Natural birth recovery


Natural birth recovery

Pregnancy is a major physical change. It takes nine months for your body to prepare to give birth, so getting back to normal will take a bit of time.

If you had a natural, vaginal birth, you can expect to recover for approximately six weeks.

While this may seem like a long time, particularly when you’re trying to care for a new baby, don’t push yourself. It’s important to follow all of your doctor’s orders and give yourself time to heal.

General dos and don’ts following your delivery

When you return home with your new baby, you should:

  • follow all of your doctor’s orders and advice
  • shower as normal
  • rest (particularly during the first week)
  • try some gentle exercises (our physiotherapists will take you through some suitable routines during your stay)
  • walk three times per day for around five to 10 minutes around the house or yard.

Some of the things you should avoid include:

  • aspirin for one week
  • heavy housework or lifting for at least six weeks
  • driving for the first week or longer (depending on when you feel comfortable)
  • straining or pushing during bowel movements
  • spas, pools and the surf
  • any activity if you feel pulling or stretching of your perineum sutures or wound.

Perineum care

Some women will experience tearing of the perineum, or will need a surgical cut (episiotomy) during their vaginal delivery. Depending on your needs, your doctor will either suture this area, or allow it to heal naturally.

If you do have stitches, they should dissolve and fall out within two weeks after the birth. Complete healing can take 10 to 12 days, but the area still may be tender.

During this time, be mindful of your wound and maintain appropriate hygiene to avoid complications or infection. You should clean your perineal area three to four times per day, particularly after emptying your bladder or bowels. Pat the area dry from front to back after washing.

You should also change your pad at least every four to six hours to keep the wound as clean as possible.

Other general tips include:

  • Protect the area by avoiding straining in any activity, particularly when using the bathroom.
  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Instead, you should rest by laying on your side.
  • Use ice packs every couple of hours. This is especially true for the first 12 to 24 hours, but feel free to continue as long as you feel this is helpful.
  • Wear supportive underwear, and avoid lifting heavy items.
  • Begin gentle exercises that focus on strengthening the pelvic floor.
  • Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fibre. This is not only good for breastfeeding mothers, but it also helps with bowel movements.
  • Stay hydrated -- drink at least two to three litres of water each day.

While you may want to do everything for your baby in the first weeks, don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help. Rely on your partner while your body heals. Family and friends can also be a great source of support. There is no shame in admitting that you need help during this time.

When to see your doctor

Before you leave Buderim Private Hospital, your doctor will review your recovery plan, and arrange a follow-up appointment with you.

We’re dedicated to supporting you, even after you return home, which is why our friendly and helpful midwives will give you a call in the first week at home to check on how you and your new baby are doing.

There are a few things you should look out for, though, and speak to your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • increases in your body temperature
  • chills and/or sweats
  • unusual or offensive wound or vaginal discharge
  • increased or persistent pain.

You should also speak to your doctor if you feel uncomfortable, or as if something is not right. We want your recovery process to be quick and positive, so you can focus on taking care of your new bub.