Vaginal Vs. Cesarean Postpartum Recovery

Vaginal Vs. Cesarean Postpartum Recovery

baby hand, Vaginal Vs. Cesarean Postpartum Recovery

Every baby is different and so is every birth story! After three deliveries, I wanted to break down what postpartum recovery looked like for a vaginal birth verses cesarean birth. This is not a fear-mongering post about all that can go wrong, but an attempt to give context for the different recovery experiences. Knowledge is power!

*This is based on my own experiences and is not medical advice.*

Postpartum Recovery after a Vaginal Birth

For my first baby, I was able to deliver vaginally, but ended up having a pretty traumatic birth that ended in a fourth-degree tear. This was the most difficult and time-consuming recovery out of all three births. I had to be very diligent about taking pain medications to keep the pain at bay. Some items that can help during postpartum recovery in this scenario include: hemorrhoid ice packs, donut pillow to sit on, sitz baths, peri bottle, perineal cooling pads, perineal spray, and stool softeners. Do not overdo physical activity. Listen to your body if you feel like you have done too much! It’s important to stop and take a rest. You may also need additional time for your body to heal before resuming sexual activity with your partner than the typical 6 weeks.

My second birth experience was significantly less eventful! I was able to have a vaginal birth with minimal tearing and labored for almost half the time as my first baby. My body bounced back so much easier. I was able to look back with a lot more empathy for my past self and that experience. I used the same methods for healing. Staying on top of medication helps decrease the pain tremendously. I did not realize how much more challenging it was to heal from a fourth degree tear until I had my second baby.

Postpartum Recovery after a C-Section

I make big babies for being an extremely petite woman unfortunately. My third baby was nine pounds and came a week and a half early! I ended up needing to have a cesarean. I was pretty nervous about this birthing path, but it was the best choice after having a fourth degree tear. Recovery was the most challenging the first week. By week 2, my body began to feel more like my own again. Getting up and moving around is one of the best things you can do for the healing process even though it is so difficult to make yourself do. Each day gets easier! Staying on top of your medication is key for pain management. Some items that helped during postpartum recovery were: high wasted underwear, using washcloths in the shower, sleeping with a pillow, and putting pads over my scar until it wasn’t painful to the touch. C-sections are major abdominal surgery. The doctor goes through 7 layers of tissue, so it’s important to be gentle with yourself during this healing process. Don’t overdue exercise too quickly! It takes time to get your stamina back up for physical activity.

It’s really important to communicate with your health care provider about your needs as you heal!

Whatever your birth story is, you deserve a crown.

I am still astounded by the transformation that mothers go through from pregnancy to birth to breastfeeding.


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