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The act of giving birth is such a special time – the kicker is, there are some things NOT to do after giving birth every mom should know about!
Yes, there are actually things you want to avoid after giving birth in order to have a smooth postpartum recovery!
First, we need to make sure we understand what our body is going through after we give birth, so let’s dive right in!
And ps — if you also want some helpful tips to get through your fourth trimester as a postpartum mama, make sure you read until the end (or use the table of contents tab to jump around to the areas that best suit you!).
Things to AVOID after giving birth
The key to knowing what NOT to do after birth is by knowing what to expect after birth!
Remember, preparation and knowledge is always the BEST thing you can do for anything in life, especially a big one like childbirth!
The ONE thing that really helped me understand what to expect after birth was taking a birth class. It really helped ease my fears of birth & postpartum altogether. This is the birth class I took, which happens to be super affordable when you use my code: MOMAFTERBABY to save 10% off. If you want to check out this birth class while it’s still around, click here to see it for yourself!
If you’ve taken your birth class already, great! Let’s talk about the first few things to AVOID after you give birth along with a more detailed list below!
- AVOID straining to pee or defecate.
- AVOID standing too long after birth.
- AVOID wiping when you use the bathroom.
- AVOID having too many visitors (during the pandemic)
- AVOID trying to do all the house chores – they can wait!
- AVOID not asking for help when you need it.
- AVOID suppressing your feelings (it’s important you talk about your postpartum emotions).
- AVOID working out for at least 6-8 weeks minimum.
- AVOID using tampons while you’re recovering (at least 6-8 weeks minimum).
- AVOID holding your bladder too long.
- AVOID dehydration by always keeping a water bottle close by.
- AVOID skipping your prenatal, your body needs the extra nutrients especially if you’re breastfeeding!
- AVOID trying to fit into old clothes, opt for comfort instead.
- AVOID sitting on your perineum too long (use a donut cushion to help with pain).
- AVOID wearing tight or underwire bras (if breastfeeding).
Now that you have a list of 15 things to avoid during your postpartum recovery period, let’s dive right into what kinds of things you can expect the first 24 hours after birth AND talk about some other helpful postpartum tips to help you recover quickly!
So…what should I expect physically in the first 24 hours after birth?
Oh, mama… I’m going to do my best to summarize everything about what to expect after giving birth to you. I mean, a women’s health & body is just so fascinating yet so complex!
Please keep in mind that vaginal birth and cesarean birth will have some differences. In this post, I’m specifically talking about vaginal deliveries.
If you’d like me to cover a similar post ALL on cesarean recovery, drop me a comment at the bottom of this page!
- Your belly will still look full, but it will feel mushy.
- Water retention is very common so you may notice an onset of swelling you didn’t have before. Not to worry as it should resolve on its own.
- Heavy bleeding. Listen, they give you those massive postpartum pads for a reason. Don’t be alarmed though, heavy bleeding is normal for the first 24 hours after giving birth.
- Abdominal Cramps. If you thought your period cramps were bad after birth cramps can be pretty rough as your uterus contracts to get back to its pre-baby size.
- Full Breasts. I know you thought your boobs are already big enough but wait until they are ready to breastfeed. They get so large & in charge! You’ll want some quality & supportive nursing bras (like these ones) on hand for those big girls!
- Mood Swings. This is normal. You will be filled with so much emotion thanks to your hormones & depending on your birthing experience.
If you ever feel like you’re experiencing the things above to a different extreme, you should contact your health care provider immediately. You can never be too precautious after giving birth.
One note about mood swings, if you feel like you’re bordering the lines of postpartum depression or any postpartum mood disorder, I have a post 100% dedicated to postpartum mood disorders and how to handle it. Please don’t suffer alone in silence.
What NOT to do after giving birth:
1. DON’T forget to take your stool softeners to prevent constipation after pregnancy!
I know it sounds silly, but you will thank me for this tip later.
Initially, after our son was born and we got settled into our room, the nurse immediately handed me some stool softeners. I looked at her and said, “Uh…do I really need these?”.
She explained that the first poo after giving birth can be pretty painful. Not to mention all your hormones can really mess up your body’s regulation.
Needless to say, I was not ready to venture into the painful poo journey. So I took those stool softeners religiously as directed!
Trust me, you will be so tired after pushing a baby out. You’re tired from getting no sleep. You’re in pain from your cesarean or vaginal delivery. You don’t need any pain from any other parts if you know what I mean!
Be proactive, pick up some stool softeners now.
Even better, throw them in your hospital bag so they’re ready to go on the big day!
2. Don’t feel bad if you have a ‘no visitors after birth’ mentality.
Having a baby is not only a special moment for all the families involved, but it’s most special for the mom & dad. Not to mention they have a pretty sensitive immune system as is.
So take that time for yourselves. Soak in every ounce of this little bundle of joy.
I never really knew the true meaning of time until we had our first little boy last year. Yep, last year.
That means 1 year has flown by like the speed of lightning. I always find myself reminiscing the days he was so tiny I could hold him in one arm.
Take those few days or even weeks if you have to & cherish the moment for yourselves. Most of the time, family members are pretty understanding.
If they’re not, just remind them you need some space and soon enough everyone will be able to meet your sweet little baby!
For the record, we had a no visitor policy for the first 2 weeks (except for my parents, siblings, and best friend), everyone else was more than understanding, fortunately.
3. DON’T be hard on yourself because you will still look pregnant after giving birth.
It’s good to prepare yourself mentally that you won’t just have a baby and then magically look the way you did before baby. It’ll take some time.
In fact, it can take up to a couple of weeks before your uterus is able to shrink back down to its normal size, crazy right?!
For any consolation, I looked full on pregnant for almost 1 week. Then it SLOWLY began to look like I was just a newly pregnant girl, but hey, I’ll take it!!
In the meantime, make sure you have some comfy clothes handy to just lounge around in, my all-time favorite was by Kindred Bravely — clothing made for all women, but specifically designed for mamas!
Trust me when I say, your body appearance is the last thing that will be on your mind after giving birth.
4. Don’t expect to have a period for quite some time.
If you’re not planning to breastfeed, it can take about 6-8 months before you see the return of your period, hooray [Source]!
If you are planning to exclusively breastfeed, it could possibly be even longer before you see the return of your period.
However, for some mamas, they do experience the return of their periods much quicker (like me!).
The good news, is you’ll likely have some pads or postpartum adult diapers lying around in the event you get an early return, otherwise enjoy those extended period-free months ahead of you!
5. Don’t forget, you might need new shoes!
So, during our pregnancy, I had a ton of leg/foot swelling. It was literally so bad that compression socks literally wouldn’t even fit.
Then after our son was born, I was literally so excited to finally not deal with the swelling (which took 4 weeks to completely go away) and go back to having my normal feet back! Except…I couldn’t fit into any of my shoes!
Horribly true story, none of my shoes fit. I had a minor freak out and began googling foot growth during pregnancy which is a VERY REAL thing ladies.
So be prepared, you may need to do some shoe shopping after your baby is born.
6. DON’T even think about trying to lose the baby weight immediately after birth!
Having a baby did not come easy. You spent many months growing this little bundle of joy to then birthing it out of your body! Not only did it perform an incredible act, but it’s now in a recovery state.
Believe it or not, sometimes allowing yourself the time to fully recover without adding any extra stressors can far outweigh pushing it to do even more work right now.
When you are ready (I would guess at minimum 2-4 months after birth), start slow and consider how external factors will come into play such as quality of sleep, whether or not you’re breastfeeding, your diet, and if you have someone to help with your little one.
If you need some help finding a workout plan to ease back into fitness after your body has recovered, I’d highly suggest Mutu System or Jenna Bradley’s Ab Rehab! Both created with a mom’s postpartum body in mind!
7. DON’T be afraid to ask for help after the baby is born.
I know having a baby can feel overwhelming, to a point you feel like you should be able to do everything for baby without help.
But trust me, you will reach those limits when you need help.
During the early weeks, you will experience sleep deprivation as you’ve probably never experienced before.
This could lead to feelings of being more easily irritable, stressed, emotional and just gosh darn tired!
If you find yourself feeling extremely overwhelmed during your new life with a newborn, please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Once I finally stopped being afraid of asking for help and realizing it doesn’t make me a failure to put myself first sometimes – everything about motherhood became SO much easier!
You see, giving birth to a life is one of the hardest things you’ll face. However, the ‘after giving birth’ doesn’t necessarily get easier.
Make sure you took some notes from this post and keep them handy in your hospital bag so when the big day comes, you WILL be prepared. Best of luck mama!
8. DON’T forget to eat (nutritious foods)!
Now, I’m not saying you need to be on a diet, but I am saying you should be mindful of the foods you’re eating!
I’m 100% about flexible eating, meaning eating nutrient-dense foods mixed with ‘fun’ foods, BUT the goal after birth is recovery.
Eating a well-rounded diet can definitely help you recover and feel better!
Now, if you don’t have time to cook up hearty meals, use a meal prep-service until you develop a routine with your baby!
9. DON’T assume you won’t get your period!
If you’re a breastfeeding mama, it’s common to have lactational amenorrhea, this just means not having a menstruation cycle due to lactation/breastfeeding.
On average, most fully breastfeeding moms will get their period back around the 9-month mark, but this still can vary.
If you’re an unfortunate soul like me, you could get it back as early as 3 months postpartum. Let me tell you…dealing with a raging period while still adjusting to being a new first-time mom was no fun.
One other thing to add is if you do get your period back, you may notice a temporary low breast milk supply.
10. DON’T stop taking your prenatal vitamins!
Continuing prenatal vitamins will give you all the extra micronutrients your body needs during this ever-changing time period.
11. DON’T be afraid to reach out to other moms for support
Sometimes, the isolating feeling of becoming a new mom can be overbearing.
Who better to lend a shoulder to lean on than someone who’s been in your shoes before, right?
Find your mom tribe, it could be your Instagram BFF mama, your sister, your mom, anyone! Social support for new moms can be such a strong tool to help prevent things like postpartum anxieties and depression.
If your emotions begin to feel more out of control than you can handle, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help!
12. Your pre-baby clothes may not fit, DON’T be afraid to get some new ones!
Getting new clothes after my son was born helped me feel a little bit more normal again.
13. DON’T take your birth control without discussing it with your health care provider first (if you’re breastfeeding)!
Most estrogen-based birth controls have been shown to have a negative effect on a mother’s breast milk supply! This means you could end up unintentionally decreasing or lowering your breast milk supply during the most crucial time as it’s trying to establish!
Not to mention, you don’t really need any extra weird hormones making their way into your milk supply.
For more information on breastfeeding, check out this affordable online breastfeeding course to help you develop a successful breastfeeding journey with your baby!
14. DO NOT avoid the fact that you could have Postpartum Depression.
Having wild emotions and hormones after giving birth is so common.
However, if you feel like you are having excessively bad feelings. Uncontrollable anxiety. Irrational thoughts or just don’t feel right, please ask for help right away!
Postpartum Depression & Perinatal Mood Disorders can happen to anyone…but they don’t have to!
One thing I actually like to share with expecting moms is a program called Preventing Postpartum Depression.
My friend Abby Burd (a mental health professional for over 20 years!) created this program to help ALL moms learn and understand how to PREVENT postpartum depression.
That’s right, Postpartum Depression can actually be PREVENTED!
Abby is someone I crossed paths with when I felt like I needed someone to talk to after having my son. I can never be more thankful for having met her and having her share so many incredible resources with me to help along the way.
If you’re in the midst of dealing with it, the program can help you too. Most times women don’t seek out help because they don’t have insurance to help foot the copays.
Another common reason is trying to find a mental health professional with specific expertise in treating postpartum conditions can be tough to find.
With Preventing Postpartum Depression – you eliminate those reasons for not being able to seek out help.
Abby was kind enough to let me share this code with you — FITMOMMYSTRONG — this will help you save 15% off the program.
If you are an expecting mom, new mom or know a mom possibly suffering from PPD, I encourage you to at least check out the program to see how it can help you.
15. Don’t neglect your relationship with your partner
If you haven’t read my other article on how many couples experience relationship issues after birth, you should definitely go give that one a read.
However to stay on point, try your best to continue to put in effort towards keeping your relationship alive and special!
Although your newborn baby is the main priority AND sucking up all your time, it’s just as important to make sure the foundation between you and your partner are strong as well.
Things you NEED after giving birth
If you didn’t catch the pattern here, birth can be fun yet scary.
In order to keep the ‘scary’ down to a minimum, it’s also JUST AS IMPORTANT to make sure you stock up on the things you need after giving birth!
Now, you can go read all about how to make your own DIY Postpartum Care Kit or you can just snag the items you need off from the list below:
- Hemorrhoid cream (just in case)
- Perineal Spray (I personally love the Dermoplast spray for pain relief and Earth Mama for a calming effect)
- Comfortable Adult Diapers (Always Discreet is the way to go!)
- Peri bottle (your hospital should send you home with one, but FRIDA MOM peri bottle is the best as is has an extended angular tip making it 10x easier to use)
- Witch Hazel Pads (you NEED these to place inside the lining of your pad or diaper – I swear these provided so much cooling relief for me after birth, you will love them too!)
- Ultra high waisted panties (specifically for cesarean mamas to provide support and not bother your incision site)
First Time Mom Tips After Giving Birth
We talked A TON about what not to do after giving birth and some of the things you’ll need for a smooth recovery.
Now, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, I want you to just stop, take a breath, and remember it will be ok.
Take in all the info ONE SMALL PIECE AT A TIME!
These are simply TIPS to help you prepare for what to expect and what not to do after birth, but even if you don’t do them all, I promise, you’ll be alright.
Before ending this article, there are also some BASIC pieces of advice every mom should know when becoming a first-time mom.
We’re going to go over what I consider some of the most important information for a successful Postpartum Journey!
Take notes for yourself, screenshot these pages or bookmark it so you can come back later if you don’t want to forget this info!
Helpful advice for mom after giving birth
Don’t be afraid to ASK for help or things if you need it! What I mean is, if someone calls to check in and asks you what you need, don’t just say “No, I’m ok, thanks!”.
When in reality, you haven’t prepped lunch, you haven’t done any laundry in days, and you haven’t even had a chance to shower!
One of the biggest things friends and relatives can offer to new moms is their time & acts of kindness. That could be simply watching the baby while you nap for 30 mins, bringing you some lunch, or folding some laundry to help you out.
How long should you rest after giving birth?
It’s VERY important you follow your postpartum care plan provided by your health care provider. This will typically give all postpartum mothers instructions to follow after their birth.
If you had a cesarean, the average recovery time is 6-8 weeks (sometimes longer). For vaginal deliveries, it averages around 4-6 weeks.
If you had a traumatic birth of any kind, that could extend your recovery period and you should always closely adhere to your medical provider’s instructions.
Resting after birth isn’t just because you’re tired, it’s because your body has undergone 9 months (give or take) of making a baby, then birthing a baby, and it needs TIME to recover.
Your pelvic floor and core will be significantly weakened after birth, hence the importance of rest.
You might be breastfeeding which expends more of your body’s energy, hence the importance of rest.
You see the pattern here, right?
How does your body change in the weeks after giving birth?
Between emotional and physical changes after birth, your body goes through a lot of changes.
In the first 6 weeks (which by the way, is not nearly long enough for a mom’s body to fully recover from birth), you may expect to notice things like:
- Lots of cramping as your uterus shrinks back down to size
- Vaginal bleeding and soreness
- Weaker abdominal muscles
- Pelvic Floor Weakness
- The onset of hemorrhoids after birth
- Full/Engorged breasts
- Loosened ligaments and joints
How can I satisfy my husband after having a baby?
One of the most common concerns many new moms face is how to keep the sexual activity in their relationship alive after giving birth.
This is why I strongly believe partners should be ACTIVELY INVOLVED throughout the entire pregnancy.
They should be learning and understanding the changes women go through physically and emotionally.
Physically, a woman’s body will have many sore muscles (especially in her vaginal area). Her body essentially has a large wound that it is trying to slowly repair.
Learn and encourage your partner to share OTHER ways of physical satisfaction. Such as snuggling, kissing, holding hands, etc…
In addition, help them be a part of the process. Don’t shut them out when they ask questions, but help them learn so they can understand what YOU’RE going through.
When you can work as a team together after having a baby, that will be the biggest part of keeping one another satisfied in ALL regards.
And don’t forget, you may be facing some relationship challenges after having a baby.
This is NOT uncommon and if you’d like to read more about these challenges and how to overcome them, check out this post all about relationships after baby!
How long do you bleed after delivery?
Regardless of having a cesarean or vaginal delivery, you will bleed. This bleeding is often referred to as “lochia”.
In general, bleeding after delivery usually lasts anywhere from 4-6 weeks.
The heaviest amount of bleeding occurs 3-10 days right after birth. Then lighter bleeding will continue for a few weeks.
One important thing to keep an eye out for is if you begin to pass thick heavy clots or begin soaking through your pads (typically more than 1 pad per hour), you should contact your doctor right away as postpartum hemorrhage can occur up to 6 weeks postpartum!
There you have it, mamas! Lots of things NOT TO DO after giving birth along with some helpful tips for all you new moms out there.
You can never be too prepared for postpartum & life after birth!
What not to do after giving birth recap:
Caring for a new baby and becoming a new mother is a lot to take in. Between hormonal changes, the early days postpartum, the lack of sleep, and simply being new parents — the ONE thing you can do is try to learn all you can so you can approach these changes with grace and confidence.
In addition to the tips of “what not to do after birth” in this article, be sure to not forget about yourself after the birth of your baby. Prioritize taking time for yourself even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Eat a balanced diet. And most of all, remember motherhood won’t always be this extravagant great time, but it’s so worth it.
If you read through this entire post (which I know was a long one, sorry!) you should be feeling much more confident about embarking on your motherhood journey. What areas do you still feel unsure of? Drop us a comment below!
This article was updated in December 2021