For you to get back to work and do some normal exercises, it might take 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth. This period of physical recovery is crucial to avoid complications and help make sure that your performance will come back to pre-pregnancy levels as soon as possible.
Whether it’s a caesarean or vaginal delivery, it will be difficult, almost impossible or dangerous to move around especially during the first week of postpartum. Aside from the pain, incision and bleeding, this first week of recovery is also important for your health monitoring (such as regularly checking your temperature and other symptoms for uterine and kidney infection).
In the second up to the fifth week, movement becomes easier and more comfortable. Walking around a bit is now possible but still be gentle with yourself. There will still be some struggle and discomfort because you’re not fully healed yet. It’s crucial that you always take it slow, eat healthy and get sleep as much as you can. Getting enough rest and having a proper diet becomes easier if there’s someone to help you especially when it comes to your home chores.
In the sixth week, you can now do some slow exercises and perform most of your job functions and related tasks (such as driving and lifting something other than your newborn). Your doctor might have already cleared you to safely go back to work. However, it still depends on your health condition as well as your job functions and responsibilities. If your job is physically strenuous or in a hazardous workplace, you should take more weeks of break or make a safer working arrangement. Ask your doctor about this so you’ll know all the risks and talk with your employer to make such arrangements. If you’re running a business and it heavily depends on you, it helps to delegate most of the heavy tasks and focus instead on strategy or connecting with your most profitable products or customers.
We’ve talked about the weeks of rest and physical recovery. However, while physically slowing down you’ll still always feel a sense of overwhelm because of this new chapter in your life and the rapid transition (plus other concerns such as COVID-19, restrictions and lockdowns). And because of the hormonal and other biochemical changes in your body, your mental health and emotions will also be affected.
Many mums become sad and anxious days, weeks and even after months of giving birth. This is a natural consequence of the huge and rapid fluctuations in your estrogen, progesterone and oxytocin levels throughout the day. Also, your brain is still busy processing what’s happening and you’re still trying to figure out what to do next or even what to think about.
It’s emotionally difficult which is why you should take it slow and regularly talk to a family member or a friend. In times of overwhelm, sadness or guilt, it’s crucial to talk it out instead of processing it all in your head. Also, keep in mind that recovery takes time (it might even take a year before you start feeling totally normal again). Surely you’ll do an amazing job of being a mum if you keep yourself healthy and you think about and do things just one at a time.