I know it seems obvious to rest but we need to talk about this. There are some things you really shouldn’t do after giving birth. Your body has just done one of the most remarkable things it will ever do: grow another human being. Mama, you created life. You should not hop right back into your old life thinking you’re fine to do so. Recovery takes time and you deserve it. I seriously encourage you to enjoy this moment, because trust me — the time will come when your family cannot get your name out of their mouth and will need you for what seems like EVERYTHING! Postpartum recovery is for preventative measure, Mama. We don’t want any problems!
Real Talk? Here’s How Long It Takes to Recover After Giving Birth
Your postpartum recovery won’t be just a few days. Fully recovering from pregnancy and childbirth can take months. It is possible to feel mostly recovered by 6-8 weeks, but it may take longer than this to feel like yourself again. People don’t really like to talk about what happens after giving birth, but I think we should, because it can be overwhelming. During this time, your hormones will fluctuate. You may not be thinking clearly and be more emotional. Give yourself time for this to pass.
However, if at any time after childbirth you think about hurting yourself or your baby, tell someone.
During this time, you may feel as though your body has turned against you. Try not to get frustrated. Remember that your body is not aware of your timelines and expectations. The best thing you can do for it is rest, eat well, and give yourself a break.
During the first six weeks, pay attention to your body. You will be tired and focused on your baby, but try to notice changes with your own body. Remember that you also need to take care of yourself, too. This is very important as you heal. As you begin to feel better, resist the temptation to do more. Overdoing things at this point can set you back in your recovery. Concentrate on nourishing your body with good foods, drinking plenty of water (especially if you are breastfeeding), and getting enough rest.
What NOT to Do After Having a Baby
There are many things you can look forward to doing after birth, like sleeping on your stomach again or eating pineapple. However, there are things you should avoid after giving birth. One thing you should not do after giving birth is put anything in your vagina. Depending on your birth experience, you may be surprised by how much bleeding you have. It’s possible you had vaginal repair, so those areas will be healing. When you use internal period products, like menstrual cups or tampons, bacteria can form and cause infection in these wounds. The bleeding after birth lasts between 2 and 6 weeks, so use pads during this time or until your doctor tells you it’s safe to do otherwise.
Other things not to do include:
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
We can build these things up in our minds, and just like a birth plan can go out the window. Whether it’s breastfeeding vs formula, whether it’s how you look vs your expectations of how you’d look…. give yourself grace.
Don’t Even Think About the Baby Weight Just Yet
Our postpartum bodies can feel and look like something out of a nightmare. But it is completely unrealistic to think we should look anything like we did 9 months previously – give yourself some time! And give yourself a BREAK! You just made a person. That is way more amazing than squeezing lumpless-ly into a bikini. You NEED healthy calories right now, to heal, to make breastmilk, to replace the blood you lost, to give yourself the energy to take care of your new family member.
Once you’re adjusted to new mom life and healed, you can start trying to lose the baby weight… but this is not the time. Go ahead and enjoy a burger.
Don’t Lift Anything Really Heavy
You are still in the postpartum phase, therefore, your muscles still have to recover. It’s not just about giving your body time to rest. Mama, you could actually do some damage by lifting something heavy so soon after childbirth. Your muscles need time to recover.
Don’t Get Discouraged if You’re Breastfeeding
Don’t assume that breastfeeding will be like second nature to you. It takes time, patience, and practice. Lots of practice. Don’t be disappointed if your baby doesn’t latch on straight away. Most women don’t know what they are doing the first time around. If you are concerned about being able to properly breastfeed your baby then you should consider taking a breastfeeding class. These classes are not only informative but they will show you skills that need to successfully breastfeed your baby without feeling the need to quit.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”
Like to visitors, or obligations, or requests from others. Everyone you know will probably want to visit, especially your closest family and friends. You may not have the heart to say no, but it’s what’s best for your new family.
Even though you may not feel like it’s a big deal, it will put added stress on you and your baby. This was something (among others) that I struggled with a lot after each baby. And it’s one of the things that prompted me to write “The Girlfriends Guide To Motherhood.”
Don’t Wear Tight Clothes
As your body is trying to get back to normal, you will be sweating and leaking all kinds of things, the last thing you need at this point is tight clothes. Not only will this be hard on stitches, SIS — you have earned a month in your sweats and pjs. Enjoy it!
Don’t Forget How Important Sleep Is
Taking care of a tiny person really is taxing those first few months and you will undoubtedly get used to being up all night. Mama, sleep when you can. Choose sleep over the doing the dishes or even taking a shower.
Don’t Stop Your Prenatal Vitamins
I know they’re called PREnatals but that doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need these same nutrients anymore POSTnatal! Your body is working overtime now to heal and get back to normal
Don’t Eat a Bunch of Junk Food (It’ll Make You Feel Worse)
Although keeping your baby nourished is your main focus after giving birth, nourishing your own body is also very important. If you’re breastfeeding, your body also needs between 450 and 500 extra calories a day to support milk production. Depending on your weight, this may mean you need to aim to consume 2,500 calories each day. Some ways to support your nutrition during the postpartum period include eating whole foods, like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Don’t Rely on Dr. Google
This might seem like odd advice coming from an article you likely found… on google… but if you suspect something is wrong with you or your baby, googling it is a bad idea for two reasons:
- If there is nothing wrong, it will still freak you out
- If there is something wrong it won’t fix the problem
Talk to your doctor, talk to your mom, talk to friends that have kids – but don’t rely on Google.
Don’t Strain During Potty Breaks (Try Stool Softeners)
You’ve done enough straining. Straining can cause bleeding, damage stitches (or healing tissues), and it will outright hurt!
Don’t Swim Just Yet
Sitting in a lot of water can cause water to go “up” and can take bacteria with it. Avoid infection by not getting in a pool or a full bathtub.
Don’t Jump Back into Your Exercise Routine (If It’s Strenuous)
Even if you were in great shape pre-baby, you still need to go slow and let your body heal! You can start light exercise once your doctor has given you the OK – but jumping into a cardio routine too soon puts you at risk for bleeding.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
With all the demands of newborn life, you may feel isolated and overwhelmed. If you have a partner, they are hopefully playing an equal role in taking care of your baby, but they may not be able to do it all. Reach out to your family and friends or consider joining a local parent group. If you have the means, you may consider hiring a postpartum doula or another professional for added support.
Don’t Forget to Show Dad Some Attention
You may feel like you don’t have time, but try your hardest to make some. That might mean setting aside half an hour at the end of the day to chat in bed. Or to have breakfast together. Maybe even going for a walk once a week. Being a new parent is difficult. Both of you are likely to make mistakes – to snap, to argue, to be occasionally distant – because both of you are dealing with something challenging and new. Part of maintaining a healthy relationship is making time to have fun together – so you might like to think about putting aside some time to do just that. This can include having someone come over to help with baby while you two get some alone time, when you’re ready of course. There is no time line on when to do this.
Don’t Try to Do All The Things During Baby’s Nap
I know, it seems like there’s a million things to do once you get home with your new baby. There’s laundry to be folded, dishes to be washed, and beds to be made. It may seem best suited to do while baby is asleep, but those things can wait until you’re feeling better!
For now, when you would have a minute break to clean the house, just rest instead! You’ll be happy you did. A well-rested mama is a happy mama!
7 Things to Keep in Mind During Your Postpartum Recovery
Pay attention to your body in recovery after birth. Your body will feel different and there are a few things you may experience that are normal and some that are alarming. Do not be afraid to contact your doctor if you feel concerned. Here is a list of possible symptoms and things to do during your postpartum recovery:
The cramps after giving birth are known as afterbirth pains, or afterpains. They are caused by contractions of your uterus as it returns to its prepregnancy size after you have your baby. Cramping will be most intense for the first day or two after giving birth, but it should taper off around the third day.
2. Swollen Feet
After childbirth, the body needs time to recover. Eating properly, resting, and sleeping more than usual will help the body to return to a healthy state. Try the following home remedies can help to reduce postpartum swollen feet after giving birth by increasing circulation: drink water, elevate your feet, compression socks, avoid salt, drink less caffeine or improve circulation with a postpartum massage!
Hemorrhoids after giving birth are common, but will usually go away on their own. Depending on their size, location, and severity, this can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. There are several things you can do to speed healing time and reduce discomfort such as: drink water, avoid straining, adding fiber to your diet, keep the area clean and apply a cold pack.
4. Walking and Exercising
While you may not be able to exercise much at the beginning of your postpartum recovery, you should keep moving as much as possible following childbirth. Try to start walking a bit as soon as you are cleared to do so. It can help relieve symptoms like fatigue, constipation, and gas
5. Back Pain
You’ve just finished the mother of all workouts, so it’s normal to feel some muscle soreness throughout your body following birth. And you may feel the aftereffects of your hard work for a few days. You can expect to feel especially sore anywhere you held a lot of tension during labor, such as in your arms, back, neck or jaw.
Taking a long soak in the bath after giving birth may have to wait for a bit. However, physicians agree that nearly all women who deliver – whether by cesarean or vaginal – can take a sitz bath. A warm, shallow (like 2-3″ of water) soak for up to 20 minutes in the bathtub for the area between the anus and vagina.
7. Postpartum Baby Blues
Most new moms experience something that’s often referred to as the “baby blues.” Women with baby blues may experience mild anxiety, irritability, or feelings of depression. Other symptoms include trouble sleeping and feeling weepy for no reason. The baby blues can last a few days or up to two weeks and usually resolve without treatment.
If you have more severe symptoms that last longer, then you may be struggling with postpartum depression (PPD).
How to Take Care of Your Body After Delivery
Many things are happening in your body right after you have a baby. During pregnancy, your body changed a lot. It worked hard to keep your baby safe and healthy. Now that your baby is here, your body is changing again and how your body changes in the weeks after birth will look. Some of these changes are physical, like your breasts getting full of milk. Others are emotional, like feeling extra stress.
Many discomforts and body changes after giving birth are normal. But sometimes they’re signs or symptoms of a health problem that needs treatment. Go to all of your postpartum checkups, even if you’re feeling fine.
Fact vs Fiction: How Long You Have to Stay in the House After Giving Birth
Deciding when you leave the house after giving birth should not be planned and written in stone in advance before you have your baby. It’s very much dependent on a few factors such as:
- What type of birth you had
- How you physically feel
- How you mentally feel
If you have a C-section walking long distances may be tricky for the first few weeks. If you have a vaginal birth you may still feel extremely tired and sore a few days after birth. On the other hand, a short walk to get some fresh air may be just what you feel like a few days after giving birth.
We All Have Questions. After 5 Sweet Babies, Here’s What I Think
When can I start doing household work after delivery?
It all depends on the delivery! For a c-section, you will not have maximum strength until around 4-5 weeks postpartum, but it is safe to walk, go up and downstairs and do very light housework, but only when you’re feeling up to it!
Mothers who have delivered vaginally will also want to avoid heavy lifting but can do light housework as long as it doesn’t tire you out or put your body at risk. For the first several days, take things extra slow and be sure to get help from friends and family.
Are there any restrictions after giving birth?
Regardless of your delivery method, you should proceed with caution and make your highest priority caring for you and your baby. Focus on managing your postpartum body changes and all the painful and uncomfortable things you may feel after giving birth. Be patient with yourself and allow plenty of time for healing before focusing on your surroundings!
What are afterbirth pains?
Afterbirth pains are belly cramps you feel as your uterus (womb) shrinks back to its regular size after pregnancy. The cramps should go away in a few days.
How long should I rest after birth?
Rest whenever you can. Delivering a baby is hard work and you probably weren’t able to sleep much in the hospital. The first few weeks after delivery are an important time for you to rest whenever you can.
When is it safe to be intimate again postpartum?
There’s no definitive timeline that says how long you should wait to have sex after giving birth. However, most doctors recommend women wait four to six weeks following a vaginal delivery. After your doctor has given you the all clear to resume sexual activities, you may still need to take things slowly. You may also need to wait longer if you have a perineal tear.
Either way, Mama — your baby’s finally here, and you’re thrilled — but you’re also exhausted, uncomfortable, on an emotional roller coaster, and wondering whether you’ll ever fit into your jeans again. While recovering from delivery can be a lot to handle, things will get easier. Just keep in mind our list of what not to do after giving birth and before you know it, you will be able to fully focus on enjoying your new baby!