You’ve recently given birth and you are thinking about your own postpartum recovery. Your body is feeling a little bit better, but you’re still sore and not feeling quite like yourself. How long is it going to take to fully heal after giving birth?
The #1 thing to consider is that it could (and will most likely) take longer than you thought to heal physically and mentally after birth. If you heal quickly, yay! That’s wonderful. But I am here to give realistic expectations for postpartum recovery to mamas. Most often, women make an appointment with me because their postpartum recovery is taking a lot longer than they thought and they need additional support.
Here are four realistic timelines to think about during your postpartum recovery.
Consider this the first few days after giving birth. These first few days you will want to be resting a lot. Your body will be sore and you may feel lethargic and weak since you lost a lot of fluids during birth. It’s best to stay in bed, or at least off your feet, as much as you can while you regain strength.
The first 40 days after giving birth
In cultures around the world that have postpartum healing traditions, the first 40 days are viewed as a sacred time for mom and baby. It’s the most important time for supporting the mom in her own postpartum recovery.
It’s during this time that your body is going through the most significant healing process and you need the most support. Unfortunately in our culture, most women aren’t getting support from their healthcare team until their 6 week check-up. That’s why I work with women to set up postpartum healing plans while they are pregnant to give them a holistic plan for this early postpartum recovery.
During this first month, you want to focus on lots of down-time, nourishing food and rebuilding your reserves. Even if you are feeling like you have a lot of energy, it’s still important to have a slow lifestyle because you don’t want to burn out later, particularly if you have to go back to work a few months after giving birth.
You may have older kids you need to take care of or you may need to go back to work earlier than expected. If this is the case, seek ways to get support that allow you to have a break from daily errands. Consider getting groceries delivered, set up playdates for older children or hire some help for this short amount of time. Yes, I know it can be more expensive, but your health and well-being are worth it!
The first three months after giving birth
This is known as the fourth trimester. And for good reason! During these months your body is continuing to shift and recover in many ways and you and your baby are doing a lot of bonding. Your energy and lifestyle may be increasing but it should still be slow. Again, my goal is to help you avoid burnout and overwhelm so even if you have a lot of energy, continue to keep your lifestyle slow so that your body can continue to recover sufficiently.
The first full year after giving birth
Within this time, you may feel like your body has healed well, or it still needs a lot of support. It’s important to listen to what your body is telling you during this year. Do you need more support for your mental health? Does your pelvic floor need support to get rid of incontinence? Do your hormones need support so you aren’t as irritable throughout the month?
I will share a secret with you as well. For a lot of women, they find themselves struggling with their health even after the first year. If that is you, I want you to know that there is support and it is a possibility for you to heal and feel like yourself again.