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You’ve spent months preparing for your baby’s arrival. But don’t forget about what you’ll need once baby’s earthside (you’re really important in this whole scenario too). Whether you’re scheduled for an elective C-section delivery or just want to be extra prepared for any birth option, know that recovering from a C-section requires a bit of planning because you’ll need some TLC to heal from what is essentially major abdominal surgery.
We’ve got helpful tips on how to prepare for your C-section now to set you up for success after you bring your precious bundle home.
8 tips on how to prepare for a C-section
1. Plan for easy meals to have on hand
Birth and breastfeeding can make you ravenously hungry, but it can be hard to find the time (or desire) to cook when you’ve just had a baby. Take some time now to stock, prepare and freeze some favorite meals like soups, stews and casseroles, plus easy snacks (here are a few of our top breastfeeding foods). We also love Meal Trains, where you set up a system for people to bring you meals. Your mom’s famous homemade lasagna brought to your door? Yes, please!
2. Delegate responsibilities
Think about all the little things that need to happen in any given day—especially the ones that are really important to you—and start asking people to “sign up” after your C-section to help with chores like laundry, light housekeeping, errands and dog walking, to name a few. Also think about scheduling in time for people to come over and hold your baby so you can take a nap, shower or just watch some Netflix in peace. People want to help you. Sometimes you just have to show them how.
3. Find a ride
You won’t be able to drive in the weeks following your birth. So think about the places you (and your kids) will need to go, like doctor’s appointments, ballet practice, the grocery store, and ask for help.
Related: A brief history of the C-section
4. Stock up on items to maximize your comfort and healing
When it comes to how to prepare for a C-section, having the right products is a big part of the process. Investing in higher-rise underwear can make sure your incision is protected as you heal, and having a tools like a belly band on hand now means you’ll have home remedies for C-section recovery as soon as you get home.
5. Simplify & declutter
There may be an influx of baby presents into your home right now, which is awesome. But most experienced moms will tell you how much easier motherhood is when you simplify and declutter. Do what you can now to minimize and organize—postpartum you will be so glad you did!
6. Create stations
Babies poop a lot. They also eat a lot. So it’s really nice to have multiple places in your home to address those needs, especially because walking up and down stairs can be quite uncomfortable—or even not allowed—after a C-section birth. Make a few little diaper-changing caddies (stocked with diapers, wipes and diaper cream) and put one in each of the rooms you spend the most time in. Create mini nursing nooks in a few spots too (a comfy place to sit, a pillow, a book, some snacks, a water bottle).
If you have multiple floors in your home, you may want to set up a comfortable place where you can sleep on the first floor for the first week or so, to minimize using the stairs.
7. Find resources
It’s hard to know what you’ll need exactly, but having some local professionals ready to call will save you a lot of stress, should you need them. Ask for recommendations for a postpartum doula, a baby nurse, a lactation consultant and a therapist who specializes in postpartum depression and anxiety. If you never need them, great. But if you do, you’ll be so glad to already have their info on hand.
8. Get extra sleep
Birth is a lot of work, and you want to enter it as rested and healthy as possible. Banking sleep now in pregnancy actually can pay off down the line when waking up every 2-3 hours with an infant will become your norm. Doing this can help you to have an easier and faster recovery. So go ahead and take that nap, mama. You deserve it (and you’ll be so glad you did)!
What to do the night before a C-section
If you know you’re scheduled for a C-section, be sure to follow your doctor’s pre-op instructions the night before your surgery, which may involve specific instructions such as showering with a special soap, restricting solid foods 8 hours before the surgery, and avoiding any pubic hair removal, all in the name of reducing infections and complications. You’ll also likely need to remove any jewelry or piercings before the surgery. And try to get a good night’s sleep!
Rupp TL, Wesensten NJ, Bliese PD, Balkin TJ. Banking sleep: realization of benefits during subsequent sleep restriction and recovery. Sleep. 2009;32(3):311-321. doi:10.1093/sleep/32.3.311
A version of this story was originally published on March 3, 2017. It has been updated.