9 Things You Shouldn’t Rush Postpartum
Working out, pumping, sex: your mind is ready, but is your body?
The chaotic lifestyle changes that being a new mom can bring may feel overwhelming, and we know you’re ready to get back to doing the things that make you feel, well, like you again.
So how many days do you need to rest after delivery? It depends on what you want to do! From swimming to showering, to rekindling intimacy and savoring that first meal after birth, we break down some of the most common activities new moms are eager to return to and when they can expect to get back at it. But like anything, each body is different, so make sure to check with your doctor first!
When can I…
1. Work out postpartum?
Giving birth to a baby is in itself an intense workout, but after nine months of swollen ankles, you may be wondering: How soon after delivery can I exercise? When can I start running after birth? How soon after delivery can I do yoga?
According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s safe to start doing postpartum exercises within just a few days of giving birth (or when you feel ready and are no longer in pain), as long as the birth was vaginal and straightforward without complications. As with most scenarios, if you had a C-section or delivery complications, you’ll want to wait a bit longer and check with your doctor before getting started. Activities like pelvic tilts and kegel exercises are great, safe and low-impact ways to get started. But there’s also absolutely no rush to work out after having a baby—and if you’re too strenuous too soon, you could do real damage to your body. Make sure to take your time and get some rest before heading back to the gym. Learn more about childbirth and your pelvic floor, including exercises tips and what to look out for from the Vagina Whisperer.
2. Have sex postpartum?
Postpartum intimacy is an important piece in helping partners reconnect after baby is born, and sex after pregnancy is one of the biggest topics new moms have questions about. So how long should you wait to have sex after giving birth? At least 4-6 weeks—and not sooner—according to Dr. Shree Chanchani, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Health. Doing so earlier poses a risk of infection in the uterus because the cervix is still dilated, Chanchani says.
Many moms are also still going through hormonal changes, which can lead to a decrease in libido and estrogen, and cause vaginal dryness. If you do want to get intimate earlier, make sure your doctor gives you an exam and a green light first. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of other ways to meaningfully connect in the meantime. Read our expert tips on love and marriage after baby here. At the end of the day, it’s when you feel ready.
3. Fly postpartum?
There’s no hard-and-fast rule on when it’s OK for new moms to jet set again—it all depends on your individual recovery. In the first six weeks following pregnancy, there is an increased risk of blood clots, so some doctors recommend waiting a few weeks before flying again, just to be safe. If there was extensive vaginal stitching, a C-section or other complications, your body may also be sore and not like sitting in a cramped airplane for a few hours. If you’re feeling up for it, however, just make sure to take it easy and drink plenty of water.
4. Eat postpartum?
This one is easy! There aren’t really any restrictions on when you can eat after giving birth—and for many moms that first meal after baby is the best thing they’ve ever eaten, even if it’s just a sub sandwich. Some experts recommend nutrient-rich and energy-boosting foods like fatty fish and lean meats; green, non-starchy vegetables; low-fat dairy; whole grains; and lots of fluids like water and fruit juice—making sure to get a wholesome, balanced meal. And don’t be surprised if you are a LOT more hungry than you were a few weeks ago. Giving birth, recovering, and nursing are extremely strenuous on the body, so be kind to yourself if you develop a new milkshake habit.
Still, there are a few things you should limit your intake of while breastfeeding, like too much mercury-rich fish or alcohol (though one to two drinks within a 24-hour period are generally OK if you wait 2 to 4 hours before breastfeeding!). Don’t worry about losing weight—focus on keeping you and baby healthy and heartily fed.
5. Swim in a pool postpartum?
Swimming is a great, low-impact activity for new moms. While some people are able to hop in the water just a few days after giving birth, it’s recommended you wait about 2 to 4 weeks while your lochia—the vaginal discharge after birth—completely tapers off to avoid an infection. This process usually begins around a week after childbirth. If you’ve had a C-section, it may take closer to around three weeks before it’s recommended to swim again, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
6. Pump postpartum?
You’ve had your baby—now you need to know when to start pumping breast milk. It’s typically a good idea to wait about a month before pumping regularly, though there are some reasons that moms may work it into their routine full-time sooner, such as working to boost their milk supply. However, on average, during those first weeks nursing on demand allows your baby to boost and establish your supply to match his or her needs. Then, when your supply has regulated a bit, you can start adding in pumping sessions. Need more help? Scheduling a visit with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® can be a very impactful in-person experience for moms who find themselves needing to unexpectedly pump right away, teaching them about when and why to pump.
7. Take a bath or shower postpartum?
After going through the marathon that is childbirth, few things sound better than being able to take a long soak in a warm bath. However, according to Northwestern Medicine’s Department of General Obstetrics and Gynecology, new moms should wait at least three days before taking a bath after giving birth, and you should avoid using bubble bath or oils right away. Northwestern Medicine also recommends showering as needed after birth, particularly as a means of soothing tender and swollen breasts. Just be sure not to use scented soaps right away and to pat any incision sites fully dry.
8. Wear a girdle postpartum?
There are multiple types of postpartum wraps that may be appealing to new moms, such as belly wraps, abdominal compression binders, waist trainers and even corsets. Some of these are medical devices used to help women feel more comfortable as they recover and adjust to their new bodies, while others are more for appearance. If your doctor gives you a thumbs up, new moms can use postpartum wraps immediately.
Many new moms swear by wraps and girdles to help their postpartum bodies feel normal again, particularly because they help reign-in your weakened stomach muscles and extra skin—providing the security and support you need post-baby. This is especially true for moms who’ve had a C-section because of the extra abdominal recovery support they provide.
It’s recommended that those moms wear wraps for a few hours at a time each day to get used to the feel, then wear it as much as possible for 30 to 60 days. Be careful not to wrap yourself too tight, and if you have an infection or other delivery-related complications, hold-off until fully healed.
9. Start birth control postpartum?
Even though you’ve just had a baby, you can still get pregnant again right away. If you want to use an intrauterine device (IUD) as your birth control method after delivery, experts say the timing is critical! Generally, it’s recommended an IUD is inserted almost immediately after delivery (post-placenta)—as soon as 10 minutes after childbirth. If not immediately, it’s recommended women then wait about six weeks.
Want help adjusting to postpartum life? Check out our blog for more new-mom resources!