As a new mama, it can feel as though there are lots of rules about what you should and shouldn’t be doing after giving birth.
From the moment you announced you were pregnant, people told you what to eat and how to exercise.
Now you’re a new mama, they’re telling you how to look after your baby, too.
If you thought giving birth was going to be the difficult part, you might be feeling overwhelmed right now.
Please don’t feel as though this article is adding to the list of so-called rules.
This is just a little bit of fun, and we hope it will give you a lot of reassurance you’re doing a great job.
Read on to find out 21 things you should not do after giving birth.
#1: Don’t be shocked by your bump
If you were expecting to have your body back straight after the birth, you might be a little surprised to find it’s still not back to normal. The baby might have vacated your body, but the bump is still very much there.
After the birth, you will still have a bump, although it will look a little deflated. It takes time for your postpartum belly to shrink away, so don’t worry.
Remember, it takes weeks for your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size. Postpartum recovery takes time. You can’t rush nature; you need to give your body time to heal.
#2: Don’t feel pressured to see people
You will only have one chance to enjoy these first few days with your newborn baby. Don’t squander them trying to please other people. As a new mother, you should try to ignore their ideas of what you should be doing.
If you want to invite people over to show off your new baby, that’s great. But there’s nothing wrong with battening down the hatches and enjoying your newborn bubble before sharing your baby with the world.
It’s perfectly ok to tell people you’re not ready for visitors just yet. Give your body time to heal and just bond with your new baby. Take the time to allow for your postpartum recovery and find your footing as a new mama.
And when you’re ready to have people over, make sure they’ve read 10 Big Tips For Visiting A New Baby – And Being Asked Back!
#3: Don’t overdo it
Just because you feel like you could run a marathon, it doesn’t mean you should. The same applies to cleaning the house, tackling the laundry, and cooking a three-course meal.
If the only thing you’ve achieved by the end of your day is keeping yourself and your baby alive, then that’s absolutely fine.
Growing and birthing a baby is no easy feat. Sit down and put your feet up. Whether you had a c-section or a vaginal birth, your body will definitely need time to recover.
Snuggle down with your baby and enjoy some newborn cuddles while you inhale the gorgeous smell of your baby’s head. Your body has worked hard over the past few months; repay it now with a few days of relaxation.
#4: Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you read the point above and thought, “Pah! Then nothing will get done”, then this one is for you.
You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Ask for help. And if that’s too scary, show family and friends this article about how to help new parents. Then let them decide how to help you.
Instead of going to the shop, ask friends to pick up some groceries on their way to visit you.
Instead of doing the laundry, ask your partner to put a load in, hang it out and then fold it.
Instead of washing up, let your mother do it when she calls in to meet her new grandchild.
Your life will be a lot easier if you ask for help when you need it. And those around you will be happy to help.
#5: Don’t rush to get back to normal life
If you’re desperate to get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans and sip cocktails with friends, you might be feeling impatient during the postpartum recovery period. Try not to worry. You don’t feel like yourself right now but you will get your life back – just not right away.
The first three months of postpartum life are often referred to as the fourth trimester of pregnancy. Try to imagine this time as an extension of your pregnancy.
Give yourself and your baby a little bit of extra time to adjust before you rush back to everyday life.
Snuggle up in your nest and let life slow down a little. The days might feel endless, but this phase will be over before you know it.
One day soon, you’ll be sipping cocktails with your friends again but, for now, you are here.
#6: Don’t think naps are just for babies
There’s a reason why everyone tells you to sleep when your baby sleeps.
It’s not because they’re trying to annoy you (although they probably are); it’s because they remember how bone-tired they felt when they were looking after a newborn.
Babies are famously rubbish at sleeping at night. They’re born party animals, and it will take a while before they figure out that nighttimes are for sleeping.
That’s why you’ll spend a lot of time awake at night, so it makes sense to catch up on sleep during the day.
There is no shame in napping. Sleep is probably the most important thing for you right now. It’ll lift your mood and help you feel a little better.
If you’ve had a bad night, make napping your priority for the next day.
Get some sleep any time you can. Sleep in the morning when your partner gets up with the baby, or nap in the afternoon.
Don’t give yourself a list of jobs to do during baby’s nap time. Catching up on your sleep is more important.
Just rest. You won’t regret it.
#7: Don’t use tampons
Tampons can increase your risk of infection if used too soon after giving birth.
You should avoid tampons for the first six weeks after giving birth.
Instead, choose maternity pads, sanitary towels, or reusable cloth sanitary towels for your postpartum bleeding. New on the market is underwear that is absorbent and can be washed and re-worn – if that takes your fancy.
Wait until you’ve had the all-clear from your health care provider before using tampons again.
#8: Don’t forget to do your pelvic floor exercises
You probably don’t feel like putting your undercarriage through a rigorous training regime right now, but pelvic floor exercises could actually help you to heal faster.
You can start these exercises as soon as you feel ready after the birth. Pelvic floor exercises can reduce swelling, increase oxygen flow to the area and encourage healing after birth.
Hopefully, you’re already a pro, but if you didn’t master them during pregnancy, it’s not too late to start now.
If you had a c-section, you’ll still need to do your pelvic floor exercises. Your pelvic floor takes a beating during pregnancy, no matter how your baby is born, so get it back into shape by doing regular exercises.
Try to do your pelvic floor exercises each time your babies feeds, that way you’ll be getting plenty of exercises in. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to do your exercises several times a day.
Check out 7 Great Times To Do Your Pelvic Floor Exercises for more tips.
#9: Don’t get dressed
Dress for comfort and keep those pyjamas on, if you like.
You don’t need to be anywhere or see anybody if you don’t want to.
Your health care provider won’t mind if you’re in your pyjamas when she turns up for your postnatal visit. In fact, she’ll be thrilled to see you’re resting.
Pregnancy and birth take it out of you physically and emotionally, so take some time to heal and rest comfortably.
A postnatal month is a great reason to stay in your PJs (maybe not the same ones) as much as you can.
Don’t dismiss the postpartum recovery time; even if you feel fine, it will help your body to rest.
BellyBelly midwife, Sarah Smith, says:
“The first few days and weeks following birth are precious and cannot be replaced. So get those pjs on, stick your feet up, and allow others to look after you”.
#10: Don’t pretend to be ok
It’s ok not to be ok. You’ve just given birth and you will need time to recover.
You’re finding your feet as a new mama which isn’t an easy thing to do. And you’re doing it while your hormones go crazy and you’re getting no sleep.
The early days of motherhood aren’t easy. They are overwhelming and it’s ok to admit you’re finding it tough.
The people around you want to help, even if it’s only with words of encouragement. Be honest about your feelings and let them help you.
If you’re worried you could be experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, call your doctor or midwife for advice. They are best placed to offer you the support you need to look after yourself and your baby.
Postpartum depression isn’t uncommon and your health care provider has seen it countless times before, so ask your doctor for help. The sooner you get help, the better, so call your doctor as soon as possible.
#11: Don’t have sex
Don’t rush into having sex again.
Your body needs time to recover after giving birth, whether you had a planned c section or a vaginal birth. You should wait until you feel ready.
You will feel sore and swollen after giving birth, and sex is likely to be uncomfortable if you have it too soon. Your uterus might be still cramping and you could be bleeding, on and off, for six weeks.
Wait until you have stopped bleeding and feel as though you are ready for sexual intimacy again.
There’s no need to rush back into bed. The postpartum hormonal changes and breastfeeding hormones might affect your libido, so you could find you’re not in the mood for sex just yet. That’s ok, take your time.
You can read more about this in Sex After Giving Birth – 10 Things You Should Know.
Before you start to have sex again, you should talk to your doctor about birth control. Your doctor should initiate this conversation with you at around six weeks postpartum.
You can get pregnant before your periods return, so make sure you use birth control when you start having sex again (unless you are planning to get pregnant very soon).
#12: Don’t give up on breastfeeding without seeking professional help
Lactation consultant, Emily Brittingham says:
“The most common reason mothers do not meet their breastfeeding goals is because they believe their babies are not getting enough milk.
“Normal newborn behavior is often mistaken for hunger, which can lead a mother to believe her breastmilk is not enough to meet her baby’s needs.
“Babies breastfeed not only for hunger but for comfort too. That little person shared your body a short time ago, and it’s completely normal for them to want to constantly be close to you!
“Seeking help from a professional who specializes in breastfeeding (such as an IBCLC) can help you recognize the reliable signs that your baby is getting enough milk, and assist you in smoothing out any breastfeeding difficulties you might be having”.
Be sure to visit BellyBelly’s section on breastfeeding for plenty of advice and support.
#13: Don’t obsess about sleep
Easier said than done, right? But just because you’re not getting much sleep now, doesn’t mean you never will again. You will.
Babies aren’t great at day and night. It’s going to take a while for your baby to figure out that nighttimes are for sleeping.
It’s normal for your baby to wake in the night. It’s also normal for babies to feed regularly during the night.
Make these normal newborn behaviors easier on yourself by catching up on rest anytime you can.
#14: Don’t strain to poop
If you’ve had stitches, straining is the last thing you want to be doing.
Whether you had a c-section or perineal stitches, you’ll want to take extra care when visiting the bathroom.
Understandably, many new mamas feel anxious about their first postpartum poop.
Try to relax and don’t overthink it. Go when you feel the urge, and take your time.
To avoid straining, make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s rich in fresh fruits and veggies.
Avoid foods that cause constipation (such as processed grains), and be sure to drink enough water. Having a squirt bottle nearby will remind you.
Speak to your health care professional for advice if you are struggling to poop after giving birth.
For extra information, be sure to read The First Postpartum Poop – 10 Things You Need To Know.
#15: Don’t ignore your gut instinct
As a brand new parent, it can be challenging to tune into your gut instinct.
You might dismiss it as needless worrying or a lack of confidence, but your gut instinct is a powerful tool, and you shouldn’t ignore it.
Remember, you are the expert when it comes to your baby. Nobody knows your baby better than you.
Let your mother’s instinct guide you.
BellyBelly’s Doula, Sam McCulloch, says:
“Trust your instincts about what’s ‘right’ for you and your baby. Some mums feel they should parent in a particular way and set themselves up for a lot of stress trying to fit themselves and their baby into something that doesn’t work for them.
“Let go of your preconceptions about how parenting should look. Trust your instincts and remember, you are primed to respond to your baby’s needs”.
#16: Don’t shy away from photos
You look tired, none of your clothes fit right, and you haven’t done your hair. Yes, all of this is true, but you still shouldn’t shy away from photos right now.
These are the newborn days; nobody looks perfect during this time.
Those tired eyes and greasy hair are must-haves when it comes to postpartum style.
Take as many photos of you and your baby as you can.
Don’t worry about how you look. One day you will look back on these photos and remember how tired you were and how full your heart was.
Ask your partner to take candid shots of you with your baby, not just posed photos.
One day, when you are old and grey, you will look back on these photos and be amazed at how young and beautiful you were.
#17: Don’t judge your body
This ties in with the last point. If you’re looking at photos of you holding your baby and not seeing a great mama in love with her adorable baby, you’re being too harsh on yourself.
Don’t look down at your deflating bump and feel bad about it. Don’t judge your stretch marks or your eye bags or any of the other changes your strong, amazing body has gone through during pregnancy.
Your body is a thing of wonder and it deserves to be celebrated. Look at the perfect baby your body gave you. Start celebrating your body and everything it has been through.
#18: Don’t forget about you
Your baby is probably taking up most of your time and energy right now. You’re so busy making sure your baby is fed, clean and happy, that you forget all about yourself.
Put your partner in charge of mothering you and making sure you are being looked after, too.
Eat well, drink enough water, and try to rest when you can.
It’s essential to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your baby.
If you need to escape, for a warm bath and some downtime, just do it.
But remember, self-care isn’t just bubble baths and candles. It’s also about giving yourself mental space to tune into yourself and focus on what makes you feel good or helps you relax.
You can’t run on empty. Keep your self-care tank topped up.
#19: Don’t listen to unsolicited advice
You didn’t ask for it and you certainly don’t have to listen to it. Unfortunately, receiving unsolicited advice is very much a part of parenting.
You’ve probably been getting regular doses of it since you announced your pregnancy.
It’s ok to ignore unsolicited advice.
You are the expert when it comes to your baby and you’re the one responsible for your baby.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by unsolicited advice, it’s ok to ask people to stop giving it. Kindly tell them you’ll ask for advice when you want it but, until then, they should keep their opinions to themselves.
Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about something you’ve been told. Your doctor can help you work out which advice is right for you.
#20: Don’t believe social media
Every time you see photos of glamorous new moms holding their perfectly presented newborn babies in their sparkling clean show homes, just remind yourself that this is the highlights reel.
Don’t compare perfectly crafted social media photos with your reality.
Influencer moms have the same problems as you do; they just don’t photograph them.
If social media mamas are making you feel bad about yourself, unfollow them or take a break from social media. They are flogging an unachievable dream.
There are plenty of influencers who show the reality of motherhood, with its sore nipples and sleepless nights, so seek out those women instead.
#21: Don’t downplay your achievements
Your life might look different from the way it did a year ago, but that doesn’t mean your achievements aren’t worth celebrating. While you’re home looking after a baby, you should celebrate your achievements.
Soothed your crying baby? You’re absolutely killing it!
Breastfed your baby in public for the first time? Give yourself a round of applause.
Felt like you knew what you were doing and didn’t panic once? Yes!
Motherhood is hard work and you should take the time to recognize and appreciate how your hard work had paid off.
Having a baby is a big shock to the system. These newborn days aren’t easy. This, right here, is the hardest bit.
Remember, others like you don’t know what they’re doing either. They might look confident and calm, but inside they’re just as clueless as you are.
Everybody is winging it.
The more time you spend with your baby, and the more you get to know each other, the easier it will be.
Pay attention to your wins and learn from your mistakes. And you will make mistakes – lots of them; that’s how you learn.
You are doing your best and that is more than enough.
Don’t worry! Your baby is lucky to have you; you are your baby’s world.
You got this, mama – even if it doesn’t always feel like it.