hard/weird to touch.
I wish someone would have told me to take every single hospital supply I could get my hands on for recovery."

-Raleigh Russel

"Recovery from C-section (as I have had to do this twice) is all about not overdoing. I did not realize after the first one how important it is to just lay still for at least two weeks after. Scar tissue develops very easily in your uterus. I was not expecting it to be so hard to recover the first time around especially with a new baby. ASK FOR HELP….. there is no shame in asking for help! Sleeping is the great healer. You must sleep after (and with a new baby that is not easy) so again, ASK FOR HELP.

My oldest daughter had to have an emergency C-section with her second baby because he had 3 knots in his cord and it was hard to see her go through that but it didn't seem to phase her, she was a trooper. I was pretty depressed after my own C-Section with her so I was worried about that. Our friend dried her placenta and turned it into powder and made her pills to swallow everyday and that helped sooooo much I highly recommended that."

-Ruby Schaefer

"In the first three days I wasn’t able to get out of bed because the wound had to heal. In my experience the scar took a long time to heal. It was difficult for me to carry Oscar around for longer periods for the next two months after having given birth. The scar was sensitive to touch even for several years.

After having been released from hospital I did not realize how much I had suffered psychologically from the intervention. I didn’t look for any therapy to deal with the traumatic experience straight away. Today (Oscar is 9 years old), I practice a body mind approach which helps me create healing through experience on cellular level. Even when I wrote this text, I realized that I still hadn’t found peace inside me. I feel enormous gratitude to be able to express myself here to heal the inner wound."

-Juliane Wagner

"Movement is key within the first day, to help your recovery and to make sure the blood is flowing in your legs. It was weird to stand and notice that I was no longer pregnant. You will still feel small contraction type feelings in your belly for a little while. That was weird to me. Noticing that just 24 hours earlier, Aurora was in my belly and kicking away and now she was laying in her Dad's arms as I relearned how to stand.

After practicing walking and moving and finally going into the bathroom alone, I definitely recommend taking all of the assistance that you can get at first. For me, I am not someone who likes assistance and find it difficult to ask for help. After the c-section, it was easy to ask for. I physically could not do much.

The recovery process was challenging, only because I couldn't do a lot on my own for a while. I was lucky to have my husband home with me for two weeks. Those two weeks allowed me to rest and have assistance doing things throughout the day."

-Emily LaPierre

"It’s been a few days now and our little family of four is settling in nicely at home. Naturally, I had a hard time staying put once home and was up and about too much. Our pediatrician gave me a gentle reminder that I just had major abdominal surgery and to take time to rest. Liam and I are excited to enjoy a day in bed doing just that, resting."

Rhiana Westlund

"The c-section was harder to recover from than I could have imagined. I remember feeling like a turtle, stuck on my back, with my crying son on my chest, completely unable to engage my stomach muscles to turn or sit up. I had to throw something at my sleeping husband for him to come rescue me in the hospital bed. After going home, it was hard to stay off the stairs, no driving, no carrying anything heavier than the baby... I felt helpless, at the same time, my body was exhausted and I felt maxed out. Two years later, the area of my incision still felt sore whenever I would sneeze."

-Kathryn Feeks Vieira

"I had planned to be recovering from a natural birth at home in my own bed with my baby by my side. Instead I was recovering from major abdominal surgery in a hospital bed that was eleven floors above my baby’s room in the NICU. I never anticipated the kind of round the clock pain and exhaustion of a C-section. The first night after surgery I don’t think I slept at all. There were shooting pains in my neck and shoulder from being strapped down while under anesthesia. I was terribly thirsty but my neck was so seized up with pain that it hurt just to tilt my head back or swallow. I couldn’t laugh or cough without feeling like I was being violently sliced in half at the incision.

The process of getting out of bed on the first day was incredibly painful. I don’t know how I would have gotten myself in and out of bed without being able to slowly raise my torso to a sitting position first. I found it hard to accept my new limitations but the pain was a constant reminder that I was not myself. There was a strange empty flapping feeling to my belly, like a bowl full of jelly being tossed around with every movement. I was surprised by how gross my post-birth body felt. I moved like a very old woman, hunched, slow, shuffling, trying to conserve energy and limit any jolts or jostles. I would shuffle to the bathroom and sit over the commode waiting to poop, and fearing to poop. The nurses wanted to see whatever came out of me for the first 48 hours so I wasn’t permitted to flush. It was mortifying and made me feel like a very unwell person, like a patient suffering from some illness instead of a new mother celebrating her baby.

Five days post surgery I was discharged from the hospital and we went to stay at my in-law’s home half an hour away. I was now able to walk slowly but fairly easily and squat to pick things up off the ground. Bending over at the waist was completely out of the question for more than a month. Getting in and out of bed was still a challenge but it was getting easier every time. I was starting to be able to find comfortable positions to sleep in and it was getting easier to laugh and sneeze without pain. Unfortunately our bedroom at my in-laws was on the third floor and required going up and down 36 steps twice a day every day. Steps were really hard, I felt out of breath and in pain every time I went up or down. For the first week my husband pushed me everywhere in a wheelchair and wouldn’t let me walk more than was absolutely necessary. Despite using the wheelchair I definitely overdid it physically in the first few weeks after my surgery. The bleeding was much heavier and lasted a lot longer than it might have if I had been discharged back to my home and had my baby beside me in bed instead of climbing steps, riding elevators and commuting by car too and from her hospital room for six weeks. Luckily my body managed to recover despite my over-exertions.

The incision itself healed just fine although for the first 4 months it was completely numb to the touch the area above the scar but gradually that numbness faded away and normal sensation returned. For the first year I would occasionally get little pinching pains if my pants were too tight or rubbed against the scar the wrong way. I rubbed coconut and olive oil into the scar as often as I remembered to and I think that really helped to soften and sooth the scar tissue. Now two years later my scar doesn’t bother me at all, it’s a thin pale line above my pubic hair that’s hardly even noticeable unless you know where to look for it."

-Katrina Nevin