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Taking care of a toddler while recovering from a C-section

I am a mama, hear me roar. I think I am invincible. I think I can do it all. I think I can be everything to everyone. I think I can be in 10 places at once. I think I can do everything with one hand.

Basically, I think I can do...

All. The. Things.

That is until my second son was born via emergency C-section. (Which was a humbling experience, to say the least.) I could barely care for myself, let alone my newborn and toddler.

Before our second son's arrival, I was extra mindful to include my older son in our baby prep to ensure he did not feel like he was being left out, or brushed aside, or worst of all, replaced. I wanted him to feel as loved and cared for as he typically did.

I wanted to carve out special "Mommy and Me" time. I wanted to be cautious of the language I used, never saying things like "I can't do ____ because of the baby." This was me trying to do all the things. I felt it was attainable. And it all seemed great in theory, but then my C-section threw me for a loop.

I underestimated it all. The surgery, the recovery, the limitations.

It pained me every time I said, "Be gentle with Mommy because my belly is tender." Or "I'm sorry Mommy can't do that." In the beginning, I didn't realize how many requests I would have to give that response to. Or how many questions I'd receive from my inquisitive toddler about it all like, "How did my brother get here?" I didn't want to scare him. Or scar him, too, for that matter. Because I was the one who wore the scar, not him.

I wanted him to know that Mommy was okay. Mommy could be all the things, to all the people. Mommy had not changed.

(But in reality, Mommy had changed.)

I found myself feeling helpless, hopeless, and worst of all, like a terrible mother.

Both boys needed me. They needed their mama. So I soldiered on, like every mother does. I would grin and bear those tackle hugs from my toddler. I would pick up the baby and wince in pain, but only in private.

I would take deep cleansing breaths before bending down to get my older son dressed as if that would really help. I would get on the floor to play board games, as slowly as a human could possibly move. I would attempt to keep life as "normal" as possible for everyone around me.

I would hide the pain behind a smile. A smile I hoped only I would notice how fake it was. Hoping it was not as transparent to the outside world.

Everyone in my life was so eager to help, that wasn't an issue whatsoever. It was about me, and my boys. I felt the grace period of being understanding and patient lasted only a small time—a week felt like months to my older son.

He wanted his mama to be back to normal. He wanted me to run and jump and play, like I always did. But the truth was, it took me a long time to get back there. I had to be kind to myself. I had to remind myself—I just brought a baby into this world. Via a major surgery.

The muscles that were used to birth my baby are used for everything. Everything. I am not expected to bounce back. I had to put less pressure on myself. As long as that first week felt to my toddler, it would really just be a blip on his radar in the coming months—it would not be something he would remember forever.

Motherhood has taught me so many lessons, too many to count, really. But I think this, this experience, was the most eye-opening of them all. It taught me about self-care and showing myself grace. And, probably the hardest lesson to learn—the fact that I cannot do it all. And maybe most importantly—that no one expects me to.

A friend of mine always says that the mother is the trunk of the tree, and her partner, children, friends, are the branches. If the trunk of the tree is not healthy, the branches cannot flourish. THIS is motherhood, I have learned.

You can't help others, until you help yourself. So, mama, be kind to yourself—be gentle, be compassionate You deserve it.

Recovering from a c-section is hard enough even without caring for a toddler. Here are some of our tried and tested ways to make it easier.

A supportive belly wrap

Belly Bandit postpartum 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

Comfy compression leggings

Belly Bandit compression leggings

Soft and stretchy support that protects your incision and props up your core is essential to recovery. And you can wear them as long as you want, mama.

$80

High-waisted c-section recovery briefs

Belly Bandit c-section recovery briefs

This high-waisted cut 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

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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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.

Our Partners

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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