Giving birth is an intimidating process and something that most (if not all) mother’s dread the thought of. The precious gift you get at the end of it all is so worth it. But my goodness is the process of labor and delivery not only exhausting, but the damage it does to the body is pretty impeccable. You now have this little life that is entirely dependent on you for survival, but you yourself are a mess of fluctuating emotions, bleeding, rips in your lady parts, and sleep deprivation like you’ve never experienced before. This post is focused on you, momma. While that precious, vulnerable little life is important, so are you. A healthy you leads to a happier and healthier baby, so taking care to make sure you are healthy and recovered is a priority. That’s why I’ve put together this post to provide some guidance of recovering after a natural birth. This will focus mostly on vaginal delivery being I haven’t experienced a C-section. In a later article I’ll focus on that, but I need to do more research to make sure I provide you with accurate and valuable information.

loose clothes for morning sickness

How long does it take to recover after a natural birth?

This question doesn’t have a one size fits all answer, and that’s because labor and delivery (L&D) is very different for every momma. Some moms experience little to no tearing and are walking out of the hospital ready to run a marathon, while others experience 4th degree tears or end up with an episiotomy and can’t poop without pain for weeks. That said, the general rule of thumb is 6 weeks for a vaginal birth. That means you give your pelvic floor a chance to recover along with your abdominal muscles. It also means everything gets a chance to shrink back down to pre-pregnancy size. This means you are not supposed to exercise (aside from a light walking) unless cleared by your doctor. Also means you should not have sex or use tampons due to risk of infection and ripping stitches. At your 6 week checkup, your doctor will evaluate you and determine if you are at a point where you’re safe to resume normal activity. Some people experience pain and discomfort, as well as issues with incontinence for months or years post delivery but you can do some things to ease your recovery.

What can I do to help aid my recovery?

1. Listen to your doctor

I know a lot of people that rush back into exercising post baby because they are worried about losing that baby weight. The caveat being, if you rush into exercising prior to being fully healed, you run the risk of injuring yourself further. This which could prolong your recovery. Listen to your doctor’s suggestions and if you are really antsy to get back into it prior to your follow-up appointment, get in touch with them. You may be able to start exercising earlier but that should be determined by your health care provider.

2. Warm baths

Soaking in a warm bath can aid in your comfort during these times of pain and discomfort. Whether it be a sitz bath or a good soak in the tub, this can help provide some relief and also be stress relieving during this life-changing time.

3. Ice, Ice, Baby!

In that first day or two post delivery, icing your lady parts can provide a lot of relief to the perineum area which is either extremely stretched or maybe even torn after delivery. Ice every couple hours can help reduce swelling and help with discomfort.

4. Try to stay regular

That first ‘post baby poop’ can be frightening. I know I asked my nurses about it about 20 times before I left the hospital with my daughter. They reassured me that it wouldn’t be as bad as you’d think, and that if you eat high fiber foods, stay hydrated, and take stool softeners early on, that would really ease things. Now, I know talking about poop is socially frowned upon, but it is a real concern for many moms. From mom to mom, it’s not that bad. Get some stool softeners and drink a LOT of water early on, especially if you are breastfeeding.

5. Breastfeed

I am not trying to push breast is best, but breastfeeding can help speed up your healing process. The hormone oxytocin is released when breastfeeding, and this hormone helps to contract the uterus back to it’s pre-birth size. It is an essential lactation hormone so breastfeeding will aid in this shrinking process. When I was in the hospital, I experienced severe cramping while breastfeeding. Lactation consultants told me that it is a good sign because it means that the hormones are doing what they are supposed to do. What are these hormones supposed to do? Help your uterus contract, which will shrink your baby belly and get you on the road to recovery. Not only that but it’ll help you lose weight faster. You burn about 500 calories additional a day while breastfeeding. This is actually MORE than you burned while pregnant. Incentive yet?

6. Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises are contracting of your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are responsible for urinary incontinence, the ‘shape’ of your vagina, and also impact sexual experiences. If you do kegels, it can help speed up the recovery by strengthening these muscles that have been abused through the labor and delivery process.

Baby being breastfed with breastmilk

7. Take care of the nips

The whole ‘free the nips’ campaign is great and all, but during this time you’ll probably want all the support you can get. When milk supply comes in it can be a very uncomfortable time. I seriously struggled with engorgement for at least a week and let me tell you, that is one uncomfortable feeling that you wouldn’t ever expect until you’ve experienced it. Not only that but your nipples will need to get calloused. This can take a few weeks so in those first few weeks, breastfeeding may be something you dread. Take care by using lanolin or other nipple cream, hydrogel pads, a good nursing bra (these are the ones I loved, and affordable!), epsom salt soaking, and work with a lactation consultant near you to ensure baby has a good latch.

8. Peri Bottle and numbing spray- USE IT.

You’ll likely be going home from the hospital with a peri bottle, which is just a condiment bottle with a spray-like top. This will be your best friend for the next few weeks if you had a vaginal delivery. Spray a bit before you pee and after. It will aid in the burning as well as reduce the amount of wiping that is necessary. You want to keep the area clean but wiping can be extremely painful so spraying with warm water can do the job. There’s a reason that bidets are so popular in Europe! 🙂

9. Manage pain with OTC pain relief

Your doctor will likely give you directions on how to manage pain at home, but typically they recommend acetaminophen and ibuprofen alternation to aid in pain management. Talk to your doctor about what safe doses are, especially if you are breastfeeding.

10. Vaginal discomfort management

It is recommended if you experience discomfort to sit on a ring pillow or even the c-shaped breastfeeding pillows. It’ll help take some of the pressure off the area until it is recovered enough to sit normally.

11. Postpartum mood swings

While the first two weeks post-delivery are generally accompanied with a rollercoaster of emotions, if it persists it could be a sign of postpartum depression (PPD). Don’t cancel those follow-up appointments as your doctor will evaluate you for early signs of PPD. You can’t be your best mom if you are struggling with PPD so early identification is important for management.


12. Exercise

If you had a non-complicated delivery you can likely start walking as soon as you get home. Other exercise can be started as cleared by your doctor. Exercise is important to help boost energy and mood, promote better sleeping, as well as help losing the baby weight. If you can walk outdoors with your baby, it will also do good for both of you to get fresh air. Be sure to take it slow, your body changed a lot with pregnancy, so it’s very likely you will not be where you were prior to baby physically. I’ve seen testimonials from big fitness trainers including Kayla Itsines, who’ve said they have had to go back to beginner levels after birth, so don’t feel ashamed.

13. Loose clothes, mesh undies, and big ol’ pads are your friends

While none of these may be overly appealing, you should really take advantage of wearing comfortable loose clothing for the next few weeks. It’s very likely your pre-baby clothes won’t fit yet anyway, so don’t rush to get back into those favorite jeans. The mesh undies and massive pads are your friends. Regardless if you delivered vaginally or c-section, you’ll experience the heavy bleeding post birth. Take advantage of those mesh undies and pads from the hospital. Once you run out, don’t try to get back into thongs just yet. Granny panties and pads until that bleeding is done (which could be up to 6 weeks) and all is healed up down there.

14. Rest

This may seem like a foreign concept with a newborn at home, but this is the age where they are perfectly content to just lay with you or in a bassinet while you lay down. Take advantage of these times and rest. You’ll likely be up 3-5 times overnight, so sleep while you can. The more rest your body gets, the more time it has to repair and recover.

Sleeping Baby activities, tummy time

These are a lot of common sense tasks but things you really need to prioritize if you want to heal up and be healthy as soon as possible. This is an overwhelming time, but also a very special time as you get to start to build a lifelong bond with your baby. Take full advantage of the baby snuggles, the new baby smell, and the sweet feeling of comfort of your new baby. The time goes by so fast, though you may not feel like it in the heat of it all. As they say, ‘the nights are long, but the years go fast’, so try to take it all in.

Related Posts

Breastfeeding 101: 10 Reasons to Breastfeed
Introducing Baby to Pets
Boosting Milk Supply



I’d love to know if you had any additional tips and tricks you found to help your recovery. Anything on this list surprise you? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll come back again.