When I had my first baby, I had wildly unrealistic expectations for myself after I had the baby. I wanted everyone to be impressed at how well I was doing and how quickly I recovered.
I was the perfect example of what NOT to do after giving birth.
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I tried to go running just three weeks after my C-section. I got up and got dressed and back to life in public way too soon. I didn’t have a clue of what the signs of postpartum depression are.
Now that I’m having my third baby, I plan on treating my time postpartum much differently. Here are the things I am NOT planning on doing any time soon after I give birth, and you shouldn’t either:
Housework is NOT allowed after giving birth!
This *should* go without saying, but I’m going to be taking some time off from regular household duties. I think this is well-deserved after you push a baby out of your nether regions, no? I do struggle with this because I like my house to be a certain way and it makes me crazy to have it be a mess.
I hate being behind on housework.
It’s a good idea to communicate with your husband ahead of time about your need for rest after having a baby and let him know that he needs to pick up the slack around the house.
But even if you’re not getting a lot of help, take a break anyway. If you see dirty dishes in the sink, LEAVE THEM THERE. Ignore the overflowing trash can. And for the love of all that is good, don’t go hauling any laundry around the house!
It will be fine. Your family will probably eventually wash a dish when there are no clean ones left to be had. Or they’ll use paper plates, or eat over the sink and it will still be fine. They’ll figure it out.
Don’t leave your bedroom
OK, so you’re committed to resting after you have a baby. But what’s the harm in heading out to the living room to hang with your family on the couch?
I’ll tell you.
It’s WAY too easy to get sucked into doing tasks around the house when you are physically present in the main living area. This is especially true if you have older kids. They tend to forget that you’re supposed to be resting, and will ask you for help with this or that.
You’ll be tempted to do work if you can see that it needs to be done. If those dirty dishes in the sink are anywhere in your view, you’ll start to get annoyed with them and wind up doing them.
And trust me, NO ONE is going to tell you to stop working. They will absolutely let you do it. Your family doesn’t really understand how important it is that you have time to recover after having a baby. That’s why you’ve gotta watch out for yourself and not do all of that stuff after giving birth!
So prep your bedroom with all of your postpartum essentials and then stay there! Your older kids and your husband can come visit you in there. They can still spend time with you and hold the baby. You can even read their bed time stories to them if you want. But it’s important for you to stay locked away until you truly feel up to getting back to normal life.
Once you come out and start doing work, NO ONE is going to tell you to stop.
You shouldn’t get dressed after giving birth
This goes right along with staying in your room and avoiding housework.
I’m normally all for stay at home moms getting dress and ready for the day. I think it helps you feel better and helps you be better at your job as a mom.
BUT right after you have a baby is a major exception.
Any little signal that you can use to communicate to everyone around you that you are in rest mode is a good idea. Staying in your pajamas is a great way to do that!
So getting dressed is definitely a good example of what not do do after giving birth.
The moment you show up looking dressed and fresh is the moment that people forget that you’re still recovering from childbirth. If you look good, people are going to think that you feel good.
So keep wearing your PJs. You can put on clean ones every day if you want, but make sure you are definitely in sleep or lounge wear at all times!
Having sex is a no-no
If you ask a doctor what not to do after giving birth, this will be at the top of their list!
So just don’t. Your marriage will be fine. There’s no need to feel bad for anyone. You just pushed a BABY out of your vagina – he should be feeling bad for you!
Your uterus has an actual open wound that it needs to heal from, and putting anything at all in your vagina can cause an infection. It’s medically necessary to abstain from sex at this point.
Plus, you can get pregnant within just a few weeks of giving birth, and you definitely don’t want that.
Tampons too, sorry!
On a similar note, skip the tampons too. I know it stinks to have to deal with all of that blood after giving birth, but tampons just aren’t safe while your body is healing.
I recommend investing in some adult diapers to wear after birth. They’re awesome because you can lounge around in any position without fear of leaking!
You should avoid exercise after giving birth
No doubt you’re eager to start shedding the baby weight – I get it! But your body just went through a crazy 9 month ordeal that you need to give yourself time to recover from.
Don’t be like me and try to go running right away.
An easy walk around the block for some fresh air a few days after birth is probably fine, but save the jumping jacks and squats for after you have your provider’s OK to get back to physical activity.
Don’t believe that breastfeeding is birth control!
For some reason, a lot of people tend to think that you can’t get pregnant while you’re breastfeeding. And while it is true that you’re less likely to get pregnant while breastfeeding, it’s definitely still possible.
Especially if you supplement with any formula or breastfeed on a rigid schedule. The less often that you breastfeed, the more likely your body is to get back to ovulating which equals baby making potential!
Of course, you shouldn’t be having any sex at all for at least the first six weeks, so it should be a non-issue!
You shouldn’t survive on take out after giving birth
While cooking is definitely on the list of things you shouldn’t be doing after birth, you need to figure out a way to still make sure your body is getting good nutrition after you have a baby. Fast food every night isn’t going to cut it!
There’s lots of ways to get good meals during your recovery time:
- If you’re still pregnant, plan ahead and make some freezer meals to have after baby.
- Sign up for a meal delivery service for a few weeks – some of those companies have really healthy options!
- If you’re part of a church or mom’s group of any kind, hopefully they’ll set up a meal train of some kind of have people in the community bring you dinners for a couple of weeks.
NEVER refuse an offer of help
It’s hard to accept help, even if you really need it. You feel like you’ll owe that person something if you take them up on an offer of help, or feel like you’re inconveniencing them. It takes a certain amount of humility to accept help, to be honest. But people really DO enjoy helping. They just may not know exactly what to do.
So the next time someone says to you, “Let me know if you need anything!” Ask them if they would mind bringing dinner over or maybe walk your dog. They really won’t mind!
Whatever you do, don’t skip the stool softeners
That first poo after you have a baby can be a little…nerve-wracking. But trust me, it’s really not so bad as long as you take your stool softeners! Things will move right along if you have the proper medication, so no need to stress over this.
But whatever you do DON’T strain to go to the bathroom, you’ll just make things worse!
Don’t expect your body to bounce back immediately after giving birth
I’ve talked to some new moms who were genuinely surprised and upset that their their tummies didn’t snap back to their pre-pregnancy glory within a week or two after giving birth.
Recovering from birth can be a long process, so be sure to give yourself time to heal. Your tummy will shrink and your stretch marks will fade (although it probably won’t ever be the same, I hate to break it to you) and eventually you’ll start feeling like yourself again.
But 9 months of creating another human is quite an ordeal both mentally and physically, so give yourself a little grace.
Don’t ignore signs of postpartum depression
Postpartum depression affects a lot of new moms, but many of them don’t even realize it! It’s super important for both you and your husband to be educated about what postpartum depression looks like so that you can be prepared to deal with it if it shows up.
There is help available if you find yourself struggling, there’s no need to suffer in silence!
Don’t skip your postpartum visit
Whatever you do, don’t skip your postpartum visit with your midwife or doctor!
Even if you’re feeling super awesome, it’s best to be checked out by a doctor within a few weeks of giving birth. There are any number of things that can be off even if you don’t realize it. It’s also an awesome opportunity to ask any questions that you might have!
Don’t be surprised by the tears
When I had my babies, there would be times that I would burst into tears for absolutely no reason at all. It was weird because I’m not normally emotional like that!
After giving birth, all of your hormones comes crashing down from pregnancy and it can result in something called the baby blues. It’s kind of obnoxious that they gave it this cutesy name because those hormones changes cause some legitimately not-fun emotions.
But just know that you might feel sad or particularly moody within a few days after giving birth, so don’t be surprised when it happens! It’s totally normal and happens to most new moms. It’s not something to be concerned about unless it lasts for a couple of weeks and starts to turn into the more serious postpartum depression.
Don’t immediately think you have a low milk supply
A lot of new moms tend to overthink breastfeeding. They worry too much about how much milk their baby is getting and constantly think they have a low supply.
But sometimes, newborn babies cry a lot and you aren’t able to figure out the reason! Don’t automatically blame your milk supply when you have a crying baby, because it’s actually really rare to not be able to produce enough milk.
Think of it this way: your body knew exactly how to grow this baby inside of you for nine months and you trusted it during that process. There’s no reason to stop trusting it to be able to make the nutrition that your baby needs after birth!
The more you know about breastfeeding, the more likely you are to be successful at it. If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, you might want to consider taking an affordable course like Milkology to help you get off to a good start!As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Melinda worked with children for years in a professional setting before becoming a full-time stay at home mom. She currently has three young children, and enjoys sharing tips and ideas about parenting and how to manage a home with excellence. She’s been featured on Heathline and Her View From Home.