Recovering from a cesarean section is no joke. It takes several weeks, a lot of pain, and plenty of rest. When you add in other kids, it’s even harder; a c-section recovery with a toddler in tow takes more time and comes with more discomfort.
When you leave the hospital, you have to quickly find a balance in your life as a mom with a new baby and a toddler. You also have an incision that needs to be taken care of and a lot of discomfort and soreness. Toddlers are known for their endless energy, but you can’t keep up with them.
I’ve been in your shoes three times, and it doesn’t get any easier. You simply learn tips to make life with a toddler easier after a c-section.
10 Tips for an Easier C-Section Recovery with a Toddler
After all of the years that I spent with a toddler underfoot and a new baby in arms, here are some of my favorites.
Meal Plan & Freeze Food Ahead of Time
When your baby was up all night, making pancakes won’t be on your list of things you want to do in the morning. If your partner works late, you won’t want to make dinner.
That’s why you need to make freezer meals ahead of time. I even made a few dozen banana muffins and put them into the freezer. I would take them out of the freezer the night beforehand and warm them in the toaster oven for breakfast.
Ask Friends & Family to Help
Now is an excellent time to ask for help. While I did enjoy meals delivered and extra cleaning, I appreciated all of my friends and family members who offered to take my toddler for a period. They took my kids to the park, splash pad, museums, and out to eat.
My kids enjoyed the extra attention, and I used this time to catch up on some much-needed rest.
Show Your Toddler Your Incision
Even a two-year-old is capable of understanding a boo-boo. I had a sunburn two weeks ago, and my toddler keeps asking if my back is okay. She remembers that I had a boo-boo.
Show your toddler that you have a boo-boo – your incision. Explain that you need him or her to be gentle around your abdomen for the next few weeks. You will need to remind him several times; it’s easy to forget when your child is used to jumping on you a lot.
That leads us to the next tip.
Keep A Pillow on Your Abdomen
If you’re sitting on the couch or recliner, keep a pillow on your belly or nearby. I typically used a nursing pillow, called the Boppy, and I kept it on my lap. I used it for nursing my babies or laying my babies across my lap in the Boppy. It also defended my incision from knee shots from innocent toddlers.
Take Your Pain Medicine
I highly recommend that you take your pain medicine on time and a routine. If you stay ahead of the pain, it makes your recovery a lot easier. With a toddler, you will be active; there is no way around that.
Buy Crafts, Puzzles, and a Few New Toys
I will admit that buying new items for your toddler to have after the baby arrives is a great investment. You don’t need to spend a lot of money! Grab some new art supplies, get some new chunky puzzles or a few toys that your child has wanted.
Don’t give everything at one time! Space out the new items when you might need some quiet or relaxation time.
I know that screen time is controversial for parents. Some parents refuse to give any at all, while some indulge their kids all day long.
We aren’t here to discuss the pros and cons of watching movies. I’m here to tell you that if you want to put on a movie every day so you can have some quiet time, do it. Having a baby is a significant event, and you need some time to relax.
Let Your Toddler Help
Toddler’s help often really isn’t helpful, but your child needs to remember that he is a valued member of your family.
Ask your child to bring you a diaper, even if you can easily reach it. Let your toddler help burp the baby, even if you know it won’t result in the burp needed. That’s okay! This is to include your child to help reduce the trauma associated with adding a new family member.
Let’s not forget that your toddler does love the new baby – most of the time. You want to foster that love and bonding as a family unit. If the baby needs a bottle, your toddler can help give the bottle. Most toddlers love participating and helping in any way that they can.
Cuddle As Often As You Can
Physical affection and connection are vital during this adjustment period. Since you’ll spend a lot of time holding your baby, you also need to spend time cuddling and offering physical affection to your toddler.
Isn’t it crazy how, overnight, your child now seems so much bigger? Before you had your baby, you felt as if you were still holding a baby, and once the new baby arrives, your toddler feels so much larger.
I use every opportunity to cuddle my toddlers. When I’m breastfeeding my child, I ask my toddler to sit beside me, cuddle, and maybe read a book or watch their favorite TV show. I also make sure I take it several times a day when I put the baby in a swing or give him to my husband and hold my toddler alone.
Remember that one-on-one time is vital even right now!
Take Them Outside
If the weather is beautiful outside, don’t shy away from taking your toddler and new baby outside. As long as your baby has shade and cover, a newborn can be out comfortably. Just remember they aren’t the best at regulating their temperature, so even if it feels warm to you, your baby might need a light blanket.
I love muslin blankets even in the summertime for infants.
If you have a play space outside for your toddler, let him play and watch him as you hold the baby.
Relax and Take Time for Your Toddler
It’s no doubt that a c-section recovery with a toddler can be rough at times. You need to make sure your child has plenty of activities to keep busy and remember that physical touch and connection are vital during this time. This time only lasts for a short period, so try to embrace it and see the beauty.