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13 things that surprised me about having a C-section

6. How fast they got my son out. 

mama and newborn in hospital

My first son was born via a non-medicated vaginal delivery. I felt like a mama warrior after I delivered him. (I was all—“I am woman, hear me roar!"—and everything.) So when I went into labor with my second son after my water broke at 34 weeks, I knew I would be having a much different experience.


His birth would not be about me, I realized. It would be about the fastest, safest way for him to enter this world. And with the doctors and my doula, we decided a C-section was inevitable and was the best route for me and my baby.

As you could imagine, going into labor at 34 weeks was scary enough, but the icing on the cake was the fact that I would need a C-section—something I was completely unprepared for. I had no idea what to expect.

Many of my friends had delivered babies this way, so I had a vague idea. But there were many things about the process and the recovery that surprised me.

1. How much you will still bleed

I thought with a C-section I would bleed so much less—but that was not the case. I still bled for 14 weeks. Granted it tapered off much faster than a vaginal delivery, but I did not think I would need to stock up on panty liners.

2. Learning about things I never knew existed—belly binder, silicone strips, keloids...

Pre C-section, I had no idea what any of these things were. I thought the belly binder they handed me in the hospital was a joke. I remember thinking, I'm not trying to waist train like a Kardashian…

Little did I know how helpful it would be. It gave me additional support and made me feel “sucked in" so that I felt more secure. And silicone strips? They confused me at first, but they have helped the keloids and have minimized the appearance of my scar. They also create a protective barrier against underwear and clothing.

3. Wardrobe preferences

The beauty of maternity leggings during the first few weeks (okay, months) after a C-section should not be diminished. I LOVED these from Target! That was the best $20 I've spent in my life. (Or should I say $100, since I bought a bunch of pairs?...) They did not hit my scar, they were great for nursing in public, and provided a nice skin barrier from the aforementioned waist trainer.

And did I mention how thankful I am for granny panties? (A sentence I never thought I would say, but motherhood makes you do and say some surprising things). There is a real need for soft underwear that reach above the incision. So, do yourself a favor and buy a pack of these.

4. It's real surgery

My doula asked if I wanted pictures of the birth. I said no. She took them anyway, and I'm so grateful. But it took me a while to look at them. Like, months, honestly. But when I did, I realized...this was a real surgical procedure. I guess I never just thought about how serious it is since you hear about C-sections pretty regularly.

5. My husband wasn't allowed in for the spinal

It seems like every anesthesiologist is different, but my husband had to wait in a lonely folding chair—all scrubbed up, with nowhere to go—in the hall, while I was getting the spinal. Luckily, they did allow my doula in, thank goodness.

6. How fast they got my son out

From the time the spinal kicked in, to the time I was looking at my son, was probably less than five minutes. I was shocked how quickly it went. We didn't even have time to finish one song my husband was playing on his iPhone to keep me calm. The longest part was stitching me up, and counting surgical tools. I remember a lot of counting and taking inventory of the room.

7. No need for the vaginal recovery I experienced last time

With my first delivery, I sat on an egg crate for weeks. For some reason, I was still prepared for the lidocaine spray and witch hazel pads that came along with a vaginal delivery. But I quickly realized a C-section is very different. Your lady parts are still very much intact and pain-free. Now there's a silver lining!

8. The gas, oh the gas!

I experienced gas pains all the way up to my neck. I'm still not sure how that's possible, but however it gets there—it's not pleasant. The two tips I learned were to take the gas medicine they gave me (all of it!) and not to invite anyone to come see me in the hospital who I would be embarrassed about passing a little gas in front of.

9. The incision took some getting used to

I had a big fear of looking at or touching my incision. I'm not sure why, but it took months for me to be able to touch it. It's a strange sensation. Plus, it was always numb, but only on one side. In the beginning, I felt sharp pains on the one side. The doctor informed me that usually one side hurts more than the other because it's where the stitches end.

10. It seems like your incision area is a target

You pick up your son, he accidentally hits that area. You burp your infant, he sits on that area. You rest a Boppy on your lap, right on that spot. For months following your C-section, you may feel like your incision is getting in the way.

11. Lifting and bending limitations

I was told I couldn't pick up my toddler, or laundry, or anything really. When things fell on the floor, my toes became my best tool. Scrunch those toes and pick things up, mama! I also struggled to get my pants on and shave my legs. This is when a super loving and supportive partner makes such a difference. (Thanks, babe!)

12. Daily activities become an Olympic-sized feat

Laughing, coughing, sneezing all hurt. Like really hurt. I would have to push a pillow down on my lap for counter pressure if I had to do any of these things. So don't invite any funny friends over. ?

My husband also got a sneak-peek of what life is going to be like when I'm 80 years old. Sitting down, standing up, getting in and out of a car. These things took time. We'd start 10 minutes before we actually had to leave the house because the act of getting up from the couch, putting on shoes, walking to the car, then actually getting in the car—took quite a bit of time.

13. I still missed sleeping on my stomach

After being pregnant and only being able to sleep on my sides, I looked forward to the time when I would reunite with my face planted in the pillow, while soundly sleeping on my stomach. But I couldn't right away. Only just recently, four months later, do I feel comfortable doing that again. It had been almost a year since I was able to sleep on my stomach, but the reunion was oh-so-sweet.

All births come with challenges. No one ever has a completely smooth road from conception to delivery. But having a C-section reminded me to slow down. That it's okay to ask people to help me. That it's okay to feel vulnerable. That it's okay to wonder when you will feel “normal" again.

Like with anything else, but especially with parenthood, show yourself some love and grace, mama. This too shall pass.

In the meantime, enjoy the down-time and the sweet baby snuggles you so deserve.

Need some extra support recovering from a c-section? These products can help, mama.

Comfy compression leggings

Belly Bandit mothertucker compression leggings

With stretchy support for your belly and back and comfy protection for your incision, these high-waisted leggings are a recovery essential.

$80

A supportive belly wrap

Viscose from bamboo belly wrap

Take tender care of that incision and support your core throughout recovery. The snug fit lends comforting constant pressure but doesn't restrict breathing or circulation. This version is one of our favorites because it's made from super-soft and breathable bamboo.

$70

High-waisted recovery undies

Belly Bandit c-section recovery briefs

This high-waisted design lays flat and is incredibly gentle against your scar. Silver-infused fibers help eliminate bacteria and odor to keep you feeling fresh and comfortable.

$35
We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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