If you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery, you should be able to start exercising again soon after the baby is born. Usually, it is safe to begin exercising a few days after giving birth—or as soon as you feel ready.
It may not seem like much, but taking a short walk can help tremendously during your postpartum recovery. “I encourage patients to be getting up and walking around almost immediately after delivery,” Prager says. “Even if it's a 10-minute walk around the block, it can be extremely helpful for the healing process.
If you had an uncomplicated pregnancy and vaginal delivery, it's generally safe to begin exercising a few days after giving birth or as soon as you feel ready.
Until your six-week postpartum check up, you shouldn't be doing any serious exercise, says Amy Gildner, an orthopaedic physiotherapist and certified pelvic floor physiotherapist at West End Mamas in Toronto. “It's definitely a time to rest and repair,” she says.
If you haven't already and you're feeling up for it, you should be able to resume a light workout schedule—think walks and stretches—about two weeks postpartum. Just remember to take it slow and avoid trying new things right now.
The risk of having a complication after delivery is highest during the first two weeks after delivery. But waiting will also give your body time to heal. In addition to postpartum discharge and vaginal tears, you might experience fatigue, vaginal dryness, pain and low sexual desire.
As soon as you feel ready and your healthcare provider gives you the green light, you're clear to start low-impact activity, such as daily walking and pelvic floor exercises.
“Most women take about six weeks to completely heal after having a vaginal delivery,” Goist says. “This includes any vaginal tearing and the uterus shrinking back to a normal size.” With that in mind, she says doctors typically recommend taking it easy during this time.
While six weeks has long been the traditional timeline for rest and recuperation after a birth, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends ongoing postpartum care from birth to 12 weeks. Six weeks is also the standard recovery time allotted for childbirth-related short-term disability leave.
For the first couple of days after giving birth, you'll be able to feel the top of your uterus near your belly button. In a week, your uterus will be half the size it was just after you gave birth. After two weeks, it will be back inside your pelvis. By about four weeks, it should be close to its pre-pregnancy size.
Usual activities such as walking, climbing the stairs and light housework are safe, but do not lift heavy objects for approximately six weeks. As with a vaginal delivery, we recommend waiting at least three weeks before having intercourse.
Don't put anything into the vagina
No matter how you feel, you should wait until your doctor clears you to put anything into your vagina. This usually occurs around your 6-week postpartum checkup. Why? Well, the first reason is because of the risk of infection.
The first six weeks postpartum are emotionally and physically challenging, which means healing and rest are at the top in the priority list. However, practicing gentle mobility exercises (if you so wish to) prior to the 6 week mark can help with recovery and re-establish good breathing mechanics and muscle activation.
Experts recommend that new moms get at least seven hours. While this study provides valuable insight into the importance of sleep, be patient with you and your baby in the postpartum period. Consider asking for help, sleeping when your baby sleeps, and forgoing bed sharing to optimize your sleep schedule.
Sleep deprivation can last for several weeks, or even months, with some moms logging in only three to four hours per night. But, how much sleep do new moms need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 sleep between seven and nine hours per night.
But many first-time parents find that after the first month of parenthood, it can actually get more difficult. This surprising truth is one reason many experts refer to a baby's first three months of life as the “fourth trimester.” If months two, three, and beyond are tougher than you expected, you're not alone.
By waiting to give the newborn the first bath, studies show the newborn is better able to stabilize his or her blood sugar and temperature.
Driving after having a baby
There is no rule or legal requirement about when you can start driving again after giving birth vaginally. But it is best to wait until any medication is out of your system, you're not in pain and you feel comfortable and confident before you get behind the wheel.
Exercise can help to tone stomach muscles and burn calories (Evenson et al 2014, Amorim Adegboye et al 2013). You can do light exercise like walking and stretching even in the early weeks after having your baby .
Your doctor will be making sure that you are healing as expected. By 6 weeks postpartum, your uterus should also have returned to its normal size – about the size of a grapefruit. If you are due for a pelvic exam, or if you had a complicated delivery or episiotomy, you can expect a pelvic exam.
Expect it to take around six weeks for your uterus to contract fully. At six weeks, you may have already lost the weight you gained during pregnancy. This is especially true if you're breastfeeding.
Many health care providers recommend waiting 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth to give your body time to heal before you have sex. When you're ready for sex, be careful – you can get pregnant even before your period starts. This is because you may ovulate (release an egg) before you get your period again.
Pregnancy may have caused your stomach muscles to separate (diastasis recti), and doing sit-ups too soon can make the problem worse . If you had a caesarean section, take it easy in the first six weeks so your body can heal.
Avoid stairs and lifting until your doctor says these activities are OK. Don't take a bath or go swimming until the doctor says it's OK. Don't drive until your doctor says it's OK. Also wait until you can make sudden movements and wear a safety belt properly without discomfort.
It is ok to resume most daily activities, such as driving a car, climbing stairs, and doing light housework, but make sure not to push yourself. Err on the side of caution and continue to take it easy until your 6 week postpartum check-up.