I talk a TON about the things you SHOULD do during postpartum recovery – because I want you to be well prepared going into it… but not that much is said about the big list of what NOT to do after giving birth!
I don’t mean to sound like a drill Sargent, but your body just underwent a pretty phenomenal and grueling experience… it’s NOT just a regular Tuesday afternoon over here.
There are a few things that we should not do in the first week or two (or longer) after giving birth that seem really obvious, and some that aren’t as obvious!
21 things to avoid after giving birth (at least for the first few weeks!)
I am not a doctor – I don’t even pretend to be on on TV! This is not medical advice. This is just my experiences. You should ask your doctor about all things concerning you postpartum.
These restrictions after giving birth are good common sense… your doctor might have an even longer list for you!
Firstly, Do NOT ignore the signs that you need to see a dr!
It can be easy for us to ignore our own health in the first week postpartum – we are so excited to have baby with us, and excited about NOT being pregnant – plus, we know we just went through a small war… so we expect to feel kind of crappy.
But there are a few things to watch out for, indications that there could be something wrong, and if any of these things happens you NEED to call your doctor immediately.
My friend Hilary @ Pulling Curls, is a labor and delivery nurse (unlike me) and she goes over what to watch out for postpartum in her Online Prenatal Class.
(If you are pre-baby and have not taken a prenatal class yet, TAKE THIS ONE, not only can you do it from home – which is perfect right now – but it is SO detailed, and she will make you feel so much better about having a baby in general. Use the coupon code MOP10 to get 10% off her course here, and get yourself properly prepared to do the baby having thing.)
A quick list of things to watch out for post-baby include:
- You have bleeding that soaks a pad every hour for two hours. This could be too much bleeding.
- You pass clots larger than a quarter.
- You have a foul odor coming from your vagina. (I mean it’s not going to smell like flowers, but if it smells BAD… that’s bad.)
- You have no bleeding whatsoever.
- You have a fever of 101 or higher.
- You are in terrible pain.
- You have swelling, redness or discharge from your cesarean incision or episiotomy site. This may be a sign of infection.
- Problems urinating including the inability to urinate, burning while urinating, or extremely dark urine. This could be dehydration, an infection, or other complication.
- You have any type of visual disturbance. You may be experiencing postpartum preeclampsia.
- Severe headaches. This could be hormonal, or related to blood pressure but should be checked out.
- Pain, warmth or tenderness in your legs.
- Frequent nausea and vomiting.
- Problems breathing. (Call 911)
And remember, googling your symptoms online can not replace actually SEEING a doctor, or at the very least talking to one on the phone. This is not a time to mess with your health. If something feels off, contact your doctor.
DO NOT GOOGLE EVERYTHING
This might seem like odd advice coming from an article you likely found… on google… but if you suspect something is wrong with you or your baby, googling it is a bad idea for two reasons:
- if there is nothing wrong, it will still freak you out
- if there is something wrong it won’t fix the problem
Talk to your doctor, talk to your mom, talk to friends that have kids – but don’t rely on Google.
Do not go swimming (or take a regular bath)
This isn’t because it’s more than messy.
This is because you now have an internal would where the placenta was attached. (And let’s face it, many of us end up with some external wounds as well. Getting that kid out is hard!)
But the internal wound is a big deal. Sitting in a lot of water can cause water to go “up” and can take bacteria with it. Avoid infection by not getting in a pool or a full bath tub.
If you’re asking “when can I go swimming after birth?”, the answer is a solid AFTER YOUR DOCTOR SAYS IT’S OK, AND NOT BEFORE 6 WEEKS.
Showers are TOTALLY SAFE – and I personally used and love sitz baths postpartum. You don’t want to be unhygienic either.
Don’t use tampons
Whenever I hear this asked, I am honestly a little shocked anyone would think it – the LAST thing I wanted to do after having a baby was try to deal with any of that mess with a tampon. Maybe people asking “can I use tampons after giving birth?” are referring to … down the road? Like a couple months later? I dunno.
But even up ’till the 6 week mark postpartum, you can still have that internal wound where your placenta was attached – and you don’t want to do ANYTHING that could introduce bacteria and cause infection. Not to mention, I just don’t think it will be the most comfortable option.
Just use big cheap pads and change ’em out often.
Don’t have sex
Even if you felt up to it (and I bet you don’t) this is just one more way to introduce bacteria and slow healing.
Don’t assume you can’t get pregnant
Believe it or not, you can start to cycle within four weeks of giving birth.
Yes, that is too soon to have another baby.
Don’t strain while you poop
You’ve done enough straining. Straining can cause bleeding, damage stitches (or healing tissues), and it will outright hurt!
Drink lots of water, and take a stool softener for a few days.
Related: How to Heal Faster Postpartum
Don’t hold your pee for a long time
I didn’t want to PEE – it hurt so much!
But you want to be peeing every 2-3 hours postpartum. Your bladder is in there with all the stuff trying to heal up and while I don’t fully understand it all, I know it’s important. More on the bladder and how it is affected by pregnancy + delivery here.
to make this easier – I finally learned How to deal with the pain when peeing postpartum.
Do not quit taking your prenatals
I know they’re called PREnatals but that doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need these same nutrients anymore POSTnatal!
Your body is working over time now to heal and get back to normal – not to mention you’re taking it on a crazy sleep deprived and life changing ride… these are the prenatals I took (and they say FOR POSTPARTUM right on them as well!)
Do not “diet” to lose the baby weight
Our postpartum bodies can feel like something out of a nightmare. but it is completely unrealistic to think we should look anything like we did 9 months previously – give yourself some time! And give yourself a BREAK! You just MADE A PERSON. That is way more amazing than squeezing lumpless-ly into a bikini.
You NEED healthy calories right now, to heal to make breastmilk, to replace the blood you lost, to give yourself the energy to take care of your new tiny human.
Once you’re adjusted to new mom life and healed, you can start trying to lose the baby weight… but this is not the time. Go ahead and enjoy a burger.
Don’t drink excess alcohol or eat excessive fish with high mercury content
I know, that’s a weird combination.
You’re probably not sitting in your hospital bed just hankering for a bottle of wine and a half pound of mackerel, but then again, maybe you are.
In which case you should know that these two things basically make up the top two “don’ts” of foods to avoid after giving birth.
(And, as I state elsewhere, I personally would also choose to NOT eat excessive constipation causing foods OR diarrhea causing goods… because… you know.)
Don’t start strenuous exercise
Even if you were in great shape pre-baby, you still need to go slow and let your body heal!
You can start light exercise once your doctor has given you the OK – but jumping into a cardio routine too soon puts you at risk for bleeding.
Once you ARE ready to get back to your pre-baby self, you need to make sure you are doing the RIGHT workout – one that won’t cause further damage. The Postpartum Cure is an excellent workout plan that you can start as soon as 6 weeks postpartum.
That includes not lifting heavy objects (even if you haven’t had a c-section)
You might be sensing a theme here, but:
RISK OF BLEEDING.
Don’t wear tight clothes
Not only will this be hard on stitches, you EARNED a month in your sweats. Enjoy it!
Do not give up completely on breastfeeding (if it’s what you want)
Breastfeeding can be HARD.
Way harder than you are prepared for. And in the emotional turmoil of the first few weeks postpartum, it can feel like the anvil on top of the pile of rocks you’re buried under. It’s normal for your nipples to hurt, normal for baby to cluster feed (eat all day and all night), normal for you to wonder if baby is getting enough or not.
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, seek the advice of a lactation consultant before you just outright quit (IF it’s something you want to do). Breastfeeding is actually pretty amazing once it’s working, and you’ll probably be really glad you stuck with it through the first couple hard weeks. I sure was!
Here’s a great free online breastfeeding class to prepare you for breastfeeding – or for if you’re struggling.
But, ALSO don’t assume that just because you are breastfeeding baby is getting enough
Now, I am NOT saying this to add stress.
Do be aware though, that if breastfeeding doesn’t feel like it’s working – it might not be working.
Don’t be SO hell-bent on breastfeeding that you starve your baby. No one does this intentionally, but it HAS happened.
My friend Hilary shares how breastfeeding did NOT work for her, and she knew it.
See that lactation consultant!
Don’t underestimate the effects of sleep deprivation
It can be tempting, as the days go by, to jump up and start doing things as soon as the baby falls asleep. I’ve never been one for napping in the day – I have a hard time falling asleep and I just lay there feeling frustrated and angry that I’m wasting time.
But taking care of a tiny person really is taxing those first few months and you will undoubtedly get pretty used to being up all night. SLEEP when you can. Choose sleep over the doing the dishes or even over taking a shower.
Do not feel embarrassed by all the crazy postpartum emotions
If you burst into tears when your baby wakes up AGAIN, you do not need to be embarrassed.
If you leap up out of a solid sleep in full on panic and throw on all the lights while racing to check on the baby, you do not need to be embarrassed.
If you can’t handle the idea of leaving the house because it’s just too overwhelming, you do not need to be embarrassed.
You SHOULD talk to your doctor about postpartum depression and anxiety, but you SHOULD NOT BE EMBARRASSED.
Do not allow yourself to be steamrolled – YOU are the momma
Everyone and their dog has one hundred and fifty suggestions for how you should do something different – or better – than you are already doing it.
But you are the momma. You make the choices.
If you don’t want to sleep train, don’t sleep train. (I co-sleep!)
If you don’t want to vaccinate, don’t vaccinate.
If you don’t want to breastfeed, don’t breastfeed.
YOU are the momma.
Don’t set yourself up for failure with crazy expectations
We can build these things up in our minds, and just like a birth plan can go out the window, so can our “life plan” – for what we think life will look like that first week or so home with a baby.
Just allow yourself to go with the flow and be aware that things are going to be very different than they were before. Some good different, some bad different, but it will all be ok!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Those first few weeks can be tough! You shouldn’t have to do them alone.
Ask for help!
Are there any other things moms should avoid after giving birth? What do you think?