The first six weeks after you give birth are usually the hardest, but depending on what happened during birth, the time it takes to feel normal again will differ.
If you had an uncomplicated, unassisted birth, with no tears or grazes, you should start to feel less need for rest after around one to three weeks. It's very individual.
With any birth you need to be careful with hygiene, changing your maternity pad often and washing your hands before and after the toilet. Your post-birth bleeding (lochia) usually continues up until about six weeks after birth.
If you had a tear, an episiotomy, stitches or a graze, it could take up to six weeks for you to start seeing an improvement in how this area feels. If pain starts to increase or you notice that you’re feeling unwell, this could be a sign of infection, so contact your midwife, health visitor or GP.
It’s usual to feel a bit exhausted after you’ve given birth as your entire body has been through a very intense workout! Some women find that regular baths and showers help their muscles to loosen up. You will lose a lot of water from your body as your body gets used to no longer being pregnant. You may find that you have a slight swelling in your arms and legs, so drink plenty of water to help your body flush out all the fluid. Resting with your legs raised can help with swollen ankles.
Pelvic floor muscles work hard during pregnancy, and need to flatten completely to allow a baby to be born vaginally. In addition, you may have had a cut or tear which affected these muscles. You are likely to need both time and regular pelvic floor exercise to bring strength back to this area. If you managed regular pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, then these will be even more useful now. If not, now is the time to start!
Pelvic floor exercises are imporant to help the muscles around your vagina to stay strong and avoid any problems with leaking from your bladder or bowel.
Regularly exercising the pelvic floor muscles will help with healing. For more information on this, take a look at our pelvic health section.