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When can you leave the house after giving birth: Everything new mamas need to know

A new mum with a newborn baby

Wondering how long you need to stay in the house after giving birth to your baby?

The answer to this question is whenever you are ready! You can go out for a walk or pop to the shops within days of giving birth if you feel up to it. 

Deciding when you leave the house after giving birth should not be planned and written in stone in advance before you have your baby. 

It’s very much dependent on a few factors such as: 

  • What type of birth you had
  • How you physically feel
  • How you mentally feel

If you have a C-section walking long distances may be tricky for the first few weeks. If you have a vaginal birth you may still feel extremely tired – and sore – a few days after birth. 

On the other hand, a short walk to get some fresh air may be just what you feel like a few days after giving birth. 

I remember taking my first walk outside of the house after giving birth around six days after giving birth. This was a very short walk and probably only lasted around 20 minutes in total out of the house. 

It was just nice to get outside and feel the sun on my face for a few minutes!

However I was glad to be back at home and in my PJs as well! 

I think there’s a lot to be said for pulling up the drawbridge and taking some time to just relax at home. But you shouldn’t restrict yourself – if you want to get outside then do it! 

New mum after giving birth to baby in hospital

What is postpartum confinement period?

Turn the clock back several decades and people talked about ladies going into a “period of confinement” before and after they had a baby. 

In fact this still happens in some countries, particularly in Asia.

In China it’s referred to as the “Sitting in Month” – during this time visitors do not come in and women do not go out.

The practice hails back to a time when giving birth was much riskier. 

They didn’t have the treatments, technology and knowledge modern doctors have to help new mothers recover faster. 

But these are modern times and if you live in a country where they are no such confinement periods observed as part of culture, then it’s really up to you what you choose to do. 

You may also like:

16 tips for postpartum recovery

How long should you rest after giving birth 

After a vaginal birth you should certainly give yourself 48 hours during which you do very little apart from shower, eat, rest and feed your baby. 

During this time you may well be discharged from hospital if you had a hospital birth, so you will be able to walk although you can expect to tire out easily. 

I have to say my priority after returning home from the hospital wasn’t when I could get out and about for a walk, it was when I could get in the shower! The hospital had facilities of course, but it’s not the same as being able to use your own shower and really feel like you’ve washed all of the hospital smell away from you. 

When we talk about rest I think there are degrees of activity and what should avoid in terms of it being too strenuous or lengthy. 

For the first week you certainly shouldn’t be doing any housework or cooking where at all possible. 

After that first week you should continue to rest as much as possible for the month after giving birth. 

But resting doesn’t mean you cannot get out of bed at all. In fact some activity will probably start to make you feel a little more normal. 

Short and very gentle exercise is fine as soon as you feel ready to do it. 

How long do you have to stay in the house after giving birth

You do not have to stay in the house for any length of time after giving birth. Many mothers leave the house for a short walk or for errands within a week after giving birth.

BUT when you do leave the house in the six weeks after giving birth you may want to take it easy, especially in the first week. 

This isn’t because you will be physically incapable of walking, but you may tire easily and feel some discomfort, especially if you have vaginal stitches or a C-section scar. 

After giving birth you can be on your feet and walking within hours, but it’s unlikely you will be walking very far in those first two days after giving birth. 

Another thing to consider is heavy lifting may be tricky for you, especially if you had a C-section. So if you have to awkwardly lift the baby’s pushchair anywhere it would be best to make sure you have help before venturing out. 

For these reasons when you do leave the house within the first week after giving birth it’s best to keep those trips out short. 

Walk a short distance close to your house, making sure you don’t wander too far in case you do suddenly tire yourself out. 

You and your baby will have check-ups in the first couple of weeks after birth and another six to eight weeks after birth. During this time you have your blood pressure checked and your stitches checked if you have them. 

Once you pass the six to eight-week check-up you’re considered to be discharged from postpartum care, and its expected by this point you won’t be bleeding any longer.

From this stage you will probably be physically feeling way more able to get out of the house. 

Tips for leaving the house after giving birth 

When you do leave the house after giving birth you may find these tips useful. 

Pick your timing 

Think about how your trip out will coincide with your baby’s natural rhythm. 

You won’t be on a schedule with your newborn in the early weeks, but your baby will have a vague pattern of eating, a little awake time and then sleep. 

Take your baby out after they have eaten, but give them a few minutes for the feed to go down. 

I cannot tell you how many times I fed my baby and got her dressed in her cosy pram suit, only for her to spit up a feed on it. 

The good thing about going out with a newborn baby is they are very likely to nod off during a trip out in the pushchair. 

This will help you on the outing, as you won’t have to worry about a crying baby. 

Do not run before you can walk 

Make your first few outings extremely low pressure and easy. 

Aim to go out for just 20 minutes to half an hour on your trip out, and then increase this next time if you feel fine. 

Don’t push yourself to walk a long distance, or get stuck far out in the middle of nowhere that leaves you with a long walk back. 

You can easily build up to longer walks once you’ve tested your own strength. There is no rush to get back to rushing around. 

Remember to change your maternity pad

Postnatal bleeding continues for weeks after birth, so always put on a fresh pad after leaving the house so you can feel comfortable when you’re out and about. 

Wear comfortable clothing 

If you have a C-section scar or vaginal stitches then you will want to be as comfortable as possible. 

So stick to stretchy, not tight, clothes. Leggings and slouchy cotton tees are your friends after giving birth! 

Dress baby for the weather

One thing that may cause anxiety among new parents is keeping baby safe from the elements.

A new baby who is healthy will be perfectly safe if you dress them appropriately for the weather.

In the cold make sure they are in a pramsuit or coat with a warm blanket over their legs. Pushchairs tend to shield them from blasts of wind and you can get raincovers to keep any drizzle off them.

In the summer make sure they are wearing light layers and check their temperature by feeling their chest or back of their neck. If they are sweaty or very hot then remove a layer.

Pack your supplies 

Even if you are only going out for a short walk, you will feel more relaxed if you have a few key items with you. 

Remember to take wipes, a muslin, an emergency change of clothes for the baby plus a spare maternity pad for you just in case. 

What about when you don’t want to leave the house after having a baby

I can completely relate to not wanting to leave the house after having a baby. 

I suffered with major anxiety in the months after having my first baby about taking her out. 

My worries about leaving the house with my baby included: 

  • Would she get hungry while we were out. If she did get hungry I was worried about feeding her on a cold park bench. These days this sort of thing would not trouble me as much, but at the time it felt like it would be the wrong thing to do. 
  • Would she be warm enough. Babies are pretty hardy and as long as they are wrapped up warm they can cope with a cool temperature outside. But I worried she wouldn’t be comfortable. 
  • Not pumping enough milk. I was basically hooked to my pump permanently in the early weeks with my first baby so I worried that any time not spent pumping milk was time where I wasn’t doing enough to keep the supply up. 
  • Disrupting her schedule. Reading baby books that told me she should have all sleeps in her bed made me panic about taking her out during naptime. Thankfully I realised with my second baby this is the last thing you should be worrying about. 

So as you can see there are plenty of reasons why I was anxious and while none of them seem particularly good reasons now, with hindsight, at the time they felt scary. 

So I think it’s really important that you not play down your own anxieties about going out. Talk about them openly with your partner or with a good friend. 

Often saying it out loud and then having a logical discussion about your worries can make them much less scary, and help you to reason through them. 

If you do not feel ready to leave the house after having a baby, then do not force yourself!

Take some more days to give yourself time to relax and adjust. Having a baby is a huge change in your life and forcing yourself back to some form of normality is only going to stress you out. 

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When can you leave the house after giving birth

Vicky Smith is a mother of two daughters and a journalist. She has been writing and vlogging about parenting for over five years.