There’s an avalanche of advice for what to do after you give birth but what about the things you definitely should NOT do after giving birth?
Caring for your baby after giving birth is actually straight forward in terms of the number of responsibilities that you have. Your baby needs help with:
And while those are only a tiny number of things to focus on, there’s a whole lot of noise surrounding you after you give birth that can make it feel impossible to know the right thing to do.
So to help you focus on what’s important, this is the ultimate list of what NOT to do after giving birth to your baby.
This is a new mama guide to help make life with a baby less complicated, and give you some inspiration for how to look after you right now!
Yes your baby is your top priority, but caring for yourself and your mental wellbeing is also extremely important.
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24 things to avoid after giving birth
If you are thinking of doing any of these things after giving birth to your baby, it’s time to think again!
1. Too many visitors
Everyone will be desperate to meet you and your baby after you’ve given birth. Your closest relatives will probably be banging on the hospital door the second they hear the baby has popped out.
But now is not the time to overwhelm yourself with a steady stream of visitors.
Right after giving birth you will be tired and trying to get to grips with things like breastfeeding and bonding with your little one.
It’s important to give yourself space so that you can figure out these things.
Of course people like your own parents can offer invaluable advice at this time, and they’re probably going to be among your first visitors.
So it’s totally fine to have visitors, in fact it will do you the world of good especially if they bring you chocolate and presents. But be sure you’re limiting the number of visitors.
If you are receiving visitors in hospital, the hospital will be limiting the number of people who can be with you at one time anyway.
At home, have a plan with your husband about who will visit and how long they will stay.
I recall with my own first baby having real issues with breastfeeding and I wanted to do more skin-to-skin contact but couldn’t strip down for topless cuddles when people were visiting.
Remember to allow plenty of time for just you and your baby every day.
The people who really care about you will understand you need a little space at this crazy but beautiful time.
2. Rushing out of hospital
You need to be discharged from hospital by a doctor, but of course you can sign a waiver and leave any time you wish.
I strongly suggest you stick to the doctor and midwife’s advice about when is an appropriate time to leave.
In the hours and days after giving birth your blood pressure and bladder will be watched closely to be sure everything is remaining healthy and working as it should.
High blood pressure immediately after birth can lead to pre-eclampsia which is a potentially deadly condition.
Do follow the doctor’s advice and if they want you to stay in another day for monitoring, it’s annoying, but follow their expertise.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding the midwives may let you stay on in hospital a little longer to get additional one-on-one support. This is totally invaluable and can really make the difference in the early weeks of breastfeeding your baby.
3. Cleaning your home
If you’re a clean freak like me then having a messy home after giving birth will feel very difficult.
But it’s one of those things that comes with the territory of motherhood.
I wish I could have been able to afford a cleaner to come into my house once a week to sort out my house after I gave birth. But money is tight at times like these!
So I suggest ditching the cleaning for a while after your baby is born.
If you are breastfeeding you’ll find it difficult to find any time when the baby isn’t permanently attached to your boobs, plus when the baby isn’t nursing you should be resting.
Hopefully you have a supportive partner who can step in and do some of the work for you.
In order to stay sign I suggest prioritising the dishes after meals, which is where a dishwasher comes in really handy, wiping over the bathroom sinks and the laundry.
Dusting, vacuuming and mopping can stop for a few weeks.
In order to streamline wiping down kitchen surfaces and bathroom areas, use wipes to make it super speedy.
Do not worry if your house is a mess for a while, you have bigger fish to fry right now!
4. Getting back to work
I realise some mothers may need to return to work six weeks after giving birth. But for the first few weeks where you can rest and switch off from any distractions, you should.
Although having a baby can be a challenging experience, it’s also an amazing one that goes by in a flash.
Enjoy the early weeks as much as you can and avoid your emails and work phone calls.
5. Carrying on as normal
Life won’t go back to exactly as it was before.
So if you’re rushing to get back to your old schedule when you could go out spontaneously, cook complex meals at home and peacefully read a book, then you’re just fighting an uphill battle.
Don’t try to force your life back to what it was before. Try to embrace the change and go with the flow a little.
At some point in the not too distant future you will find a new routine and a new normal.
In the early weeks it can feel overwhelming, and you may miss your old life. It’s OK to miss your old life.
Be kind to yourself and try to enjoy this time for what it is.
6. Too much internet surfing
When you’re totally baffled by your baby, you will naturally turn to online searching of forums for a little advice.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But you can tie yourself up in knots with the sheer volume of advice and contradictory statements there are out there.
While there is some amazing advice and helpful hacks (this website has tons of them!), Google can also mislead you to believe you have to do stuff that you really don’t.
Some people have babies who sleep through the night from day one. Some people love a strict routine. Some people keep going with breastfeeding no matter how hard they find it.
Just because this wave of information comes at you, doesn’t mean its right for you and you need to follow it.
Use Google where you need to, but don’t let it boss you around.
7. Hardcore exercise
There’s no rush to get back into shape right after giving birth. Your body will naturally shed any excess weight from your pregnancy over time if you eat a balanced diet and take gentle exercise.
Right after giving birth your body will feel tender, sore and tired. It’s OK to succumb to those feelings and just rest for a few weeks.
You can build yourself back up to any workout routine that you used to do before getting pregnant over time, but try to not rush back to this.
8. Putting anything in your vagina
You will bleed for several weeks after giving birth. You need to use pads to absorb this blood rather than tampons in order to reduce the risk of infection.
For this reason its best not to use tampons or menstrual cups during this time.
9. Sex without protection
You should avoid sex until you feel fully healed down there. This is likely to take around six weeks after birth.
Once you do get back on the horse so to speak, remember to use protection even if you are breastfeeding and/or your period has not yet returned.
Your body is never more fertile than right after giving birth!
Unless you want another baby within a year after your first, remember to use contraception of your choice whenever you have sex.
10. Ignoring the need to poo
After giving birth, the idea of taking a poo is scary. You feel like you might burst or fall apart by pushing so you may be tempted to hold it in.
The best thing you can do is get the first poo out of the way.
You can make it a little easier by getting a damp washcloth and hold it over your private parts, applying gentle pressure, to make yourself feel a little more held together.
It’s also a good idea to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to help your bowel movements be regular. Drinking plenty of fluids will help to keep your poo easy to pass too.
If you are still having problems doing a number two then you should speak to your doctor about possibly being prescribed stool softeners to help you pass your poo.
Your body is healing from the physical effort of giving birth and you can give it the very best chance of doing this quickly by eating a balanced diet.
Now is not the time to deprive yourself of valuable calories. This is particularly the case if you are breastfeeding, which burns additional calories every day anyway.
Remember to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, along with protein and dairy. If you eat three proper meals a day, plus healthy snacks, your weight will return to normal over time naturally.
12. Lifting heavy stuff
This particularly applies if you had a C-section but it’s true for any new mother.
If you suffered an abdominal separation during your pregnancy – which is where the muscles running down the centre of your tummy pull apart – it’s also very important you don’t lift heavy things.
Remember to ask for help if there is any heavy lifting that needs doing around the house. You can make your wounds and muscle damage much worse by putting undue pressure on your core.
13. Ignoring your postpartum care advice
Your doctor or midwife should have issued you with a nice big list of dos and don’t for how to care for yourself after birth.
This may include how to care for your stitches and tips for keeping your body healthy.
Listen to this advice and follow through on it. It will help you to prevent postpartum infection and heal faster.
14. Forgetting your postpartum exercises
When you’ve just had a baby, time feels like a very precious commodity that we have nowhere near enough of.
But you really need to take heed of the advice to keep up with your postpartum exercises.
There are tips for fixing diastasis recital on this post.
15. Quitting breastfeeding on your worst day
In the early weeks breastfeeding is extremely challenging.
Breastfeeding your baby may hurt, be tiring and feel extremely frustrating if you’re worried your baby is not getting enough milk.
The first few weeks are the absolute toughest part and many mothers may choose not to proceed. That is totally fine.
But I recommend that if you do quit, not to do it on your worst day. It’s always worth sleeping on it and seeing if you do feel differently about things in the morning.
I have a whole post written about how to make the decision to quit breastfeeding with tips on how you can continue if you are struggling.
16. Being bossed around by anyone else
When it comes to babies it’s one of those things that absolutely everyone has an opinion about, and they are more than happy to share that opinion with you whether you ask for it or not.
While unsolicited advice can sometimes be useful, try to resist being told what to do by people who think they know better.
The person who knows your baby the best is you, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.
17. Tight clothing
Right now, loose clothing is your friend. Stick to comfy clothes such as leggings and loose-fitting cotton tees.
Even if you are not breastfeeding, wear stretchy maternity bras as your milk will still come in which can lead your breasts to become engorged.
A tight bra can lead to blocked milk ducts which are painful and can cause mastitis.
18. Early hours shopping
When you’re up at all hours feeding, comforting and holding a sleeping baby who only wants to be cuddled to sleep then you may spend a lot of time on your phone browsing.
I don’t know about you guys, but I do my least responsible shopping in the early hours of the morning when I am bored.
Sometimes it was products that might help the baby to sleep, such as special bedding or noise machines, and other times it was cute clothes and toys.
If you’re on a budget, try to steer clear of the late night shopping.
19. Too much junk food
When you’re tired then cooking is the last thing you may fancy doing. As a result simple comfort food and takeaways can become the meal of choice.
This is totally understandable, but be sure to balance out any treats you have with fruit, vegetables and healthy meals.
Too much junk food can cause you to become constipated and that’s the last thing you want to go through when you have stitches down there.
20. Worrying about your weight
This one is worth repeating over and over again. If you obsess over the scales right now you’re not being fair to yourself.
Every woman gains weight during pregnancy, and it takes time for your body to get back to its natural shape.
Give yourself time and space to heal. Your ability to look “good” in a bikini is not at all important. And besides, your body is absolutely amazing because of what its done bringing a baby into the world.
21. Being unrealistic about life with baby
Some people get lucky and have a miracle unicorn baby who sleeps 12 hours a night from the start. This is great, but the vast majority of babies will not be like this.
It’s very important to be realistic about the early weeks with a baby, because once you surrender to things just being the way they are, you will be able to cope with the stress of being tired much easier.
Newborn babies wake up frequently at night, may breastfeed constantly and often cry in the evenings.
It’s really tough adjusting to this, but these are phases that do pass, and it really does get easier as time goes on.
22. Wearing fancy clothes
Stick to machine washable clothing only, because chances are you will be pooped on and puked in a fair few times in the first few weeks!
One day soon you will be able to wear your best clothes again, but low maintenance clothing is way easier to cope with right now.
23. Forgetting your own needs
Self-care is important. In order to be the best parent you can be for your baby, you need to take care of yourself.
So be sure to give yourself a little extra time each day, however short, to take care of yourself.
You could spend this time doing something simple like taking a bath or doing your postpartum exercises.
Whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, make sure you are making the time to do it.
24. Second guessing your instincts
Us mothers love our babies more than anything in the world.
And so we want to be the very best mama that we can be for our baby. That means that we are desperate to get this motherhood thing “right”.
But the thing is, there is no “right” answer to motherhood. Of course there are the basics of keeping your baby well fed, warm, safe and loved, but you can sweat the little details too much.
Remember that your instincts can be totally trusted, because you have your baby’s best interest at heart. Try not to second-guess yourself and have confidence in your decisions.