I frantically dug through my hospital bag, looking for one more outfit, hoping that I’d thrown an extra forgotten item in there. I came up empty.
Exasperated, I grabbed the maternity jeans I’d been admitted in and attempted to wrangle them on. How could jeans that were loose on me at 37 weeks pregnant, suddenly feel like I was trying to squeeze into my younger sister’s pants? I could barely sit and couldn’t believe how uncomfortable I felt.
The last thing you need when you’re in pain and trying to take care of a baby is to feel uncomfortable in your clothes. Being uncomfortable in your own clothes isn’t an uncommon experience for postpartum (pp) mothers, but add a painful incision and a tender lower belly to that, and getting dressed can be an exponentially frustrating experience.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of the helpful items I’ve found after my two C-sections.
What to Wear After a C-Section
How to Pack Items That Won’t Leave You Frustrated
The clothes that you pack for the hospital are important. You won’t be feeling for best and you want clothes to be easy. After you have your surgery, your incision will be sensitive, along with your lower abdomen.
The best thing to wear is a loose dress.
If you hate dresses, try high-waisted pants with a relaxed waist. Leggings are a no because of bulky pads/disposable underwear. Big, baggy sweatpants* also work as long as you keep the waist over your thick, disposable underwear.
On top, try nursing options that clip down.
Go with disposable panties. Though you might cringe at the thought of wearing something that you may associate with being geriatric or a potty-training toddler, they really are the best option.
If you’re nursing, wear a comfortable nursing bra for easy access. If you’re larger than a DD, choose the Kindred Bravely bra for a “busty” option.
Note: When choosing sizes, go up a size from your pre-pregnancy size. You’ll leave the hospital looking about 6 months pregnant. After a C-Section, your legs and hips swell up too.
Staying Cozy at Home
Nursing gowns are best for keeping clear of your incision. Throw on a robe to cover up if you need to.
Loungewear with high or loose waistbands can work too. Pick up some loose-fitting tops that are easy to open up or lift so you can nurse around the clock.
As far as underwear goes, choose a high-waisted, comfortable pair.
The Essential Errands
When you want to look a little more polished, leggings are a great option. Opt for ones that are for postpartum or even maternity so they aren’t as tight on your lower belly. I personally wore the Kindred Bravely Maternity & Postpartum Leggings with the full panel folded over and found that comfortable.
A flowy dress that is nursing accessible can be a quick, easy option to look a little more put together.
When It’s Time to Exercise
Wear postpartum or maternity workout leggings (not compression leggings). Or shorts that are comfortable at the waist, like this pair from Target.
At 6 weeks, laid my baby down and, miraculously, he stayed asleep. What could I do with my free moment? There were a million things, but I chose a quick workout.
Dressed in three pull-on sports bras and a tight top, I jumped on the treadmill, eager to get back into things.
With just 5 minutes left, I was focused on pushing myself a little further, when I hear crying. No. Maybe he’d settle back down.
I jumped off the treadmill about a minute later to my inconsolable baby. I couldn’t get him to settle. And quickly realized there was only one thing to do and it was under four layers of clothes.
After that, I bought this sports bra, determined to never have to rip off four layers of clothes while my baby screamed uncontrollably again.
If going back to work after having a baby wasn’t stressful enough, you also need clothes to wear. I’ve found a few items that are great for a business-casual environment. And some helpful items if you’re pumping at work.
Try pants with a stretchy waist, like these high-waisted knit pants from Express (ankle pant, bootcut pant). They have a stretchy, high waist, and feel like leggings but look like dress pants (they’re amazing). They come in XXS, XS, S, M, L, and XL, which is nice if you don’t know your exact size anymore.
Wear tops that give you quick access for pumping if you’re pumping at work.* Button-down shirts or something loose that you can lift. And a bra that you can use for pumping.
What Not to Wear After a C-Section
Jeans are not a good idea after a C-section–maternity or otherwise. You may not want to tackle jeans for a while after giving birth anyway while you wait for your body to settle back to normal, but after a c-section, they can be particularly uncomfortable for a long time.
I didn’t go back to jeans until about 5 months after each of my c-sections (and only because I had to go back to work).
Note on maternity jeans/pants: A lot of women continue to wear maternity pants after they have their babies. This seems like a great solution; unfortunately, the seam for the panel tends to rest right on your incision.
These tend to fall under comfy pants for most people these days, but not after a c-section. I remember wearing a pair at about 6 months pp. They felt fine when I put them on, but after a few hours, my entire lower belly was sore and aching.
Remember it’s not just the external scar that causes discomfort, but all of those layers that they cut through inside. You don’t want anything pressing against those tender areas.
Low Rise Pants
I once read a post that raved about low-rise jeans for maternity and postpartum. Clearly, this person had not had a c-section. Even at 1-year pp, I still have some discomfort in the area from my scar to about two inches above it. When your scar is fresh, you won’t want anything anywhere near there.
Whether you’re preparing for your C-Section or just trying to get dressed postpartum, use this list to help you find some comfortable solutions. Because no one should have to wrangle a pair of jeans after a C-Section.
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