Postpartum: First 6 Weeks After Childbirth - Health and Nutrition
It is easy to get too tired and overwhelmed during the first weeks after childbirth. Take it easy on yourself. Get rest whenever you can, accept help from others, and eat well and drink plenty of fluids.
Like pregnancy, the newborn period can be a time of excitement, joy, and exhaustion. You may look at your wondrous little baby and feel happy. You may also be overwhelmed by your new sleep hours and new responsibilities.
Make time to rest.
- Rest every day. Try to nap when your baby
naps. Stay flexible so you can eat at odd hours and sleep when
you need to.
- Ask another adult to be with you for a few days after
- Plan for child care if you have other
small trips to get out of the house. Change can make you feel less
- Ask for help with housework, cooking, and shopping. Remind
yourself that your job is to care for your baby.
Sexuality, fertility, and birth control
Your body needs time to heal after childbirth. This can take about 4 to 6 weeks, but it's different for each woman. Avoid
sexual intercourse and putting anything in your vagina (including tampons) until
you have stopped bleeding. Your doctor will let you when it's okay to have intercourse.
menstrual cycle—and your ability to become pregnant again—will return at
your body's own pace. Remember that you can
ovulate and get pregnant during the month
before your first menstrual period, as early as 3 weeks after childbirth. If you don't want to become pregnant right away,
use birth control even if you are breast-feeding.
- If you don't breast-feed, your menstrual
periods may begin within a month or two after delivery.
- If you
breast-feed full-time, your periods will probably not resume for a few months.
The average among women who breast-feed exclusively is 8 months. But
breast-feeding is not a dependable method of birth control. For more
Breast-Feeding as Birth Control.
Most methods of birth control are safe and effective after delivery. But in the first couple of weeks after delivery or if you are breast-feeding, it's best to use a method that doesn't contain estrogen. Talk to your doctor about which type is
best for you. For more information, see the topic
Eating a variety of healthy food is important to help you keep your energy and lose extra weight you gained during your pregnancy. Eat healthy foods so you have more energy, make
good breast milk, and lose extra baby pounds.
- Eat a variety of foods to help you get all the nutrients you need. Your body needs protein, carbohydrate, and fats for energy.
- Eat a diet high in fiber. Include foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals, raw vegetables, raw and dried fruits, and beans.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
- Eat small snacks throughout the day to keep up your energy. Don't skip meals or go for long periods without eating.
- If you're breast-feeding, a healthy diet also can help you make milk. For more information, see Nutrition While Breast-Feeding.
- If you breast-feed,
avoid alcohol and drugs. Stay smoke-free. If you quit during pregnancy,
For more information on eating well, see the topic Healthy Eating.