The dos and don’ts of recovering from caesarean section

The rate of childbirth through a c-section surgery is constantly on the rise. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, almost 30% of selected women giving birth for the first time had a caesarean section in 2017. While researchers and medical professionals debate about the effects of this surgery on women’s health, many women are already going through it.

If you or any of your loved ones have recently given birth by a c-section surgery too, you might want to know about the recovery that follows. The first thing you must know is that you are not alone in this. A c-section is major abdominal surgery, and it is not uncommon to experience pain, soreness, and be exposed to all of the risks associated with surgery.

It might become overwhelming at times, given you must also nurse the newborn along with looking after yourself post-surgery. But when done right, it is not as scary as it may seem. This article will explore some healthy practices that can help you have a comfortable and speedy recovery after c-section.

Physical activity after a caesarean section:

As c-section is major surgery, your body will need time to heal. Your doctor would generally advise maximum bed rest immediately following the surgery. Until you recover, strenuous physical activities must be avoided. Following guidelines might help you have a speedy c-section recovery under normal circumstances:


  • Stay in bed or on the couch for as long as possible during the first week.
  • Hold a pillow over your wound when coughing or laughing.
  • Start walking once the doctor says you can.
  • Rest when you are tired.
  • Start with sitting for short durations and spending time with your family.
  • Ask your doctor if you can wear postpartum leggings to help ease the pain and support pelvic floor musculature and lower back as well as assist with the c-section incision healing.


  • Lift things heavier than your baby.
  • Bounce back to doing household chores; there will be plenty of time to it later anyway.
  • Participate in a rigorous activity or exercise your core muscles until the doctor has given you the green signal.
  • Become sexually active until your doctor says you can.
  • Climb stairs repeatedly.

Food habits after a c-section

Women often feel famished most of the time after a vaginal delivery and go on consuming large meals. But things are slightly different for women during caesarean recovery. You must be careful with what and how much you eat. Follow the diet plan provided by your doctor/dietician. When recovering from a c-section, you must prioritise nutrition over anything else. It is very important for both you and your baby. Following tips can be useful for dietary habits:


  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Drink enough water and other fluids.
  • Consume fiber supplements daily to avoid constipation.
  • Include light, nourishing foods in your diet such as soup, yogurt, fruits, etc.


  • Consume heavy, rich, or fatty foods that produce gas.
  • Crash diet or focus on losing the baby weight before you heal.
  • Skip meals.
  • Dehydrate yourself under any circumstances.

Caring for the incision

This can be the trickiest part of a caesarean recovery routine. It would be best if you were as careful as possible when caring for the incision. Fortunately, your doctor will provide you with all the guidelines on how to care for the incision. Caring for the incision should include the following:


  • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • Use warm water to clean the incision area per the instructions provided by you doctor.
  • If you have tape strips on your incision, let them fall off on their own. It can generally take about a week.


  • Use cleansing products that can impede healing.
  • Scrub on or near the incision.

Bathing after a c-section:

Being in the water for too long can be harmful to your wound. Water can invite all the bacteria causing infections that we do not want at this time. Exposing your wound to water before it has healed enough is a bad idea. Your doctor will guide you about when you can start showering or having a bath after recovering from a c-section surgery. The usual guidelines include:


  • Take quick showers and pat yourself dry.
  • Take a short warm bath after your incision site has healed.


  • Take baths until the incision has healed or the postpartum bleeding has stopped.
  • Soak in hot tubs or public pools.

When do you need to ask for help?

All the above are the general c-section recovery guidelines. Things may differ from individual to individual. Remember also to pay attention to your mental health during this time.

However, you need to ask for your doctor’s help immediately if you find yourself facing any of the following:

  • A fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Degrees Celsius)
  • Severe or prolonged headache
  • Sudden intense pain in your belly or the incision site
  • Red streaks on your legs
  • Bright red and heavy bleeding that soaks up more than one pad every 2 hours (or less)
  • Feelings of panic or depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the vagina
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vaginal clots that are larger than the size of a golf ball
  • If you see an opening in your incision
  • Signs of infection including pus, redness, swelling, pain, swollen lymph nodes

Final insights:

Whether natural or caesarean birth, a speedy recovery is always beneficial for both mother and baby. Allowing your body to heal is as essential as taking care of your newborn. Do not shy away from asking for help to do daily chores. Remember, proper rest can go a long way in helping you recover speedily.

During caesarean recovery, you may ask your doctor about hygiene products and compression garments that can ease up the process for you. Do not suffer alone and consult your doctor when things feel overwhelming. The health and wellbeing of your baby greatly depend on you. Happy recovery!

Sinead O'Donovan
Sinead O'Donovan
Sinead helps women in their health and well-being journey. Sinead works with SRC Health to provide continuous support and relief of pain during pregnancy and faster C-section recovery in 4th trimester. Her mission is to support women through all stages of life.
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