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  • Jordan Quinn

What to Wear for C-Section Recovery

Updated: Mar 28

Dressing Your Post C-Section Body

You may have been excited to move on from your maternity clothes... but let's not put them away just yet. Coming home after a c-section makes us all rethink our postpartum wardrobe a bit. Finding comfortable clothes that are both loose enough to not rub your incision yet also supportive enough to address that “deflated balloon full of Jell-O” feeling that is now your abdomen is a pretty tricky task. But fear not, because we're here to guide you through the labyrinth of post-C-section dressing.

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Essential Items For Your Post C-Section Wardrobe

Nursing nightgown (shop now)

Hospital Couture

We'll caveat this by saying we lived in the gowns the hospital provided, because if things get messy you can literally drop it on the floor and someone else will wash it. I was not about to create "take home laundry" for myself.

BUT I totally get that other people feel a lot better when they are wearing clothes that don't make them feel like a patient. If that's you, throw a couple of these nursing nightgowns in your hospital bag. These nightgowns are great because they allow the nurses to do all their assessments, are easy to lift for the bathroom without having to push down shorts (and therefore bend), and also provide easy access for breastfeeding or skin-to-skin cuddles. An all around winner!

High-waisted underwear for c-section recovery (shop here)

High-Waisted Underwear

Embrace high-waisted, soft-as-a-cloud panties. Honestly, you won't be able to feel them with the brick of a pad you'll be wearing, but it will feel nice when putting them on.

Look for breathable fabrics that won't irritate your sensitive skin—opt for cotton if possible—and that provide gentle support without clinging to your incision site.

And if those mesh panties feel like the right solution for the first week or two, rock them! (We did!)

High-waisted underwear for c-section recovery (shop here)

Loose-Fitting Bottoms: Hello, Flowy Pants!

Sitting will be uncomfortable, so you don't want your pants to add any more discomfort. Go for form fitted (see below) or loose and flowy. Think flowy palazzos, forgiving yoga pants, or relaxed-fit sweatpants. Just be sure that any loose pants don’t create a tripping hazard. Cropped pants or those that cinch at the ankles help with that.

Compression leggings for c-section recovery (shop here)

High-Waisted Compression

We recommend having at least one pair of compression pants in your recovery wardrobe. Compression may provide the most comfort and support as your abdominals slowly come back online. Compression shorts, biker shorts, compression leggings will provide lifting support from your pelvic floor up over your abs, and also helped our back feel more supported.

Your first 2 weeks will feel different than weeks 3-4, so having a variety of options (and being open to trying new things) will provide the support you need at different stages.

If you can't squeeze them on week 1, try them again week 3 and see if it feels better. Your body will change a lot, and it's impossible to predict your postpartum size, amount of post-surgical swelling, or weight loss, so just buy your best estimate and try them at different stages of recovery.

Loose nursing tops for c-section recovery (shop here)

Flowy Tops

There's a lot on your mind, thinking about how your squishmallow of a belly looks in tops shouldn't be one of them. Self care is sometimes just letting our body be as it is. Loose-fitting tanks, tunics, oversized tshirts, or soft button downs are the powerhorses here. Look for soft, breathable fabrics that won't cause irritation or discomfort. If you are breastfeeding or plan to do a lot of skin-to-skin cuddles, nursing tanks, button downs, or low neckline shirts will make it a breeze.

And if your version of a flowy top is just a nursing bra and a robe? Cheers. That was pretty much our first two weeks too.

Stretchy nursing bras for c-section recovery (shop here)

Stretchy, Wire-Free Bras: Your New Breast Friend

There is, a lot going on in the ta-ta department the first month postpartum. Whether you are nursing or not, stretchy nursing bras are often designed to accommodate the big swings in sizing that occur during those early postpartum weeks. There is NO predicting how large the ladies will be from week to week, so we love the fact that the above stretches up to 3 cup sizes and also comes with band extenders to accomodate a pregnant and postpartum belly, all the way back down to your normal size.

We bought one pack of 3 bras in our normal size and one the size up and we were covered for pregnancy through one year postpartum.

Stretchy nursing bras for c-section recovery (shop here)

Dresses: The One-Stop-Shop

Dresses win in the simplicity department. Grab one thing from the closet, put it over your head, and voila! You are dressed. How very adult of you.

They’re a hassle-free option, especially during the initial phase of recovery. Choose loose-fitting, soft, and stretchy dresses that don't cling to your body. It’s just a one-and-done option with no mental load of matching.

Oversized Shirts and Tunics: Cozy Chic

Oversized shirts and tunics are your cozy chic companions. And they pair brilliantly with leggings. Which we basically live in. So win-win.

We know no one is feeling “effortlessly stylish” at this point, but you will feel “dressed”.

Leggings: Your Flexible Best Friend

Leggings are like the Swiss Army knife of post-C-section wardrobes. They stretch, they move, they adapt. Find high-waisted, soft leggings that offer support without squeezing your midsection. You can comfortably stay on the couch all day or venture out for a slow stroll with no need to change.

Cardigan with pockets for c-section recovery (shop here)

Cardigan with Pockets

Pockets ladies, pockets. You do NOT want to be bending or getting up any more than needed those first few days. A loose flowy cardigan with pockets is the perfect go-to for carrying your phone or other items, regulating your hot and cold swings, and for providing a loose layer that feels more put together.

Hands-Free Footwear

Post-C-section swelling can be quite remarkable. I wore my shower flip flops out of the hospital because my feet couldn't fit in my sneakers.

The first week or two, sandals or stretchy sneakers (if winter) will probably work well for any trips you have to do (to the doctors office for example).

For your go-to sneaker in this season of life (covering both your post-surgery avoidance of bending and also putting on shoes while holding a baby) there is an amazing choice: Dr. Scholl's slip-on sneaker. Dr. Scholl's??? Yep. These are truly hands free and we lived in them for a solid year or two because you are holding that baby...a lot. Buy one pair in your go-to neutral color and one in a fun color or pattern and you'll be covered.

Reminder: you are in transition

Your body just did something incredible. And went through something incredibly hard. We know it’s easier said than done to “embrace the changes” so instead we’ll say “give yourself a break, and a breather”.

Your body is doing exactly what it is supposed to do—it's all part of the journey. Allow yourself grace and time to adapt to your "current normal". It is just a phase.

If we can encourage you to do one thing when getting dressed, it's to thank your body. Thank it for all it has gone through. Give it some time to rest, to heal, to recover. Dress it lovingly to support it and to make it comfortable during a time with many discomforts. And thank it again. You've both been through a lot, and you both deserve little comforts wherever you can integrate them.

Conclusion: Dress For Healing

Getting dressed is something that should feel like a return to normalcy, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming or defeating when it is hard (things not fitting, not looking "good", not feeling like yourself).

Remember, it's okay to laugh, cry, and celebrate the victories, big or small. And if you’re thinking “WTF no one told me it would be like this?!? Is it like this for everyone else???” Yep, it is. We’ve been there too. So we’ve started talking more about what c-section recovery is like and what helps.

So go forth, rock those flowy pants, own those oversized shirts, and conquer the world—and by world we mean your bed, then the couch, then maybe venturing outside. Because there’s no rush to recover, there’s just listening to your body and giving it what it needs. You deserve it.


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