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Whether your c-section was scheduled or unexpected, the recovery process is certainly different than with a vaginal birth. Letting your mind, body, and spirit heal after a c-section is crucial to your overall well-being — and the well-being of your family. Luckily, there are certain steps you can take to have a smoother recovery.

Because a c-section is a major surgery, it’s important to take care of yourself in the days and weeks following your child’s birth. If you labored prior to your c-section, you might also be recovering from a dilated cervix, pushing (causing soreness, stretching, and swelling) — along with mental and emotional exhaustion.

In addition, many women have long imagined giving birth naturally. When they don’t or can’t, it can cause them to feel like they did something wrong or that they’re inadequate. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. C-sections are a beautiful and safe way to bring your baby into the world. As one of my midwives said after my c-section, “Some babies are meant to be pushed and some are meant to be lifted.”

No matter the reason for your c-section, recovering fully will benefit you in the long-term and allow you to be at your best even sooner. That’s why we put together the top tips for recovering from a c-section — emotionally, physically, and mentally.