The road to new motherhood can be exhausting. After months of growing and finally delivering a baby, every new mom should indulge in a little self-care—especially those brave C-section moms who’ve gone through major surgery.
While you’re focused on caring for your newborn, it’s important to also take care of yourself. Treat yourself to a cozy blanket or your favorite meal—whatever will make you feel relaxed and rewarded—and don’t forget to get comfortable postpartum clothes to make your recovery process easier.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to avoid bottoms with buttons, snaps, and zippers as they may irritate your C-section incision. Instead, focus your postpartum wardrobe search on pieces that are light and breathable; look for super-soft clothes that will provide the comfort you crave while you heal.
Getting the right clothes for after a C-section is also key for breastfeeding since some nursing clothes may be too tight around your incision site. Find clothes that are comfortable and convenient so nursing and pumping are as easy as possible while you’re recovering.
Below are some tips on what to wear after a cesarean delivery. We hope these ideas help you find comfort during the early days with your new love.
What to Wear During the Day
The waistbands in certain pants and shorts can irritate the incision site for some moms, while others may want an alternative to the “mom uniform” of loose nursing tops and pants. Comfy dresses are the perfect solution. (Plus, a nursing dress makes a great going-home outfit, so be sure to pack one in your hospital bag for when you can change out of that hospital gown.)
Great for dressing up or down, a dress with a relaxed fit (like an airy maxi dress) will be a versatile staple for your C-section recovery wardrobe. Choose one with breathable material that stretches so you can easily pull the dress down for nursing without aggravating your C-section scar. A breezy dress is sure to help you feel comfortable and stylish—ideal for those days when you don’t feel like sporting the athleisure look.
BraveMom Tip: Look for a comfortable nightgown that can double as a cute nursing dress!
Leggings and Loose Pants
Depending on how your incision heals, post C-section, you may love a comfortable pair of postpartum or maternity leggings (with or without a compression panel). Look for high waisted leggings or yoga pants that rise above your incision and provide coverage while nursing. High rise leggings pair well with most nursing tank tops and nursing T-shirts, and you’ll wear them long after you’ve recovered.
If you want a looser fit, joggers or culottes can be the perfect alternative. They’re a great transitional piece between seasons and can work with a variety of shoes, from slippers to sneakers. You can even dress them up with cute sandals. Look for a pair with a wide, stretchy, high-rise waistband at the top for optimal comfort.
Another great option—especially for creating cute, trendy outfits during your recovery—is the jumpsuit (especially a nursing jumpsuit), which is ideal for breastfeeding after a C-section. Available in a variety of cuts and lengths, jumpsuits can cater to many types of weather and occasions. Because they often don’t have a fitted waist, they're a great choice for your belly-birth recovery.
BraveMom Tip: Loose-fitting jumpsuits that crisscross or pull down in the front will make nursing a cinch!
What to Wear at Night
Comfortable sleepwear should be a priority for every new mom. Super-soft PJs are essential nursing clothes after C-section surgery. Although nursing pajamas are usually considered night-time apparel, new moms often wear them around the clock, especially in the fourth trimester. Look for a fabric that makes you feel cozy, a design that allows easy access for nursing, and a style that helps you feel beautiful instead of frumpy.
Click the photo to check out the lovely Lucille Nursing Nightgown.
If you’re not comfortable wearing nightgowns, go for pajama bottoms with a wide, soft waistband that won’t bother your incision.
Click the photo to check out the buttery-soft Jane Pajamas.
BraveMom Tip: Look for pajama tops that are cute enough to pair with your favorite skirt or leggings!
What to Wear Underneath Your Clothing
Many new moms know they may need to buy some nursing bras, but some forget about recovery undies! Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section, you should treat yourself to new underwear. As the uterus sheds its lining, you can experience vaginal bleeding for weeks. While hospital mesh panties are functional (and we do sing their praises for a few days), they’re not really fashionable or practical for long-term use.
Go for stretchy, high waisted underwear with a wide band across the top. You’ll want something that sits above your incision and won’t slip down as you move. Look for full coverage panties roomy enough to accommodate large postpartum pads the hospital will provide (or that you make on your own!).
BraveMom Tip: Make sure your new underwear is breathable and comfortable, and keep in mind that these postpartum panties may end up with stains from postpartum spotting or leaking, so pick dark colors if possible and pretreat stains if necessary.
Who knew that you’d be able to use one of your favorite maternity products for your postpartum recovery too? Many C-section moms report feeling extra “jiggly” after delivery and say that wearing a belly band really helps. This simple wrap, worn around your torso and secured by Velcro, provides additional support for your body as it heals. Belly bands are also recommended for postpartum moms who have back pain or need additional abdominal reinforcement.
This structured, corset-like wrap promotes quick healing by keeping stitches securely in place and providing much-needed abdominal support. These features make it easier for you to move around during your recovery. Some hospitals will give abdominal binders to postpartum moms, but if that’s not the case, you can buy one online.
The best advice for both types of wraps (and everything you wear postpartum) is to listen to your body. If something is uncomfortable or causing you pain, you may need to wait a bit longer to try wearing it.
BraveMom Tip: Some postpartum doulas recommend Ace Bandages for wrapping postpartum bellies!
Other C-Section Recovery Necessities
C-section mamas highly recommend keeping a pillow handy to hold close to your belly when you sneeze, cough, and laugh (especially on the ride home from the hospital).
Nursing pillows like My Brest Friend are great for belly-birth moms who nurse since they help lift your baby away from your incision. Carefully positioned regular pillows work well too!
To help relieve discomfort and reduce swelling at the incision site, try heat therapy. You can purchase a microwaveable heating pad for easy warming. The use of heat, along with other pain management options, can make your delivery recovery much more comfortable.
Last, but definitely not least, is advice for all postpartum moms: follow the instructions your doctor and health care providers give you. If you’re given pain relievers and stool softeners, take them as directed. We’ve all tried to outlast physical pain at some point, but the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to listen to what your body is saying.
While motherhood can often feel like it’s full of “grin and bear it” moments, the aches and pains of recovery shouldn’t be ignored. Take heed of any physical limitations your doctor recommends (like not lifting anything heavier than your baby, often for 4-6 weeks after delivery), and remember your medical team is your best resource while you recover. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor with questions and concerns.
A Final Word of Encouragement
Recovering from a C-section can take time. Although you may be eager to return to a formerly active lifestyle, remember that it's both normal and expected for the C-section healing process to take a while. Be patient. You have a lot on your plate, and you need to allow your body to heal.
To be the best parent possible to your new baby, make sure you’re tending to yourself: get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and relish the hour-long snuggle sessions with your newborn.
While some people bounce back quickly after having a cesarean, others take longer to feel like their pre-pregnancy selves. Delivery is a unique experience for everyone, so try to resist the urge to compare yourself to other new moms. What you’ve just experienced is no small feat, so allow yourself the time you need to heal. Do the best you can, and know that you're doing an amazing job!
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Please reach out to your health care team with any questions.