New moms may be eager to get back to swimming after birth, especially if it’s the summertime. But there are really good reasons you shouldn’t rush to the swimming pool. Here’s the why behind the guidelines for Postpartum Swimming after Birth.
Have you been dreaming since birth about soaking in a hot tub or even a hot bubble bath? Or maybe enjoying a swim on vacation? There are important guidelines to consider before deciding to make that first postpartum plunge. Here’s what to consider for postpartum swimming after birth.
It wasn’t until after the birth of my first baby that I wondered why it was recommended only to shower as a postpartum mama. And why couldn’t I sit in a tub, but I could sit on a sitz bath? So I asked around, did my own research, and realized that with my second-degree vaginal laceration, there was a risk of infection in still waters.
First off, let’s establish what some of us may already know, swimming in a pool is a great way to improve mental health. Like other exercises, it can decrease postpartum blues (baby blues) and postnatal depression (postpartum depression) thanks to the release of oxytocin and dopamine.
Water activities are a form of low-impact exercise. Swim workouts also provide gentle weight loss and are kind to our joints and recovering bodies.
Why would exercise be ok but not swimming for exercise?
Guidelines for Exercise
There are many benefits of exercise to the postpartum woman. It’s always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider before starting these after childbirth. Most will agree that gentle exercise (or low-impact exercise) like brisk walking, kegel exercises, etc, are safe to start immediately. High-impact exercise (like running or HIIT), on the other hand, may need to wait for several weeks.
The types of exercises you choose are important. After vaginal or cesarean birth, the abdominal muscles are learning to move back in place. In a vaginal birth, the pelvic floor muscles are recovering. Physical activity that includes pelvic floor exercises and modified regular exercises can help the pelvic floor muscles heal more quickly.
Don’t push exercising before you feel ready. The first weeks are best for spending time with your new baby. Don’t rush your healing process of recovery. It’s ok to focus on drinking plenty of fluids, getting proper nutrition, and learning what it’s like to be a first time mother.
Postpartum Swimming After Birth
Type of Delivery
Swimming after a Cesarean Section
If you had a cesarean delivery, it’s a good idea to wait until your c-section incision has zero drainage, your steri strips or staples have been removed, and vaginal discharge has stopped before swimming. The good news is that vaginal discharge tends to stop a couple of weeks sooner with a c-section than with a vaginal birth. A c-section mama may be able to return to a pool a bit quicker than a vaginal birth mama thanks to this. With a caesarean section, it is usually safe to return to swimming at 4 weeks given that the guidelines mentioned have been met.
Swimming after a Vaginal Delivery
Swimming or soaking in a tub may increase the risk of infection for postpartum women as long as they are experiencing postnatal bleeding (called lochia). When we give birth, our cervix must dilate ten centimeters to allow our baby to be born. It takes several weeks to close completely. Once our placenta is delivered, it leaves a large wound where it attached to our uterus. All of this needs time to heal before swimming.
Vaginal lacerations or episiotomies should also be considered. These are wounds that were repaired with stitches and need time to mend properly. Soaking in water too soon can lead to infections in these wounds, and even in our uterus if our cervix hasn’t closed.
Postpartum Swimming After Birth
As a general rule of thumb, most healthcare providers recommend you wait at least 4-6 weeks before swimming after having your baby, no matter if you had a vaginal birth or c-section delivery.
If you are unsure when to swim, you can wait until your six-week postpartum visit (postnatal check-up) and ask your doctor or midwife.
Can I go swimming 3 weeks after giving birth?
Most healthcare providers recommend waiting at least 4-6 weeks to swim. Reasons it may be okay for you to take the postpartum plunge sooner would be if you have stopped bleeding and if you had zero stitches after giving birth. I personally would be uncomfortable with swimming in a lake for several weeks, but more comfortable with giving a personal pool a try.
Mama, how is your mood lately? Maybe you have experienced emotional upheaval or depression, but don’t feel it’s enough to go on medication. Hormonal changes may be to blame. Here are 13 proven and natural ways to fight depression in motherhood.
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