Recovering from a c-section with a toddler at home (image shows newborn infant laying next to toddler on a bed)

How to Prepare for Recovering from a C-Section with a Toddler

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Are you preparing to recover from a c-section with a toddler? If you have little ones under the age of 5 and have a planned cesarean delivery approaching, you’re in the right place! This step-by-step article will help you prepare for recovering from a c-section with a toddler!

How to Prepare for Recovering from a C-Section with Toddlers

So, what exactly about a cesarean delivery makes the recovery harder compared to a vaginal birth when you have a toddler or two waiting for you back home?

Well, I’m pretty sure ANY toddler mom already knows how hectic it can be running around all day. From trying to keep your little one entertained to calming the storm of their big feelings — toddler parenting is some tough work! Just sprinkle in recovering from major abdominal surgery and you know have quite the challenge ahead of you.

It sounds scary, I know, but don’t worry. These tips below will help you out BIG TIME! (Pssssst. If you haven’t made yourself a c-section recovery kit yet, peep this list to get started today!)

Understand general c-section recovery tips.

If you’ve never had a cesarean delivery before, now is the best time to familiarize yourself with some c-section recovery basics:

  • You’ll need a lot of bed rest (yes, literally).
  • Pain is different for everyone, but plan to take your pain medications as directed. There’s nothing worst than skipping a dose and trying to catch up on pain relief from a cesarean delivery.
  • You most likely will not be able to lift your toddler for at least 4-6 weeks (until you get medical clearance from your doctor).
  • You’ll have to pay close attention to your incision. Make sure it stays clean and that you avoid any clothing that can cause irritation.
  • Plan to have help at home. This could be your partner, a friend, a family member, or even a postpartum doula.
  • Ensure your maternity leave is situated before labor so you can focus on resting.

These are only some of the things you should be focusing on to help your body recover from surgery.

Practice Toddler Quiet Time BEFORE Your Due Date.

Quiet time is a game-changer for many parents, especially cesarean moms! It’s a time when your toddler can quietly play independently OR with you!

You won’t have to worry about roughhousing or anything crazy, because it’s all about calm, quiet activities. You can simply set a timer for 30 minutes, bring out a container full of 4-5 different toys or activities, and let them enjoy!

When you begin introducing quiet time, I always suggest being present and partaking in the activity. Once they get the hang of it, slowly limit the time you stay involved.

I also suggest keeping a variety of bins full of activities so you can alternate them daily or weekly. Need some quiet time ideas for your toddler? Peep these below:

Lifting Toddler After C-Section — Set a realistic expectation.

Depending on the age of your toddler, this could be tricky if they don’t understand, but it’s important to convey to them that mommy will not be able to carry them around much after surgery.

Knowing it can’t be avoided forever, you should also try to take special caution around lifting your little one while you’re still recovering.

Try to take as much of the strain out of your core and into your legs instead whenever you have to lift them up. In a perfect world, you’d have a caretaker to give you a hand so you don’t have to lift them.

You can even wear these c-section shorts to help add a little more support to your recovering abdomen.

Get rest, but don’t neglect walking too!

Getting lots of rest is such an important piece to a cesarean recovery, but it’s also important to move your body as well!

No, we’re not talking about a full-on workout, but we are talking about walking! Walking after a c-section can help you to have normal bowel movements, reduce blood clots, and ease gas pains.

Making sure you’re getting the right ratio between walking and resting can help you have a smooth recovery which means you’re one step closer to keeping up with your toddler. You don’t need to go walking laps around the neighborhood, but try your best to get out of bed even it’s to go brush your teeth and sit down again.

Of course, if you’re in excruciating pain, make sure you’re taking your pain medications as directed and consulting with your doctor to make sure all is well.

Plan to take your pain medicine.

Speaking of pain, don’t skip your directed doses! Sometimes, we like to think “Oh well I haven’t felt any pain and I feel pretty good, I’ll hold off on my next dose” when in reality, you haven’t felt any pain because your pain meds are doing their job.

When it comes to recovering from a cesarean, it’s important to stay on top of your pain control for those first few days.ESPECIALLY, when you have a rambunctious toddler at home.

Most doctors will send you home with over-the-counter pain medications, but you can also use things like warm/cool pads to help reduce any swelling and simply soothe the discomfort. xKeeping your abdomen well supported, such as wearing cesarean compression panties, can also help greatly!

Ask for help.

Asking for help is probably one of the BEST things you can do for yourself and your toddler while recovering from a c-section.

As a mom, I understand how hard it can be to ask for help. I understand the need to feel like we should be able to “do it all”.

The reality is, you’re in a state where your recovery needs to be a priority, and to be honest, it’s only a few weeks.And imagine how much fun your toddler would still be able to even while mommy is recovering — it’s a win-win for everyone!

Use a breastfeeding pillow (even if you aren’t breastfeeding).

Many moms assume breastfeeding pillows are just for breastfeeding mothers. Even if you won’t be breastfeeding (nursing or pumping), you can still use a breastfeeding pillow like this one to make holding your newborn easier.

The benefit of a breastfeeding pillow (like this one) allows you to avoid any direct pressure or contact to your incision. Therefore, take most of the painful pressure off of your healing belly.

Do yourself the favor of grabbing this breastfeeding pillow or adding it to your baby registry!

Prepare your meals.

Standing for a prolonged period of time to cook meals for your family will not be in your discharge instructions for recovery.

Instead, spend some time preparing lots of easy-to-make freezer meals and crock-pot meals that you can just throw in the oven or crock-pot and serve up!

Another option is to preorder prepped meals! Freshly, for example, is a great meal service that delivers affordable and healthy chef-prepped meals to your doorstep !Freshly offers a TON of meal options too (check out their menu right here)! You can choose options from classic hearty recipes, high protein, and much more!

Use a c-section abdominal belt.

We talked a little bit about it above, but a c-section abdominal belt, also known as a “belly binder“, can be very helpful in offering your core the support it needs after surgery

.The problem with belly binders these days, is there are a TON of options. Some of these companies behind the support belts have taken it upon themselves to kick up the marketing notch.

What I mean is, if you see a cesarean belt claiming to “help you lose weight” or “regain your abs” — my best tip is to avoid them’.

You don’t need to wear a cesarean belly wrap that is so tight it’s constricting. The goal here is to use a cesarean wrap that will benefit you by:

  • Offering compression just enough to support your core.
  • Help minimize pain.
  • Cover & protect your incision.
  • Decrease swelling & bloating.
  • Provide support for your pelvic floor.

After researching them pretty thoroughly, these are the BEST cesarean belly wraps:

Have Emotional Support Lined Up

If you had an unplanned c-section or an emergency c-section, you may find yourself processing these events after birth.

It’s important you pay close attention to the signs of experiencing baby blues or postpartum depression before it consumes your recovery period.

Whether your emotional support is in the form of a therapist, your partner, some kind of postpartum journal or workbook — have something in place to help you have an outlet to process the big and scary feelings you might experiencing throughout this recovery period.

Other ways you can support your mental health during this time include:

  • Taking time to bond with your new baby (alone and away from your toddler)
  • Spending time with BOTH children together
  • Talking about and processing your birth experience with a support person
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Get rest when needed
  • Have a lactation consultant lined up to help with bottle or breastfeeding challenges

Allow your village (no matter how big or small) to step in and support you as you recover from surgery and try to parent your older kids at the same time.

Pay Close Attention to the Signs of Infection

While recovering from your cesarean section and caring for your toddler, you’ll want to be on high alert for any signs of infection during those first couple of weeks

.Remember, if you do notice any of these signs or symptoms, let your health care provider know right away.

C-Section Incision Signs & Symptoms to Look Out For:

  • Redness or swelling at the incision site
  • Oozing from the incision site
  • Pain around or near incision that is getting worst or not going away
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Onset of fever
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

Be sure to follow your cesarean birth post-operative instructions to minimize your chances of an infection. It’s also a good idea to prioritize your rest and recovery by eliciting as much help as you can get during these early weeks of recovery.

Caring for Toddler After A C-Section

Taking care of a toddler after a c-section requires a ton of patience. Not just for your little one, but for YOU!

Please, don’t feel like to need to be a super mom and do it on your own. Newsflash, you’re already a super mom! P

ushing yourself beyond your limits and risking your postpartum recovery isn’t doing anyone any favors. Instead, use the benefit of time before your planned c-section to prepare as much as you can.

  • Hire some help.
  • Enlist the help of friends and family.
  • Prepare your family’s meals.
  • Emphasize the importance of quiet time.
  • Start talking to your toddler about what to expect and how they can help.

Try to remember that being a toddler welcoming a new baby is also a big adjustment. Allow yourself grace to deal with their big feelings as they navigate this life with a new sibling too.
I hope these tips help you prepare before you’re recovering from a c-section with toddler.

Have you had c-section while caring for a toddler before? Drop a comment and leave even more tips for other moms looking for support.

Looking for more postpartum recovery tips & resources? SEE BELOW:

Cesarean Recovery Tips for Moms with a Toddler At Home

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