Postpartum Recovery Update + Your C Section Healing Tips

postpartum recovery tips nursing bra petite mom

Related posts: My Hospital Bag & Postpartum Must Haves // Breastfeeding Tips // My experience with PPD 

I started writing this shortly after Rio was born, but newborn life took over and here I am months later! With this being my second rodeo, I thought I knew what to expect but the first few weeks of recovery hit me like a truck. With a different pregnancy and labor, the aftermath was a little different too. There was the pain, the hemorrhoids (such a sexy souvenir from birth), swelling and night sweats. The tears from breastfeeding, and the misery of trying to go to the bathroom while also peeing myself from postpartum incontinence. Throw in the typical sleep deprivation and emotions from newborn life… and yet, somehow, 5 months later all of this has faded into a distant memory.

While I’m much more tired with 2 little ones now, I’m less stressed and anxious. I’ve learned to lower expectations, roll with the punches (and spit ups, and blow outs!) and celebrate small victories like getting out the door for a walk. I’ve learned to set expectations with my partner (esp for those late night duties!) and ask for help – the support from our parents has been the biggest gift. I’ve learned that sometimes, ignoring Google and “experts” and nursing my baby to sleep or rocking him asleep for hours is totally okay.

For any mamas in the thick of it right now, I know how hard each day can feel. Remember to give your incredible body some grace and that this is just one season of life. Of course if something does not feel right to you, always trust your gut and talk to your doctor.

Postpartum Recovery & Nursing

As updates to my Hospital / Postpartum Bag and Breastfeeding Tips posts, I wanted to share a couple things that aren’t always talked about but really helped me this time around.

Sore or Damaged Nipples

I nursed my first baby for a fairly smooth 15 months … but different baby, different experience! While breastfeeding is now pain free and something that I treasure, the first 2 weeks I was in tears just anticipating the next nursing session and had to bite down on a towel for the pain while latching.

What helped:

  • Proper latch: It’s normal for nipples that had been living a stress-free life to be in shock when a baby starts chowing down on them over 10 times a day. Getting a deep, proper latch is the #1 priority so your nipples can start healing and toughening up until it’s hopefully pain-free. If you’re struggling, try seeing a lactation consultant and/or have your baby checked for tongue or lip tie by a specialist.
  • APNO: For open wounds on nipples, the infamous All Purpose Nipple Ointment was a godsend. It contains a bit of steroid and requires a doctor’s prescription, but many mamas will not need something so strong (over the counter nipple balm worked fine for me first time around!). Also, APNO can be hard to obtain in a pinch since it has to be mixed at a compounding pharmacy, so talk to your doc in advance in case you’ll need it after giving birth.
  • Silver cups: Many of you raved about silver cups as a natural and effective remedy, and if needs be, using a nipple shield. I haven’t used a shield before and there are mixed opinions, so talk to a lactation consultant if unsure!
  • Breast warming / cooling pads: so soothing those first few weeks. Can buy online but a few of you said it’s an easy DIY using the foot of stockings filled with rice or flax seed and tied off in a knot. Microwave for about 30 seconds (not too hot!) and insert in your bra for relief.
Postpartum Diapers & Night Sweats
  • Postpartum bleeding: If you don’t want to stack a thick maxi pad that shifts around on top of mesh undies, many mama recommended Always discreet postpartum underwear with built in absorbency. Buy just a small pack first in case bleeding subsides within your first week home.
  • Postpartum night sweats: I slept on top of 1-2 large absorbent liners from the hospital (or puppy pee pads) to avoid having to change drenched bed sheets in the middle of the night.
Mastitis & Clogged Milk Ducts

A few weeks in I found myself with a fever, chills, body aches and would’ve feared I had Covid if it weren’t for the lump and throbbing pain in my breast. Sure enough it was the dreaded Mastitis from a clogged milk duct. I managed to kick it, but definitely talk to your doctor if you don’t feel well and antibiotics might be needed.

What helped:

  • Taking a hot shower and massaging the clogged area with an electric toothbrush before nursing
  • Massage the affected breast using a warm, moist compress like a towel or the aforementioned microwave warming pads before feeding on that side
  • Taking Sunflower lecithin daily to help prevent clogged ducts again.
  • Pumping once a day after my morning feeding (when my breasts are most full) to really drain them well, especially if your baby is a lazy nurser.

A new one for me this time around, and an interesting Google search! Apparently, hemorrhoids (aka engorged veins that bust out of your rectal area) are common from pregnancy due to the amount of internal pressure, and from labor due to all the pushing. Some will “rectify” themselves on their own, but boy can they be uncomfortable!

What helped:

  • Tucks medicated pads stored in the fridge and kept inside postpartum undies
  • Sitz baths and using my trusty Frida Mom bidet bottle with warm water
  • Eating prunes & a high fiber diet starting a few weeks leading up to labor
Postpartum Swelling / Edema

I felt bigger the first week postpartum than my last week of pregnancy! Postpartum swelling is common from the body’s retention of excess fluids from pregnancy as well as residual fluids from IVs.

What helped:

  • Compression socks and leggings kept the blood circulating, and can also help with pregnancy swelling.
  • Avoid sitting in one position for too long and elevate your feet with pillows when sleeping or sitting
  • Use a foam roller to massage if you have one and avoid high sodium foods
Target Auden padded nursing camis
Postpartum belly band
Left: swelling 1 week postpartum, wearing Auden padded nursing camis size S (I size up)
Right: Kindred Bravely Jane PJs sz S (also on Amazon), postpartum belly binder S/M

P.S. I now have 3 pairs of these super soft nursing PJ / lounge sets and wear and wash them on heavy rotation! Also makes a wonderful gift for new moms but I would go a size up to be safe. Available on both Amazon and Kindred Bravely, where they gave me code JEAN20 for 20% off (KB’s site only).

Your C-Section Recovery Tips

I can’t speak to this from personal experience, so tapped into the wonderful community of mamas on IG for C-section recovery tips! These were some of the ones that kept popping up in responses again and again:

  • Pillows: for pressing over your incision area when you cough, sneeze or laugh and for support when sitting or standing up. The My Brest Friend nursing pillow was also suggested for keep baby’s weight off the incision while feeding (I’m still using this pillow 5 months in!).
  • Compression garments:
    • Belly band / binder which most birthing hospitals can provide and you can ask your doc about. I liked this belly binder and sized up to size S/M.
    • High rise compression leggings to wear over the scar and keep circulation going
  • Scar care: Once it’s safe to do so, massage your scar and use a scar cream (the one by Earth Mama came up often) and silicone scar strips to help with healing.
  • High waisted underwear that sits above the incision. Your birthing hospital should provide disposable ones, and for non-disposable underwear, KB postpartum undies (also on Amazon) were a reader fave. I got these and found them to be very comfy yet pretty and didn’t scream “postpartum.”
  • Pain meds: if you need them, stay on top of taking your pain killers by setting an alarm.
  • Postpartum vaginal bleeding: be aware that this will likely happen, same as with a vaginal delivery.
  • Walking: start walking as soon as you can, even if it’s a few laps around your room.
  • Baby bassinet beside your bed, one that you don’t have to bend over very far to reach into or get out of bed for. We got this Halo bassinet (see ours in this post) which folds down on one side.
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  1. Michele wrote:

    Thanks for sharing your story and pictures! They have helped me better understand what my pregnant sister is going through, and what to expect after she gives birth.

    Posted 3.3.21 Reply
  2. Amanda wrote:

    Thank you, Jean, for sharing your experiences! I had an unexpected C-section with my first about 14 weeks ago. One caveat to the pain killers recommendation: check with your doctor/nurses for how long to take a painkiller and set a calendar reminder to never exceed that length of time. I was on 600mg of ibuprofen every 6 hours for about 4 weeks; I later found out I shouldn’t have take this high dosage for longer than a week or 10 days. The time just flew by with sleep deprivation and a frustrating nursing experience and I did not realize it had been 4 weeks. At 4 weeks PP, I developed an awful ulcer which took about 7 weeks to heal, after a PPI med from a GI doc, on top of everything else from postpartum recovery. The pain was bad enough that I could not take care of my baby during the day and had to hand him off to my family to watch; pumping made the pain worse. I urge all mamas to to meds!

    Posted 3.1.21 Reply
  3. Anne wrote:

    Ah night sweats! I didn’t even think of that…kept wondering why I was waking up SO sweaty! Can totally relate to the blinding pain breastfeeding at the beginning…Dealing with your post partum body is almost more work than the baby!

    Rio is adorable! I have a 6 week old girl. 🙂 Two things I did differently this time were purchasing the Taking Cara Babies Newborn Sleep Class (a great balanced template for helping sleep AND encouraging rocking/cuddling/nursing) and doing pelvic floor exercises (to help with incontinence which I struggled with for too long after my first).

    Thanks for these posts they are extremely helpful!

    Posted 3.1.21 Reply
  4. Lisa Lian wrote:

    Hi Jean! I’m expecting later this year and trying to mentally, emotionally and physically prepare myself for all the highs and lows of pregnancy and motherhood. Thank you so much for your candid info! Really look forward to your posts!!

    Posted 3.1.21 Reply
  5. Linda Stansfield wrote:

    Your children are as lovely as their mother. I have copied your looks so many times. Thanks for all your inspirations.

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
  6. Lucinette wrote:

    I feel SEEN in that hemorrhoid section! Good grief!! As if the rest of it weren’t enough, that was (pardon the image) really the cherry on the cake for me… Thank you for these great, informative and supportive posts.

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
  7. Brandi wrote:

    Jean, thank you for being so open about your birthing and recovery experience. To be honest I never knew open nipple wounds was even a thing that could happen! I dont have any children of my own (yet) but I still like to read up on things and appreciate when others share their stories. Women are so incredibly strong. I hope the post partum phase has gotten better and life has gotten more ‘normal’ for you. You, Nick, and those sweet babies have a great weekend! 🙂

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
  8. Fernanda wrote:

    Another wonderful post, Jean!!!!! Thank you!!!! Much love to you and your beautiful family!!!

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
  9. E wrote:

    I’ve had two c-sections and wearing a surgical binder (belly binder) made such a huge difference to my ability to move around for the first week. The hospital I delivered my first in put mine on as a matter of course, but I had to request one in the hospital where I delivered my second.

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Good to know! My first time giving birth they even offered me one as a non c-section patient (I had mentioned my midsection and what felt like organs were swooshing around loosely and uncomfortably), and the generic one made me feel so much better I went home and found one that was a little better fitting.

      Posted 3.1.21 Reply
  10. Oh, Jean, what a rough ride. Your second experience is similar to what my first round was.
    My second is a bit less bad but we’re still riding our rough waves. Our second has been having such trouble sleeping, so much more than they did in the first month, that I have been a total zombie. We don’t have any help, which makes this both harder and lonelier than our first go-round, but I suppose the one unexpected benefit of being isolated due to COVID is my partner is working from home and can share the childcare in a way he couldn’t before.

    I loved those jammies you shared and gifted them to a friend in a warmer climate but since we’re (I am anyway) always freezing here in the SF area, I am living in a steady rotation of the Uniqlo pile lined sweatpants and lined hoodies.

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      I’m so sorry to hear about no help this time around, especially with a baby who is having a tough time snoozing! From reading some of your updates you’re an incredible mama, powering through this on top of other challenges and a heartbreaking loss this year. Sending you love and hoping things will get a little easier a day at a time xx

      Posted 3.1.21 Reply
  11. Amanda wrote:

    Thank you for normalizing the less glamorous side of birthing!

    We used nipple shields for about 9 months. The LC at the hospital was fiercely against them, she told me we could never have a successful nursing relationship if I used them. I had a very forceful let down that would choke baby, the sheiks slowed that down! After 22 months of nursing, safe to say we proved that LC wrong. Do whatever you need, and want, to do to fed that baby!

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Amazing! 22 months is no easy feat. Thanks for sharing your experience Amanda xx

      Posted 3.1.21 Reply
  12. Jessica wrote:

    The sleep part is what got me. We NEED to normalize that not every baby will sleep through the night at 8 weeks that’s not the norm. Rocking or feeding your baby to sleep is truly okay ❤️

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      For sure … babies are on their own pace and every parent just needs to do what’s right for them and their family! Aside from safe sleep of course, I’m much less concerned over other sleep suggestions this time around.

      Posted 3.1.21 Reply
  13. Alejandra Ramirez wrote:

    Awesome post! It still 🤯🤯 what moms have to go through with the pregnancy and post partum!
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thanks for reading, Alejandra! Of course everyone’s experience will be unique but I know many of these are common postpartum, so I hope it will help prepare even just a few mamas!

      Posted 3.1.21 Reply
  14. AA wrote:

    Thank you for sharing. I learned so much from your original post partum post for when I had my first baby.

    Posted 2.27.21 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      That means a lot, mama! Thank you <3

      Posted 3.1.21 Reply

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