Postpartum Activity Levels: What You Need To Know

Have you just had your baby and been given a list of things not to do?

Or are you pregnant and want to know what to prepare for?

This post will cover all the basic movement restrictions after giving birth, and what to expect when you return home.

All forms of exercise and dietary changes are dangerous, and those who do not seek advice from an appropriate health care authority assume responsibility for any injury that may occur.

Please read my full disclaimer for more information.

Also, this post may have affiliate links: Meaning I can get a commission if you use it.

Control #1: Nothing on the cable

After giving birth, the first thing we tell you is to stay off the vagina for at least 2-6 weeks.

If you have had a baby and need more stitches, then we recommend nothing in the vagina for about 6 weeks.

What do we mean by something in the vagina?

This means tampons (many women want to use tampons to cover lochia after childbirth).

Tampons can cause sores on the female genitalia that irritate sensitive areas.

The packs in this pack sold on Amazon are loved by postpartum women.

You also don’t want to accidentally leave a tampon in for too long.

This can increase the risk of postpartum infections.

Nothing in the vagina also means no sex!

Sex can also irritate or interfere with the healing process of female genital tissue.

I often find that most women don’t even want to resume sex at the 6-week prenatal visit.

Postpartum Vaginal Care

When you are discharged from the hospital, we usually give you a few things.

A peri bottle is a hand-held bottle to pour liquid into your vagina.

(The perineum is the area from your pelvis to your anus).

This whole area will be painful after delivery.

By using a peri bottle you can avoid touching the area with your hands or other abrasive materials.

Just put some warm water in the peri bottle, and pour the water on your amber every time you want to bathe.

This will clean the area and provide some pain relief.

The peri bottle in this Amazon package is great!

Sitz baths are another easy way to provide pain relief to your perineum.

To do it, all you have to do is sit in warm water.

(*If you do it in the bathtub, and you had a C-section, don’t let the incision go under the water.)

Sit in the warm water for 10-15 minutes, and do it up to three times a day.

Lidocaine Spray/Magic Hazel Pads

We may also send you home lidocaine spray and/or witch hazel pads.

These provide temporary relief from pain and irritation in your perineum.

Lidocaine is an anesthetic that can numb the area for a short time.

Witch hazel pads contain other chemicals/ingredients that are also meant to soothe the area.

This herbal spray from the Amazon has helped to relax the perineum of many women in labor.

It is important to experience discomfort in the area from time to time because it can help you determine if you are healing well.

If your c-section is planned right from the start, then you won’t need any significant vaginal care after delivery.

However, you may have had a c-section after you went into labor (ie you stopped dilating or the baby didn’t come down).

In these cases, you may need vaginal care in addition to regular post-operative care.

Well, let’s move on to the next postpartum mobility limitation.

Restriction #2: No bathtubs or swimming pools

After giving birth, we do not want you to take a bath for at least 2 weeks.

We also don’t want you to go in the swimming pool either.

Even if your wounds are well-stitched, water can turn into small tears.

Shower water can carry a lot of bacteria that can get into your wounds.

Do not allow your stomach incision to go under water.

The last thing you want is to get an infection at the surgical site.

And then let it heal on its own, without being reattached!

Please, do not swim unless your doctor tells you to.

When can I wash after giving birth?

We recommend that you shower the day after your delivery.

This is postpartum day 1.

If you really want to shower on the day of delivery, that’s fine.

You should still be in the hospital at this time, and someone can help you if you need help.

How should I shower after giving birth?

When you shower, it’s okay to let the water wash over your entire body.

Even your c-section.

Do not actively rub the incision or perineum.

Only run warm water over these areas.

You can also use your bottle in the genital area.

After you finish, use a towel to dry these areas.

When can you use soap after delivery?

As mentioned earlier, avoid using soap directly on the c-section or perineum.

Just run warm water over the areas, then pat dry.

Can I wash my hair after giving birth?

Yes There are no restrictions on washing your hair after giving birth.

There is no danger in washing your hair.

Well, now let’s talk about the limitation of the third postpartum movement.

Restriction #3: No Weight Lifting After Giving Birth

The third restriction is heavy lifting.

We recommend not lifting anything heavy for at least 2 weeks after delivery.

This is especially important if you had a C-section.

This is especially important if you had a C-section.

Carrying anything heavy, or overextending yourself can put extra pressure on the incisions.

In theory, this can hinder the healing process, and even cause your stitches to open.

I discuss this in detail in the article on postnatal intensive exercise.

So how much activity is ok after giving birth?

So how much activity is ok after giving birth?

The most important thing to know is that in general, we want you to be active after you give birth.

We do NOT want you to lie in bed all day.

Therefore, if you have a smooth delivery, we want you to get up and walk around on day 1 after giving birth.

Do you really have to wait 6 weeks after giving birth to exercise?

It depends on the type of delivery you had, the type of exercise you want to do, and how active you were before giving birth.

Some women can start doing low impact exercise after 1-2 weeks.

Other women may not feel ready for at least 6 weeks.

Whatever type of activity you do, make sure to avoid any exercise that requires a lot of core strength, especially during the postpartum period.

But as always, consult your doctor for specific recommendations.

Postpartum Exercise Guidelines

The American College of OBGYN states that women can resume physical activity a few days after giving birth.

When you feel ready, you can start doing 10-minute sessions of moderate aerobic activity.

This includes things like brisk walking, cycling, etc.

You can also start adding strengthening exercises like the ones we describe here.

Any additional restrictions I should be aware of?

You may have had a problem after giving birth that requires additional restrictions.

Preeclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage, Cesarean section, DVT/PE

To learn more about these problems, see my post on the most common postpartum problems you should be aware of.

Always check with your provider for any additional restrictions.

When Can I Start Working From Home After Graduation?

In general, it is safe to wait at least 2 weeks before starting labor at home if you have a vaginal delivery.

Every woman is different and she may feel ready to do housework like vacuuming after a week or so.

If you had a C-section, it’s best to wait a little longer, maybe 3-4 weeks.

You should have a 1-2 week follow-up visit with your provider to check the status of your incision.

At this point, your service provider can provide you with more information.

How soon can I work after giving birth?

If your job is heavy or requires you to be on your feet, lift, or move around, then it’s best to wait at least 6 weeks.

Why can’t I drive after I have a baby?

You may also be told not to drive for 2 weeks after giving birth.

Driving triggers sore muscles after childbirth; These include your abdominal muscles and your perineum.

This will be especially difficult if you had a c-section.

Many women will take pain medications after giving birth.

Driving is a big no-no with painkillers in your system.

Driving often requires a lot of concentration.

The postpartum period can be a time when you are tired and sleep deprived.

If none of these conditions apply to you, you may be able to drive in less than 2 weeks.

Always check with your provider for more information.

Other Postpartum Healing Tips

These tips will help make your postpartum recovery easier.

Make sure you drink plenty of water, and eat plenty of fiber-rich foods to keep your bowel movements regular.

If you are taking narcotic pain medication, be sure to add Colace to your regimen which can be purchased on Amazon.

This medicine helps to soften your stool.

Do it as soon as you feel ready and as often as you can.

I talked about the benefits of walking in the postpartum period in my post Pregnancy Engagement.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pregnancy and childbirth are major risk factors for developing a weak pelvic floor.

I have a whole post on the best pelvic floor exercises you can do postpartum.

Childbirth is a miraculous thing.

Don’t lift heavy objects, go under water, or irritate your bowels after giving birth.

To learn more about safe exercises for the postpartum period, check out my Guide to Fitness After Pregnancy.

Notes About Postpartum Exercise

Learn what the muscles are cutting during the C-C-Section-Critical Fast Exercise

Get four free exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor and heal your mommy belly!

YES- I want the PDF!

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN, NASM certified trainer, and prenatal and postpartum fitness specialist.

Scroll to Top