How to Physically Recover After Childbirth

December 31, 2019
Postpartum is a stage in which your body has to recover from all the changes it has experienced during pregnancy. In this article, you'll learn how you can physically recover after childbirth.

Once you return home with your baby, you may have many doubts. One of them is how to physically recover after childbirth. It’s important to understand that your body has undergone a lot of changes during your pregnancy and that, to return to its initial state, the first thing you need is time; in addition to taking care of yourself.

Keep in mind that postpartum is the period of time from the expulsion of the placenta (delivery) until the body returns to the initial state before pregnancy. It lasts approximately 6 to 8 weeks.

Do I have to change my diet?

In postpartum, and especially if you’re breastfeeding your baby, your body’s energy demand increases and it’s very likely that you need to increase the contribution of kilocalories in your diet. 

These changes depend on your weight and physical condition before pregnancy, but also on the weight gain during the pregnancy. Ideally, you should consult your healthcare professional to advise you properly; taking into account your nutritional and health status.

Here are some recommendations when it comes to eating a healthy and balanced diet during your postpartum period:

  • Now you can consume foods that weren’t appropriate during pregnancy (undercooked meat, cream cheese…), but you must consider their nutritional value and if they’re part of a balanced diet. In many cases, these foods have high fat content and their consumption isn’t ideal.
  • When cooking, there are different alternatives that allow you to do it lightly without adding fats to the food; such as steaming, baking, grilling… Avoid frying food. 
  • To add flavor to your dishes, try spices as an alternative to sauces.
  • Limit salt intake in your diet. Use iodized salt.
It's important to follow a balanced diet.

  • Consume five servings of fruit a day and two of vegetables.
  • Use olive oil to cook food as an alternative to butter or other oils.
  • Avoid eating pre-cooked and industrial foods since they’re high in salt, sugar, and fat.
  • Eat foods rich in calcium: dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt…) and green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard…).
  • Ingest foods high in fiber to avoid constipation.
  • Drink plenty of water (a minimum of two liters a day). Avoid sodas and sugary drinks as well as alcohol if you breastfeed.

The importance of rest

Rest is essential to physically recover after childbirth. Newborn babies are very demanding, they need to be with their mother at all times and this can be exhausting. To rest during postpartum, you can follow any of these recommendations:

  • Rest and sleep when the baby does. Babies don’t understand day and night like adults. They have their own sleep rhythm and this can be tiresome. It’s best to take advantage of your baby’s sleep to take a little nap or just lie down for a while.
  • At night, sleep near your baby, especially if you breastfeed. If you’re close, you won’t overexert yourself when breastfeeding, feeding, or calming the baby. Co-sleeping can be a good alternative, but check with your midwife or doctor first.
  • Delegate tasks. This is crucial because not only do you have a baby that totally demands your care, but you also have to recover yourself.

Physical exercise to physically recover after childbirth

Postpartum is a recovery period in which your body has to adapt to the changes you’ve experienced and return to its initial state prior to pregnancy.

It’s best to restart physical exercises once the postpartum period is over. Meanwhile, walking is the most recommended exercise. 

  • Don’t perform ab crunches since the increase in intra-abdominal pressure damages your pelvic floor. To exercise this area, you can perform hypopressive abdominal gymnastics; always with the help of a qualified professional.
  • Swimming is one of the most complete sports. Once you’ve finished the lochia, you can practice it without any problems. Moreover, there are centers that teach babies to swim, so you can go with your baby.
  • Avoid performing physical impact exercises; that is, those in which you bounce on the ground (running, Zumba, jumping…). Like the abdominal crunches, they damage your pelvic floor.
Don't do impact exercises during the recovery period.

  • When you exercise, increase the intensity gradually. Remember that during pregnancy, your physical capacity has undergone changes and, now, you must adapt to them. Don’t force yourself.
  • Perform Kegel exercises to improve and strengthen your pelvic floor and to prevent urinary incontinence.

These recommendations will be of great help when it comes to recovering physically after childbirth and will make the change to being a mom much easier. Of course, if in doubt, consult your midwife or health professional.