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What should you not do after giving birth?

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Congratulations! You’ve made it through pregnancy and labor!

Now it’s time to recover and get used to your new normal.

While you may be anxious to get back to your regular activities, there are several things you’ll need to avoid during your first 6 weeks postpartum.

Doing any of these things may harm you or your baby or prevent a quick recovery.

If you’re a first time mom, this list is for you!

Mother plays with newborn on bed.

Foods and Consumables To Avoid

There are lots of important things to know about breastfeeding, but what you eat and drink is often overlooked.

If you’re nursing or pumping, you’ll still need to be very cautious about what you put into your body. This includes foods, drugs, and alcohol.

  • Don’t overdo it with alcohol and don’t mix alcohol with unsafe medications. You’ll want to be as present as possible when caring for baby, so be cognizant of that, too!
  • Don’t eat fish that is high in mercury. Mercury can be passed through breastmilk to your baby and may cause adverse effects.
  • Don’t smoke, take un-approved medications, or any street drugs. These can all be passed to your baby through breastmilk

You should also avoid any foods that seem to adversely affect your baby. If you notice your baby is fussier after you eat certain foods, or that their tummy is upset or their stools are not normal, you should speak to your pediatrician about avoiding those items.

Typical culprits are spicy foods, chocolate, and dairy.

Activities To Avoid

While your body recovers and you experience how it feels after giving birth, you should avoid any strenuous activities, especially those that could damage stitches or cause infection.

  • Don’t take a regular bath or go swimming. Sitz baths are usually fine, but you’ll want to avoid submerging your body, getting into water with chemicals, soaps, or scents, or water from an unclean source. This is especially true for women who have c-section wounds on their abdomen.
  • Abstain from sex. You probably won’t be ready for this anyway, but even if you are this is another no-no while your body heals and gets back to normal. Even if you didn’t tear and your vagina seems fully healed, you risk a uterine infection by having intercourse before your doctor gives the OK.
  • Don’t engage in strenuous exercise or heavy lifting. You should conserve your energy for the healing process and protect your body from anything that could jeopardize your stitches and weakened muscles. Going on walks are fine after birth, but strenuous exercise should be avoided until your postpartum check-up. If you notice an increase in bleeding after walking or doing housework, stop and call your doctor.

Behaviors To Avoid

Here are some behaviors and habits to avoid for these first six weeks of recovery. These can worsen postpartum body changes that need to heal.

  • Don’t use tampons. These can cause infection and exacerbate wounds from labor.
  • Don’t strain yourself when going to the bathroom. It’s going to be really tender down there so you’ll likely have discomfort when you go number two. Don’t force yourself to go. This could pop your stitches and cause other harm to your body. Instead, be sure to use stool softeners, drink prune juice and lots of water, and take warm Sitz baths if approved by your doctor.
  • Don’t hold your pee. You might be tempted to hold your pee because it’s super uncomfortable in the beginning. However, this can cause strain on your bladder and even increase the risk of an infection in your bladder and urinary tract. Be sure to use your peri bottle after every trip to the bathroom and gently pat with toilet paper instead of wiping.

Don’t ignore warning signs

You will probably be overwhelmed with your new duties as a mother and dealing with your recovery. But it’s important to be vigilant and mindful of warning signs that could require further medical attention.

  • Don’t ignore excessive bleeding. Be cautious of excessive bleeding (bleeding through more than one pad in an hour) or large blood clots. This could be a sign of postpartum hemorrhage and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Pay attention to your mental wellbeing. If you feel extreme sadness, loneliness, disconnection, anger, or rage, you should make an appointment with your doctor to rule out postpartum depression.

Don’t be too hard on yourself!

  • Don’t expect too much. Motherhood has a steep learning curve and will have unique challenges. Things will never go exactly as planned. Be gentle with yourself and your expectations and don’t put too much pressure on any one thing!
  • Don’t neglect sleep and self-care. Pay attention to your body cues. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Drink lots of water. Get help from those around you. Remember that it’s okay to take a break, go for a walk, paint your nails, do something that makes you feel human!

Here are even more tips for the first time mom, from pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond!

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