Natural Ways to Help C-Section Recovery

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Natural Ways to Help C-section Recovery
Wellness Mama » Blog » Motherhood » Natural Ways to Help C-Section Recovery

Giving birth to a baby is tough work, no matter how the little one decides to enter the world. Having had a c-section and natural births, I can say that while natural birth can be harder pre-birth, c-sections can be much harder in recovery.

At the same time, there are some things you can do before and after a c-section to help with the recovery process. These are things I wish I’d known and been able to do when I had my c-section that have helped many others since then. I’ve tried many of these things while recovering from natural birth as well, and they were really helpful.

1. Beneficial Broth

I’ve written before about the many benefits of broth and these benefits are especially helpful before or after a surgery or illness. Bone broth is packed with amino acids like proline and glycine, which are needed for collagen production and great for skin healing.

Broth also contains gelatin, which is beneficial for wound healing and for the skin.

There is a reason broth is a traditional hospital food for those recovering from illness or injury (though unfortunately, we’ve moved away traditionally made broths that contain these beneficial ingredients in favor of MSG infused broth.

Traditional broth can really help recovery from c-sections and as a bonus, it helps digestion and can ease the digestive discomforts and constipation that sometimes come after cesarean birth.

2. Binding

When I first heard of this, I thought it sounded more like torture than comfort, but after trying it, I’m sold!

The basic theory is that using light pressure and compression can lessen the pain and speed healing after a c-section. In fact, this can be helpful for non cesarean births as well since it helps reduce pain and helps the uterus return to normal size more quickly.

I personally used this binder after my cesarean at the recommendation of one of my postpartum nurses. If you are interested in trying this, check with your insurance since some of them cover these types of devices (for vaginal or cesarean deliveries). I liked that one because I didn’t have to take it all the way off to go to the bathroom, but there are also much less expensive wraps that just go around the abdomen that worked just as well for me in subsequent deliveries (here is a larger size one).

3. Gentle Cesarean

From being a doula for several women during their cesareans and postpartum time, it seems that the circumstances of the cesarean make a big difference on recovery.

Emergency c-sections or ones where mom loses a lot of blood obviously take longer to recover from, but it seemed like women recover more quickly when they have a peaceful surgery and get adequate bonding time with baby right away. This is an emerging movement called gentle cesarean and when possible, it seems to really help recovery.

4. Soothing Salve

A cesarean is major abdominal surgery and there is a substantial incision. I’ve found that using this belly salve during pregnancy can help avoid stretch marks and using this healing salve after delivery can help remove them and speed scar healing.

I used the healing salve multiple times per day after my c-section as soon as I got the approval from my doctor and my staples were removed. It can also be used on the perineum after a vaginal delivery.

5. Glutamine

Definitely check with your doctor on this, but I took glutamine in the weeks following surgery as there is some research that it can drastically speed recovery:

Glutamine is a key substrate for fast-growing and multiplying cells, including white blood cells. Glutamine stimulates the proliferation of fibroblasts, thereby helping in wound closure. It is the major amino acid lost during any tissue injury, implying a significant role in the preservation of lean body mass. According to researchers, glutamine possesses anabolic properties, which are effective in wound healing only when present in amounts 2 to 7 times greater than required in healthy persons. (source)

From the University of Maryland Medical Center:

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid (building block of protein) in the body. The body can make enough glutamine for its regular needs, but extreme stress (the kind you would experience after very heavy exercise or an injury), your body may need more glutamine than it can make. Most glutamine is stored in muscles followed by the lungs, where much of the glutamine is made.

Glutamine is important for removing excess ammonia (a common waste product in the body). It also helps your immune system function and appears to be needed for normal brain function and digestion.

You can usually get enough glutamine without taking a supplement, because your body makes it and you get some in your diet. Certain medical conditions, including injuries, surgery, infections, and prolonged stress, can lower glutamine levels, however. In these cases, taking a glutamine supplement may be helpful. (source)

I shared a guest post about using glutamine for gut health before, but I also used it post c-section and it seemed to help. Definitely check with your doctor! This is the L-Glutamine I used.

6. Scar Massage

Another thing recommended by my wonderful postpartum nurse. Anytime there is a major incision, there is a potential for adhesions to form where tissue fuses where it isn’t supposed to. To help avoid this, she recommended gentle scar massage once the wound had fully closed and the scab had gone away.

I did this for several months postpartum and it seemed to help soften the scar and bring back feeling in areas that were numb. Here’s how to do it:

7. Water and Magnesium

Many people get constipated after surgery and this can be especially painful after a cesarean (or a vaginal birth!) To help avoid this, my midwife (turned doula during the c-section) told me to drink a lot of water to make sure I was hydrated and to also take some magnesium to help loosen stools and prevent constipation. I used several different forms of magnesium and I talk about them all in this post.

8. Sleep

We often underestimate the power of sleep and after surgery or childbirth (and especially both!) you need more than normal. I was not able to sleep much after my cesarean because my little one was in the NICU and I think this slowed my recovery considerably.

The body regenerates more quickly during sleep and it helps speed tissue repair. Certainly, getting sleep with a newborn is easier said than done, but enlist help and make it a priority if you can. This article has some tips for improving sleep quality.

Have you ever had a c-section? What helped you recover? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


56 responses to “Natural Ways to Help C-Section Recovery”

  1. Tanya S Avatar

    I just had a c section 12 days ago and am wondering with the antibiotics they gave me and therefore went to my breastfed baby (along with her gut flora being disturbed via C section delivery)…what do you recommned to help balance good tummy bacteria? Probiotics? Other supplements?

  2. Kelly Avatar

    Did you do anything special to try and reverse the pre-surgical antibiotic?


  3. paulat Avatar

    I have had two c-sections and hate the scars left from them. My c section scars are raised due to having so many. I bought the Dr Max Powers Scar Serum and I’ve noticed fading within 3 days of use at twice a day. The cream is helping it level out the raised scars. I also noticed the discoloration in my c sections scars has decreased as well.

  4. Kelli Avatar

    I love reading through your blog.
    I will be having my first the end of July and will be using your tips to help with c-section recovery. I have crohns and have had an abscess six years ago and have managed to stay off mess through yoga and diet. Two items you listed that I already have in my diet include probiotics and l-glutamine. These were suggested by my holistic doctor six years ago to help with digestion and heal my insides. The probiotics were a no brainer because they help me “go” when I feel backed up. As we get older we lose the benefits like bacteria in our guts, hence the use of probiotics helps. The l-glutamine I needed to do research on back then because naïveté me thought it was only for body builders. I wish I could find the article I read that helped me understand the importance of it. What I read was a study that patients that took l-glutamine before and after stomach surgery healed faster than those that did not take it. For me personally I fully agree because when going through healing of crohns issues or anything else gut related, my doctors are constantly amazed at how quick I heal without the aid of traditional medicines.
    Thank you for all your tips!

  5. Julie Avatar

    Hi, I am going in to have a fibroid removed. They will be cutting me pretty much like a cesarean because it is the size of a football. Could you please tell me how much Glutamine you took everyday?
    Thank you

  6. Betty Avatar

    Well if you had had your C Section in the UK your arms they would not have strapped your arms down because this is not done at all here in the UK. Not in any hospital.
    Strapping the arms down is absolutely not done here in the UK and never has been.
    I don’t understand why they do it in the US.
    But I have heard a lot of things about how awful American doctors and hospitals are.

  7. Amanda Conner Avatar
    Amanda Conner

    I’ve been using invicible scars for 2 weeks for my cesarean scar. It seems working on it. Thought anyone could share their experiences with this stuff or find it of any help

  8. Jenna Avatar

    Wondering if you took the glutamine after csection as well? And how much did you take ?

  9. Jill Avatar

    Great post! As a person who doesn’t even take tylenol, I’m not really excited about the medications in my future for c-section #3 (baby #4). This makes me feel so much better.

  10. Zartashia Avatar

    Thanks Katie for sharing these golden tips..they are really helpful.

    I have my 4th section 5 weeks ago.right within a year back to my 3rd c section..I want to ask you for some pieces of advice from your precious time.
    As I have 2 sections in one year 3rd on 3rd Feb 15 and 4th on 22 Feb 2016. Can I do scar massage on this early stage as it still sore and pain in my lower abdomen.
    My belly is too bulky. I’m using binder while walking.should it used 24 hours or just while walking. Can it (belly) flat like ever before pregnancy. I am very disappointed. As I can not take much care of myself for being alone without any helper and little kids.

    Best regards

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Hugs to you… recovery is tough! Scar massage should be ok once the incision is healed, but definitely start slow and make sure your body is ok with it. Many people wear the binder all day, though it seems most helpful when standing or walking. Another thing to consider would be seeing if you have a diastasis recti separation and doing some exercises to help correct that, as that will help your belly flatten again. ( ) Good luck!

  11. Mary Avatar

    Resistant starch has been crucial for my healing after c-section and to reestablish good flora in the colon which was disrupted from antibiotics. Unfortunately it took me almost three years of hell to figure this out. My histamine overload symtoms have greatly diminished thanks to radish juice (1/4 spicy medium radish) in carrot juice with 1/2 raw potato (for the resistant starch). The migraines and brain fog I suffered with for years have dissapeared. I’m convinced they were rooted in the inflammation in my colon. C-sections are serious business. Pharmaceutical meds, no matter how necessary at times, can have really serious consequences. Pain meds are also very hard on your liver and activate mast cells which can cause your body to overproduce histamine. My kidneys were also greatly compromised. Supporting lymphatic health has been key for me, as the so-called “side-effects” of these meds congest the lymph.

  12. Karen Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama, I have been reading and enjoying your info for a couple of years now. We use your lips chap recipe as well as many others. I know the above thread is about care after a c section and at 61 I’m way past giving birth. Actually had 3 healthy boys all vaginal. Due to some repeated endometrial thickening and fibroids over the years, I may be facing a partial hysterectomy. This type of surgery is a non vaginal procedure. In other words in order to save the cervix my Dr will make an incision just above my pelvic bone. She will actually be cutting into scar tissue from my previous tubal. I realize not having experience with this surgery that it’s not easy to give advise, however I’m just wondering if some of these same things wouldn’t help with the recovery from a hysterectomy? Seems as though they would. The only thing that I would need to change up is the bone broth, as I am a vegetarian. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Blessings to you and all you do.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I hope that you have a quick and easy recovery! I do think these same suggestions could be helpful, especially since the surgery is so similar. We also did these same things when my husband had his appendix removed and they seemed to help him as well.

  13. Jamia Avatar

    I highly recommend a pain pump such as On-Q to deliver a local anesthetic to the incision area in the days following surgery. It is installed during surgery so you must request it beforehand. I like that the medication is delivered only to the affected area rather than through the entire body. It took care of the pain and reduced the need for narcotics. They may have given me one dose of narcotics right after surgery, but I told them I didn’t need or want them when offered after that and only took naproxen for a short time on doctors’ orders. I really believe the On-Q pump helped me have a quick and comfortable recovery without any undesirable side effects narcotics would cause. I felt like eating and moving around as soon as they would let me, had good energy, and no bowel problems.

  14. Kira Avatar

    Katie, I bought the glutamine and am excited to use it is see your multiple cautions about using it and talking with dr first. I cant quite get a hold of my dr as of yet and am 1 week post surgery, anxious to use it asap. Did you continue to breastfeed while using it? I know you have to be careful about giving medical advice but can you tell me if any cautions your dr gave you?

  15. Morgan Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    I love your blog! Just wanted to ask a quick question as far as the stretch marks go. I got horrible stretch marks with my first and they have yet to heal, so I am looking for a way to help heal/reduce them. I have the recipe for both the healing salve and tiger salve to make. I am wondering how you healed yours? Did you use the Neosporin one every day? Combo of both? And did it take a long time? Just looking for some guidelines. I know you’re a busy lady, so anything you have time to respond with is helpful!

    Thank you!!!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      To keep it simple, I’d just use the neosporin one every day. The tiger salve will work too, but you shouldn’t need both. Good luck!

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