After Giving Birth: How to Feel Healthy
Helping yourself feel fit is one of the best things you can do for your baby. A little exercise will tone your muscles. You’ll feel stronger and more energized. You’ll also feel more awake and aware. Don’t worry about your weight right now. Your goal is to feel healthy.
Continue pelvic floor muscle exercises
You may have been told to do pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels) during pregnancy. These exercises strengthen the muscles that are strained by carrying and delivering the baby. You can start doing them again as soon as you feel ready. Why not start today? Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles (the ones that control your urine stream) for at least 5 seconds. Relax, then squeeze again. Work your way up to 50 or 100 Kegels a day.
Exercise helps you get in shape. It also strengthens your muscles, so it's easier to lift the baby. As an added benefit, exercise gives you a sense that you’re doing something good for yourself. Take your baby for a short walk or spend 10 minutes stretching. If you were active during pregnancy, you can probably begin light exercise as soon as you feel ready. But be sure to check with your healthcare provider before you begin, especially if you had a cesarean section.
Stay off the scale
For the first month, think about regaining energy and feeling good, not about losing weight. Losing weight too soon can make you feel more tired. Instead, focus on caring for your baby and eating balanced meals. You may lose some weight without even trying, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Once your energy level is back to normal, you can begin to lose weight. A gradual weight loss of 4 or 5 pounds a month is safest.
You’ll want to be comfortable during the first days after delivery. Wear a robe, pajamas, or sweats—whatever feels best. Soon you may want to look more like your prepregnant self. Do your hair and wear makeup, if you normally do. A loose-fitting dress may feel good. But don’t reach for your jeans. It’s likely to be a month or more before you can wear them. If leaking breasts are a problem, put pads inside your bra and dress in layers. If you’re breastfeeding, shirts that open in front and pullover tops are good choices. A scarf or shawl can be used as a drape if you breastfeed around other people.
When to call your healthcare provider
Remember to schedule your postpartum visit. You should have contact with your provider within 3 weeks of delivery. You may need to see your provider sooner if you had a cesarean section or have high blood pressure. You should have a complete postpartum visit with your provider within 12 weeks of delivery. Also call your provider if you have:
Redness or persistent lump in your breasts
Problems urinating or haven't had a bowel movement after 1 week
New or worsening depression