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Postpartum Health


Over the past nine months, your body has gone through a lot of changes in the development of your baby. But once you give birth, how long will it take for your body to "get back to normal"? Typically, if your pregnancy was healthy and you didn't have complications during delivery, you should expect your recovery period to last about six weeks. C-sections tend to take longer to heal than vaginal deliveries.

Resuming Physical Activities

Although you will need to check with your doctor before resuming any of the following activities, typically you can begin driving about a week after delivery (or two weeks after a C-section), light exercising after about two weeks (or six weeks for C-section), and after your six-week exam you should be able to resume most other physical activities, including most exercises and sexual intercourse.

Eating a Healthy Diet

You still need to eat nutritious foods, especially if you are breastfeeding, but you will need to decrease your caloric intake. Make sure to get plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat dairy and lean meats, fish and beans. Limit your intake of junk food.

According to WebMD, eat "reasonable quantities of healthy food 2,200 calories a day if you're bottlefeeding and 2,500 calories a day if you're breastfeeding. Your body requires a steady supply of healthy food in order to do all the important postpartum repair work it needs to do and (if you're breastfeeding) to meet the ongoing nutritional needs of your baby."

Getting Back in Shape

Once your physician has approved an exercise routine, begin slowly with light aerobic activity such as walking or swimming. Avoid high-impact aerobic activity. Start light toning exercises such as abdominal crunches and stretching. Tone your pelvic floor muscles by performing Kegels (tighten your pelvic muscles as if you're stopping urine flow).

Losing the Pregnancy Pounds

Typically, you should be able to lose your pregnancy weight by following a healthy diet and exercise routine. Don't try to overdo your weight loss plan. Be patient with yourself. You can expect to lose about 10 pounds during delivery (which includes the baby's weight, plus loss of the amniotic fluid and placenta). You'll also lose quite a bit of weight during your first week after childbirth from losing additional fluids. The rest of your weight can be attributed to fat storage. A healthy goal is losing a half pound a week. You may find that it takes six months or longer to return to your pre-pregnancy weight. While you may be anxious to speed up the weight loss process, don't cut your calories to an unsafe level or skip meals. Keeping a healthy, steady consumption of food will provide the nutrients you need without wreaking havoc on your metabolism.

Medical information within this site is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of any health condition. Please consult a licensed health care professional for the treatment or diagnosis of any medical condition.

Sources: University of Maryland Medical Center/ A.D.A.M.

Mayo Clinic

WebMD

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