Recovery after Pregnancy and giving birth

Your pregnancy and giving birth, whether vaginally or by c-section, is hard on your body. Recovery after pregnancy and childbirth is very important. What should you pay attention to during your recovery? We’ve asked The 360 Mama, a platform with postpartum professionals, to write about recovery after childbirth and they gave us all the insights!

recovery after pregnancy and childbirth

Rest after giving birth

We know that it can be difficult to rest when you’ve just had a baby, but if you can, we recommend planning for the first couple of weeks post-birth in advance. Whether you’ve had a vaginal or c-section birth, the body needs time to heal and recover. Even if you feel great (this could be adrenaline, pain medication or just the excitement of finally meeting your little one), there is plenty of physical healing that needs to happen. 

Spending a few days resting, quietly bonding with your baby, establishing a feeding routine and taking the opportunity to sleep when you can allow your body to heal and repair. It can be tempting to have a busy schedule of visitors, get out for your first walk or you may have other children who require looking after – but all of those things will deplete the little energy levels you have, leaving less energy to use for healing. Sometimes this will be immediately obvious – you might have pain, notice your postpartum bleeding (lochia) is very heavy, or just feel exhausted. Sometimes the effects of not giving yourself adequate time to recover are not obvious until later on. 

If possible, ask for help or make a plan with your partner or family members so that you do not have to take on any additional responsibilities in the first 2 weeks. If you have had a C-section you should be mindful that you may be restricted from some activities such as lifting or driving for 6 weeks. 

Eating well is important during recovery after childbirth

Another useful idea to prepare in advance are nutritious meals to sustain you in the weeks after birth. Preparing them while you have the time and energy to do so and storing in the freezer ensures that you don’t have to worry about cooking when you come home, but will not rely on takeaways or ready-meals that don’t provide your body with the nutrients to support healing.

For your mental wellbeing, food also makes a big difference to how you feel. Think about preparing meals that will be packed with good stuff and also feel comforting. It’s amazing how much you’ll appreciate a home-cooked meal when you’re tired, sore or emotional. 

It's important to build up slowly and gradually when starting to exercise after childbirth.

Exercise after childbirth

When you feel ready to return to exercise, even gentle movement like walking, will depend entirely on your birth experience and body. There is no rule that says you must start on a particular day. Small amounts of movement is required after c-section births in order to prevent post-operative complications but this should be limited to little and often around the house. 

Movement can be really positive for your mental health and help to soothe aches and pains as well as supporting your recovery, but it’s important to build up slowly and gradually. Often at around 6 weeks you will feel well enough to introduce some regular exercise, but impact exercise such as running is not recommended until at least 12 weeks in current guidelines. 

Pelvic floor exercises and diaphragmatic breathing which helps to recover the core muscles after pregnancy can begin as early as day one. Practicing these exercises while pregnant makes it easier for you to engage with the muscles again after birth as the muscles remember what they should be doing. 

C-section scars

If you’ve had a c-section birth you also need to look after your scar properly to avoid common issues such as numbness, pins and needles, sensitivity, pain, pulling or an overhang. On average it takes approximately 6 weeks for the wound to fully close and for scabs to fall away. If you are experiencing ongoing problems with your wound opening or notice signs of infection such as local redness, swelling, pain, weeping fluid, a foul smell or feeling feverish you should seek medical attention. 

Avoid wearing tight waistbands or restrictive clothing while your scar heals. Ideally you want to get air to the wound, keep it clean with water from the shower head and make sure you dry it completely by dabbing away any moisture with a clean towel. 

After 6 weeks, or when your scar has fully healed over you may also benefit from using some products such as a scar repair oil, silicone scar strips and introducing scar massage. These can all make a big difference to the appearance of your scar and how your tummy feels. 

If you want more information or support to recover better from birth you can find some free resources on the website from The 360 Mama, or join the hundreds of women who have joined our Ultimate Postpartum Recovery Courses and private community. The 360 Mama are a team of postpartum experts specialising in pelvic health, scar therapy and postnatal exercise.

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