One thing I was totally looking forward to after having my first daughter was wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes. Thanks to my friends who’d done all this before though, they warned me that I wouldn’t just suddenly be able to slip right back into those garments.
I didn’t plan on my first c-section, which caught me a little off guard. But thankfully, I’d packed my favorite maternity pants and pajamas to take with me. My husband could also bring things from home, but I’d have chosen something else.
So this post is for you, whether you’re planning that c-section or for you to be prepared fully should things go crazy and you need to have one.
What Kind of Clothes Are Post C-Section Clothes?
You’re probably wondering what things would be considered c-section clothes. Can’t you just wear your maternity stuff? Well, yes and no. See, some clothes from your pregnancy stash aren’t going to be useful to you after your c-section. They may make you feel hot or perhaps impede your breastfeeding efforts.
So while you might very well be able to bring along those things that you relied on during your pregnancy, here are some points to consider when it comes to ALL of your clothing post-c-section:
- Breathable materials are best. These keep you cool, plus they allow for better flow for your incision area.
- Compression or support clothing can really help, especially in the tender area around your incision.
- Ease of breastfeeding is another factor for your selection. Do you want to have a struggle when the baby wants to eat?
- Don’t forget about buttons, latches, and ties. If it’s overcomplicated, stay away.
Remember, it will take anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks for your uterus to return to its standard size. Prepare yourself by taking clothes to the hospital that will accommodate your comfort while still looking pregnant, and back a few extras I’ll discuss below for a c-section situation, even if you’re not planning on one.
You don’t want to make your husband run out of a compression belt, right? Remember when you sent him out for tampons and pads during your last period, and he returned with the wrong size and brand? Exactly.
Whatever the Weather
By the way, I want to touch upon something crucial here. For my first daughter, it was April. It was still chilly outside where we lived in China. So I had clothes to keep me warm in layers.
My second daughter was born in July, and if I could have walked around without clothes, I would have because no one in that country cranks up the air conditioning as much as I like. Still, I wanted pajama pants because that’s how I’m personally comfortable. I’m even wearing pajama pants while I type this now. Some things never change!
So, consider the above points for comfort, compression, breathability, ease of breastfeeding, ease of wearing, and the weather where you are too.
What You Should Wear After a C-Section While in the Hospital
In China, I was given hospital clothes that, while ugly as sin, were very comfortable. These consisted of a long-sleeved button-down pajama shirt and matching drawstring pants. I loved the pants actually. I even used them once I was home because they were so cozy.
But of course, I didn’t want to spend almost a week in the hospital wearing the same clothes. In China, they won’t let you shower afterward unless you use a particular patch. My dad wasn’t sure why that was either because, in the US, they remove your bandages soon after. He suspects maybe because the water there isn’t clean, which might have something to do with it.
I was also given a belly wrap. I’d have chosen something better, but I was grateful for it. It certainly wasn’t like the awesome ones I’ve seen on Amazon (see below), but it did help.
Additionally, you’ll want something you won’t feel embarrassed wearing when you leave the hospital. It’s one thing to be stuck in the hospital bed, but when it’s time to go, you want to look human again. I had a maternity tracksuit that I’d packed for my first c-section, which was perfect. It was sporty, comfy, and breathable.
I was even more prepared for my second c-section since I knew more of what to expect. Though, as I mentioned, it was July and hot. So no tracksuit for me. Instead, I brought along a comfortable summer maternity/breastfeeding dress that my brother and his wife had sent as a gift. So I looked really fashionable, was quickly able to breastfeed, was comfortable, and it concealed the wrap I was wearing underneath.
For your time inside the hospital, think comfortable. And also, think logically. I am so grateful I brought my ugliest panties along for the journey. They give you pads because the lochia flows out and guess what? Just like your period, you’ll have leaks. My advice here is to buy a bunch of them and reserve the nicer ones for when you get home, and the flow slows down a bit.
Also, get good pads. You can’t use tampons until your doctor checks you out after six weeks. By that time, the lochia will have stopped, and you won’t need to worry about pads or tampons until your first period returns.
Best Clothes to Wear After Your C-Section
Ok, ladies! Now comes the fun part. Let’s go shopping! I only wish I’d had access to some of the things I’ve found for you below. But I’m happy to be your shopping partner to help you get stocked up for your post-c-section wardrobe.
You can’t return to your regular clothes immediately after the c-section. Here is how long you should wait.
Now, some of these things might very well be in your maternity wardrobe already. If so, you can happily add them to your hospital bag or prepare them for when you return. Others you’ll want to get to ensure your comfort because, let’s be honest here …you’re going to be a bit sore for 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery.
Belly Binders, Wraps, or Recovery Belts
I’m starting with this one because it’s so important. You’ll hear about lots of these bands that wrap around your waist. They help guard the incision so you’re not yowling in pain when something brushes up against your midsection (like the baby, for example), and it helps put gentle compression on the area to guide your body back to shape.
These are NOT the same as corsets or girdles. You want a postpartum belly wrap, binder, or recovery belt. NOT a postpartum girdle. They might seem the same, but the only thing they have in common is that they go around your waist.
The differences are that your doctor or midwife will encourage the use of belly wraps to give you extra support. This help compresses the area and reduces swelling while helping ease your post-c-section pains. You wear this for a short term, during the recovery period, before you go back for that checkup in 6 weeks. By then, you should be done wearing it.
But those postpartum waist trainers, girdles, and corsets bind to the extreme and push your organs, bones, and muscles into awkward places. They don’t help restore your core but rather make it weaker.
To help you ensure you don’t pick something that could harm you, here are my top 3 belly wraps that are safe for you to wear after your c-section.
I’ve chosen these because they aren’t waist trainers. These are merely designed to add gentle compression after your c-section.
Picotee Women Postpartum Belly Wrap Band
This one is lightweight, breathable, and weighs less than an iPhone. I know that sounds like an odd statement, but after that c-section, everything feels heavy, and that’s a great selling point. Also, very breathable and functional; it has just what you need to help your recovery without squeezing you like a python.
Trademark Supplies Abdominal Binder
With a plush-foam, breathable design, this belly binder was made for c-sections, not to mention other abdominal surgeries. It’s not here to squeeze the daylights out of you; it looks straightforward to adjust to a comfortable fit made for you.
BRABIC Seamless Postpartum Belly Band Wrap
When you need to go out or need a more seamless appearance, this band has the power to keep your secrets while keeping you secure. The seamless design offers compression in a sleek style, so it will go well under those breastfeeding dresses when you’re ready to go out with the baby.
Funny story…in China, the sizes are completely different. An ‘L’ is not what we know it here in the states. Needless to say, I chose a package of ‘L’ underwear during my pregnancy that was anything but L upon opening.’ In fact, it looked like a small. Thanks, China, for making me feel fat.
Anyway, once we sorted that out, I found comfortable cotton underwear that I wore until they had holes in them, reserving them for my periods much later. These were very comfortable, but if I had found any of the following while in China, I’d have been thrilled.
Can I be honest? I want these right now for my monthly messes. These are brilliant ideas to take with you to the hospital because they’ll make you feel less gross. And they absorb everything, so you don’t have to deal with pad bulk. They’re also designed to look a bit sexy. So it’s like an adult diaper but with a sultry design. I’d have loved these after my c-sections!
Now some of you may prefer mesh panties after your c-section. These are made from polyester and spandex, offering stretch that will leave you comfortable while keeping things breathable. You want something that allows for freedom of fresh air down there. Plus, it is high-waisted, so it will cover up the incision and add some extra buffer between you and the belly band.
Annenmy Women’s High Waist Cotton Underwear
I personally preferred cotton underwear after my c-section. So I’ve found you a set of them in bright, fun colors! What’s not to love about cotton softness? The high-waisted design is super comfortable during your post-c-section days too.
Bonus: Hybrid Underwear and Belly Wrap
I just wanted to pop this one on here too. It’s a c-section panty designed by a post-c-section mom and a medical team. It combines the underwear and the binding of a compression belt in one. So if you’re in a hot climate or don’t want to wear layers for whatever reason, this one garment can help.
Your pajamas need to be the most comfortable because you’re basically going to be in them for a good month. Between breastfeeding and recovering, these will be your go-to clothes at home. So make sure they look presentable when visitors come to see the baby.
I wish my pajamas in China looked like the ones I’ve found for you! Well, the first item is a pair of pajama pants that look almost identical to a pair I had. I also had a pair of maternity yoga pants that were sent to me as a gift, and I wore both interchangeably.
HDE Cotton Pajama Pants
As I just mentioned, these were identical to a pair I owned. I wore them to death. Literally. They had holes in them by the time we were getting ready to leave China, so I had to throw them away. I always favored black pajama bottoms because when those leaks happen (and they will), they won’t ruin the pants forever.
Drawstring designs are great, too, because as you lose weight, you can adjust the size of the strings.
Ekouaer Layered Maternity & Nursing Pajama Capri Set
This one I found is so cute! I wish I’d had this. It’s made from cotton and has a pull closure that makes breastfeeding easy. The waistband is also adjustable, which allows it to shrink along with you as you lose weight. You can even start wearing this while you’re pregnant. This is great for those of you that want short sleeves.
Molliya Cotton Maternity Nursing Pajama Set
And for those of you that are a bit fancy, I found this one. It’s also made from cotton, but it has cute lace trim. If you’re used to dressing up for bed to inspire your husband, you’ll love this. It has a flowing style that helps hide those areas that are a work in progress, too, so you won’t scowl at yourself in the mirror. Click here to check out more about this one.
Pants, Jeans, and Bottoms
For pants, I highly recommend that you stick with your maternity items on this. They’ve already got the adjustable bands in there to move with you as you decrease in size. I wore my maternity jeans for months after I had both babies. It made me feel comfortable and stylish while allowing me to conceal my belly until I got my body back.
If you are enduring a change of seasons, perhaps going into summer, and only have your maternity clothes, I suggest looking for maternity shorts or elastic-waisted skirts. You can get the skirts just about anywhere, though Amazon has a great selection. I couldn’t pick only one. Look at these! They’re all too adorable for words.
The same is true of leggings and other cotton pants. Leggings provide plenty of stretches. You can also find some on Amazon that do the compression thing for you. These would be great with an oversized t-shirt.
Mothers Essentials makes a high-waisted pair of leggings that add gentle compression and provide support. Leading Lady makes one that folds down so you can happily wear it even long after you’ve recovered anytime you feel like wearing leggings.
Nursing Tops And Tanks
Now you need cool tops to go with all that. Nursing tops and tanks make it easy to breastfeed without fumbling around or showing off more than you want the world to see. Here are a few that stood out to me because of their cute designs and ease of opening.
Smallshow Women’s Maternity Nursing Tank Top
Perfect for summer, this willowy tank top allows for plenty of flexibility. It has a double layer, so you don’t have to pull down the neckline, making breastfeeding a snap. Also, it comes in many colors and patterns that suit any style.
3venturers Women’s Maternity Nursing Tops
This one also has a double layer to make breastfeeding discreet, though I love the sexy neckline. It’s classy and ideal for meeting up with friends. It gives you a stylish look that doesn’t scream, “I just had a baby!” Definitely good for embracing your inner fashionista.
With a smart lift-up design, this shirt gives you a comfy-casual style that will go great over those maternity jeans. The large buttons on the side make it look less like a nursing top and more like something you’d be likely to pick, even if you weren’t a new mom.
Forgive me, please, but when it comes to dresses, I swoon. My husband has had to admonish me more than a million times whenever we go shopping because I literally stop in every single window display and “ooooh” and “ahhhh” over the things I like.
“I’m not buying you another dress! I just bought you one!”
“Yes, but it wasn’t RED. This one is red.”
* husband rolls eyes so hard he falls over and needs medical attention *
I kid, I kid. Well, only about the medical attention thing. He does get after me a fair bit. But would you look at these dresses on Amazon? I can’t pick only a handful of them. To me, dresses are incredibly personal. And they have so many styles that fit all our flittering moods.
There are flowing ones, long ones, short ones, tropical ones…the list goes on and on. Basically, choose a dress that matches your tastes and also allows for easy nursing access. Because you don’t want to be hiking that thing up to feed your hungry baby, I can assure you of that.
Another thing…many of these can be worn long after you’ve recovered and even after you stop breastfeeding so they are a smart choice!
Final Thoughts on Post C-Section Clothes
When it comes to what to wear after a c-section, you can utilize many things you wore during your pregnancy. However, you’ll likely need a few more items to round your wardrobe. Choosing items made of comfortable, breathable material that can be adjusted to work with your dwindling size are your best bets. This will allow you to wear them long after you’ve gotten back down to size.
If you’re like me, you’ll likely wear them even when you don’t need to anymore, like with pajamas. I loved those! For other items, you can put them in your closet and wait it out until you have another baby if you choose.
If you’re on the fence about having another one, keep those clothes until you’re sure you will not have another child. You can give them to expecting friends, or if they’re done too, you can donate them to a homeless shelter to help a new mom going through a rough time getting back on her feet.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.